Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My December Writing Resolutions

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.

7 comments:

Helen Black said...

Yay. I think planning is a brilliant idea, and could happily co-opt everything on your list.

Can I also say for anyone who dislikes the idea of plans, that the act of writing things down does seem to galvanise the mind.

Can I also say, that the year I took the making of such a list seriously, I put at number one...find and agent. And do you know what?
HB x

Kate said...

I haven't even begun to think about goals for the year. I used to always say 'find an agent' but now I have I'm not sure what happens next so I guess the best one for me would be to use whatever writing time I have more productively.

Debs Riccio said...

Great ideas, Caroline. Particularly agree with the 'write ideas down' one. I'm always having flashes of inspiration, do a spot of housework(maybe) and it's gone. On the rare occasions I have written something down, like you say, I'm a bit delighted with myself for thinking of it in the first place! I DO keep a list of names I like for possible future use. Helps that I work in a school I guess - they get more interesting every term! Happy Holidays x

Caroline Rance said...

The writing things down aspect is going well and I've managed to salvage thoughts that would have completely disappeared from my mind otherwise!

I don't know how I'd feel about putting something like 'find an agent.' I've deliberately kept the list to writing-related aims rather than publishing ones, but if I were actively seeking an agent I would put something like 'I will send out 3 submissions every month'. Less go-getting, perhaps, but attainable from one's own energy rather than relying on other people to make it come true. Then again, there's a lot to be said for thinking big!

Julie P said...

Fantastic plans! I agree, if you're going to make plans for your writing year you should do it while the iron is hot - writing is not just for Christmas! I wish you the best of luck with your writing endeavours in 2011.

Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Susannah Rickards said...

Caroline, I love all your plans and embrace them happily. Audio books are a great way to wade through classics that are great but yet just that bit too wadesome to read...
And Oh, yes, to catching dead time and using it better. I plan to write a whole small book using just that time and no other.

We should have a check in to yay each other on...
S x

Bridget Whelan said...

Great ideas - something for everyone. I groaned in recognition at number 3 but I am afraid I would make Anne Widdicome look so-o-o good. But love the last. Yes,writing is one of the creative arts and sometimes we can write/should write without thinking about a potential market.
I have created a link from my blog - I've come up with seven resolutions for would-be fiction writers (including read a poem a month) but you've inspired me to make it more personal.