For a long time, I haven't bothered with New Year's resolutions. Not because I don't think I'd keep them, but because goals and plans are too exciting to confine to a certain season. If they're worth making at all, they're worth making right now. Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to achieve more in life, so I've made some pre-Christmas resolutions to help me get the most out of my writing during the rest of 2010 and beyond.
1. Make more notes
The ancient question 'where do you get your ideas?' is easy to answer - they pop into my head all the time. The problem is, they usually pop out again after the briefest of sojourns. I've started writing them down instead and am already surprised at how completely I forget things that seemed brilliant when I thought of them. I need a back-up for my brain – why not pen and paper?.
2. Make 'dead time' more productive
I seem to spend an awful lot of time waiting for people to stop faffing around and let me get on with stuff. Instead of idly checking email on my iPod or scrolling through i-am-bored.com, I will use this time to read, to make notes as above, or jot down ideas for blog posts.
3. Become more energetic
Urgh. I hate doing sport. And every slob and their dog decides to get fit after Christmas. But I must grudgingly admit that exercise helps me write better. The gym is too grim for me, so I will shortly be joining a 1940s-style dance class – Strictly Writing might soon have its very own Anne Widdecombe!
4. Create 'a room of one's own.'
There's no space for a tranquil summer house at the bottom of the garden, so the room of my own has to be within my head. I'm practising tuning out noise, remaining calm when stressed and making the most of any brief pockets of peace, refusing to let them be spoiled by anticipation of the next interruption.
5. Write more in longhand
Now that my computer is regularly commandeered for Postman Pat DVDs, it makes sense to overcome my fear of putting fiction on paper and get scribbling. (Plus my handwriting is the absolute pits these days – better use it before I lose it.)
6. Listen to audiobooks
Irrationally or not, I've never considered audiobooks to be 'real' reading – it seems like someone else is doing all the work. The advantages of the format, however, have become too important to ignore – it's a way of learning and being entertained while continuing with the general drudgery of life. There are loads of free audiobooks available online, though the quality is rather variable!
7. Write for writing's own sake
The thought that everything has to be good enough to be published has been holding me back for a long time. So I'm going to have more fun with writing, try out some flash fiction and poetry, and enjoy spending time with the characters in my novel rather than worrying whether I'm really doing justice to the big themes I've stumbled into.
Strictly readers – what are your goals and plans for the next year? I'd love to hear about them, and as this is my last post of 2010 (apart from announcing the next Strictly Writing Award shortlistee), I'd like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with hope, happiness – and lots of writing.