Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we all start thinking about how we can do next year a bit better. The very talented Susan Dennard and Erin Bowman have asked writers to join them in making and sharing #WritersResolutions for 2016, so this is my contribution. You can see their original posts here and here.
I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions; I’ve always suspected they just set you up for more failure. But this year the timing is quite apt. I’ve just quit my long term job in connection with a long-distance house move (by UK standards – I suspect any Americans amongst you would view the 110 mile trip with a fair amount of derision). I’m currently working remotely, but as of 10 January I will no longer be gainfully employed. My contribution to our household budget will instead depend on my skill with a pen (alright, a keyboard, but you have to admit pen sounds better) and my ability to convince people to actually pay me for it.
So irrespective of the magic date of 1 January 2016, I was always going to have to sit down and think about my plans for the next year. And these are the resolutions I’ve come up with:
1. Enjoy the writing
It’s so easy to lose sight of why you’re doing something, when you’re actually in the midst of it.
I seem to spend half my time worrying about whether my writing is good enough, or progressing fast enough, or whether any of that is even going to make a difference if I don’t have a mailing list as long as the Nile and twenty gazillion Twitter followers. The other half can quickly get swallowed worrying about how little I add to the bank balance, or whether the Husband resents me having given up work for this.
But the thing is, I’m doing this because I love it. I love writing. I love plotting, and thinking up ever more cruel and devious torments for my characters (did I just say that aloud?) and I especially love giving them moments of joy to get them through it. I even love it when a character comes so completely to life, they grab the plot in both hands and twist it in a completely new direction. I may not love it at the point it happens, mind you; then I curse them and panic for at least an hour about how I’m going to get back on track.
And that’s what I mustn’t lose sight of. Sure, my end goal is publication and hopefully a reasonable income, but even if that never happened, I would still carry on writing because it’s who I am. So for 2016 I want to remember to enjoy the process as much as I possibly can.
2. Get the hang of this social media thing
I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m not particularly good with social media. You could call this an understatement. A slightly more honest version would be to say that I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, don’t even know what half of them are, and am completely terrified of most of it.
But while there’s a whole range of opinions on exactly what and how much writers should be doing with social media, it’s fair to say there’s a consensus we should be doing something. So if 2015 was the year I bit the bullet, signed up for Twitter and Pinterest, and started this blog, 2016 needs to be the year I figure out how to get the best from them.
I have a suspicion that organisation and setting myself a proper schedule are going to be the key. Although I’ve also seen mention of odd things like plug-ins and Hootsuite (yes, I am slightly technologically challenged) that I should consider using to automate a lot of the process. Hmm – I might save that for the 2017 resolutions.
3. Look after my health
This seems to be a bit of a theme from the other #WritersResolutions posts. Writing is a pretty solitary gig, and lets be honest, we spend a lot of the day sat on our backsides in front of a screen, only our fingers getting any exercise.
I’m sure any one of us could list a number of health concerns and niggles, and in the scheme of things my particular problems could be a hell of a lot worse. But I know they will only deteriorate if I carry on as I am, and I’m already finding it hard to keep up with the kids. I don’t want to be the sort of mum who drives to the park and sits at the side watching them instead of enjoying the walk and joining in. So between back pain, arthritic knees, occasional bouts of depression and generally abysmal fitness, it’s pretty clear I need to do something about it.
I’m never going to be the one who signs up for a boot camp fitness regime or runs the London marathon, but I can make an effort to get out and active on a daily basis, even if it’s a simple walk to town to write in a cafe or park instead of on my sofa. I’ve been recommended yoga or pilates by my physiotherapist, and the only reason I haven’t got round to trying either is sheer laziness. So 2016 will be the year I remember to look after myself.
There you have it; my #WritersResolutions for 2016. All encouragement (and commiseration) is welcome in the comments, and why not join in with your own, by blog or Twitter or whatever.