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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Thinking Ahead



At this busy time of year there's so much to do, buying and wrapping presents, writing cards, planning menus to name but a few things. If you're like me, you'll still be doing it on Christmas Eve. I'm a born juggler.  Maybe you've got it all done? if so, I salute you.

My thoughts usually turn to planning the next twelve months around now, but is it too early to be thinking ahead? I really don't think so - I like to have a plan. Even if I don't stick to it, I've at least got a roadmap to get me near to where I want to be.

Wherever you're up to with your writing, its a good idea to take time out now to consider what you want to do next year. Perhaps you've had lots of ideas on an off throughout the year, but you haven't committed them to paper anywhere, and now you've forgotten what it was you wanted to do? I know that feeling. Although I'm better than I was! I do make notes on my mobile phone.

Yesterday, I sat quietly for ten minutes and wrote a list of all the writerly things I'm involved in at the moment. All my different unfinished writing projects, my aims, and the regular stuff I do. I was astounded! I do much more than I think I do. It's no wonder I'm not finishing anything.

If I'm honest, I like to work on several projects at once. I like the variety. But at what cost? Never completing anything? Maybe I should concentrate on getting one thing finished? Work on one project at a time. I'm not sure. It's something I'm going to think about carefully over the next two weeks. 

As for writing resolutions in general, here are a few I can think of...however I'm not saying I'll be following all of them, I'm brainstorming, jotting down a list. Maybe it'll be of use to you as you decide what your plan is for 2016. 

Somewhere to Write - Are you happy with your writing space? Do you even have one? Could it be improved? We all need somewhere to keep our printer, paper, pens and notebooks. If you're lucky enough to have an office, could it be more comfortable. A new chair to keep you comfortable? A heater, or perhaps a bookshelf or a kettle and coffee? Maybe even a progress chart on the wall?
If you don't have a dedicated space, or you do and it's not working for you, what about taking your writing out to the coffee shop this year? Or the library? Or if you commute, could it be done on route, on the bus, or train? Perhaps, this is the year you'll splash out and take your writing out into the garden, in your very own writing shed. Food for thought - where will you be writing next year? 

Weekly Target - I'm a fine one to say this, but fellow scribes, don't beat yourself up if you're not writing everyday. Unless your writing full-time, it's unlikely you'll be writing everyday. Why not set yourself a minimum weekly target? Either with words, or hours you'll write?

It's amazing what can be achieved in the tiniest amount of time. Just ten minutes here and there can bring results. Get something in place, and stick at it, chances are you're going to write more anyway, whatever target you set, and don't be afraid to take time out, without feeling guilty.

When Are You Going to Do It? - Finding time to write is tricky for many of us. I certainly haven't solved this one completely, however, I'm mostly now writing early in the morning before my work day begins. Could that work for you? Or perhaps you want to try writing during your lunch break? Or before the kids get home from school? Or whilst the other half is doing the shopping? Give some thought to if you've got the time right? When could you be more productive? 

Get Away - Yes seriously, think about getting away from your desk. Going to writerly events like workshops, and conferences are food for the writers soul. Or take a break away form writing altogether. Give yourself a day off, or a week. Rest and recharge often.

Friends - Never underestimate how powerful having a writing buddy can be. Good ones will spur you on, and support you in times of crisis. If you haven't got one and want one, get along to a writerly event, or join a group, socialise and look for someone like-minded. Give it a go, what have you got to lose? And who knows what you might gain. It's great to share successes, or cry on their shoulder when things aren't going well but remember, it's a two way street. You get out, what you put in. 

Plate Spinning Skills - I already touched on this one at the beginning of this post. Only you can decide if having various multiple projects on the go is something you want to try, or not. For me it's refreshing to be able to swap from urban fantasy to crime, or romance, or whatever. Or from a novel chapter to a piece of flash fiction. Hell, does it matter that much? We're all different, with different priorities. Some of us scribble away for a living, others for fun, and the hope of some small success.
If you love writing, you'll find your focus, just do yourself a favour and don't set any unrealistic goals. Keep moving forward in whatever you choose to write, and you'll improve, and maybe one day you'll achieve all your hopes and dreams. Or at least some of them.

So grab a pen and paper, and start planning now for a successful and productive writing year.

Merry Christmas folks, may it be peaceful and happy.

20 comments:

  1. Some useful pointers, Maria.

    I started with a small weekly target and found I always exceeded it. It's a good way to concentrate the writing mind even if you don't have long.

    If I don't make too many plans I personally find I achieve more, but that's just me. Having an aim for the year is good, and if I succeed that's even better, but I don't berate myself if I fail, because I've tried, so I look to see if there's anything different I can do and try again the next year- and usually it works.

    Have a lovely happy Christmas- and a productive 2016. :-)

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    1. I need to learn not to berate myself. Good luck with all that you wish for in 2016.

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  2. Some great points to think about there Maria. I'll definitely have a list of things I want to accomplish next year, so I need to think about how I'm going to go about it. I hope you have a lovely Christmas, and a very happy and successful New Year. CJ xx

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    1. Hi CJ, I'm formulating my own plan, and trying not to overwhelm myself with too many plans. Hope you've got your plan sorted now. best wishes for a happy healthy and productive 2016.

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  3. I am a terrible one for having loads of different projects, all started, none finished. Every so often I dip in and have a dabble, but then something else will grab my attention. I used to have a chart and set a timer and make myself spend an amount of time on each one every day, but that didn't last long. I think I need to improve my plate spinning skills :-) Perhaps I will grab a pen and make some plans for next year. Happy Christmas xx

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    1. Hi Teresa, I'm beginning to think if you're made that way, it's going to be very difficult to change the habits of a lifetime. :-)

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  4. Great list of ideas, Maria. Hope you have a very happy, peaceful Christmas!

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    1. Thank you Rosemary, hope yours was merry and bright. :-)

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  5. Thanks for a very interesting post Maria. As writing is a hobby for me, I don't beat myself up too much when I'm doing something else. It is definitely a good idea to join a writing group and have a writing buddy if possible. It's also good to get away. We have an excellent council office building which houses our library where our group meets and a cafe where it is possible to sit and write without feeling you must hurry and move on. I went there this morning and had a quiet coffee and took in the atmosphere. Whatever you are doing this Christmas, have a very happy one.

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    1. Maggie, your library sounds well organised with lots going on. Best wishes. :-)

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  6. I'm much like you, with too many plans underway at once. I'm going to try hard to get back into the rhythm of concentrating on one story at a time in the new year.

    Happy Christmas!

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    1. I'm still undecided on which way to go. I love the variety of change.

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  7. The one about Friends is true. Never underestimate how powerful having a writing buddy

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    1. I totally agree with you. They are essential if we are to thrive.

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  8. Hope all your plans pay off, Maria. (I'm still working mine out)

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    1. Me too Patsy, and unsure why it's taking me so long?

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  9. Thanks Maria. Just the motivation I needed. All the best for 2016.

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    1. Many thanks L, hope your plans go well.

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  10. I wonder if one of the reasons we like to have several projects on the go is that we are scared to finish anything, because then we have to do something with it and oh! the risk of rejection. I'm definitely going to try to get out and about a bit more this coming year to look for fresh ideas. Happy New Year.

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    1. That is definitely a factor for some folks.
      I also want to get out and about and meet lots of new writerly types.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!