Since it’s traditional to make a few New Year’s resolutions alongside looking back at the year, here’s my own little list before any more of 2016 slips away in a haze of Christmas cake and endless leftover turkey…
An obvious one, maybe, but the past few months have been hectic with work and travel and it’s easy to let writing fall by the wayside. That just means being more disciplined with dividing my time up- if I can write 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, I can surely keep up the momentum for all the other months, right? It’s not like I’ve already made myself busy by signing up to salsa classes, agreeing to be a bridesmaid, working on releasing a short story collection, editing the NaNo Western, entertaining the hardcore Eurovision fans with commentary on the vast schedule of qualifiers, and possibly stepping up my work as your Pi Towers North correspondent. Oh.
Don’t overdo it
Which leads nicely to this. I’ve been treading a fine line between ‘handling all the things’ and ‘falling over in a heap’, and I need to be better at not doing the latter. So, less of the nightshifts and burning the candle at both ends. A shattered writer isn’t a good writer. And if I’m totally exhausted, how will I have energy to go to the monthly Literary Salon and drink enough free wine to sink a battleship, but still manage to write more thrilling urban fantasy the next day?
Read more (but not too much)
I find it hard to read novels while writing. The author’s style leaks into my work, or I start despairing at how I’ll never write prose as good as them. That said, I still managed to finish the Alex Rider series, devour Lost on Mars and Werewolf Parallel on holiday, and for Christmas reads I’ve got Deep Water and The Big Lie on the go. In 2016 I want to keep reading YA recommendations, but really any good writing will do- I have some lit fic and SF in my to-read pile as well. Even if I just snatch reads on the bus, that’s better than reading nothing.
I’ve also started to be more selective with what I read on social media. A good Twitter clearout and some list management means I can now read things from all you interesting writers, political animals and Eurovision nerds, with less of the odd foaming idiot that somehow slipped through the cracks. The sort, for instance, that follow you and the first sample of their work is a paean to, er, stalking. Brace yourselves, kiddos, and keep that block button handy.
Lose the idiots
All that brings me to this important resolution. If it makes your blood pressure jump, just nuke it. Last year I learned there’s only so far engaging with the terminally brainless will get you, and it isn’t ‘productive writing time’. There’s a longer post in here somewhere, but basically things up with which I will not put include:
- Crap writing like your stalky guy up there. People who can’t handle constructive criticism too, like the person who bought a sponsored tweet then shrieked at me that they’d spent 10 years writing something riddled with unedited horrors like comma splices and flat characters. I cannot even.
- People who can’t hold a respectful discussion and agree to disagree. One-sided rant torrent = blockity-bye.
- Pro-GG folk. One actually followed me for months last year, clearly being unable to read my tweets. Son, step away from me. I’m a social justice black-belt, yeah?
- This person, who previously called me a ‘crazy cat lady’ and, er, didn’t pay much attention either. You do not. ever. put. me. down or I swear to god:
Have more adventures
Maybe not as extravagant as South America, but I always seem to cheer right up and get more writing ideas by going on random trips, trying new things and pushing myself out my comfort zone. I’m open to suggestions, especially budget ones for the starving freelancer. So far I have ‘do something cool with my Pi Zero‘, ‘a small trip to a heartbreakingly beautiful Eastern European Eurovision country’ and ‘stick a pin in the Historic Scotland member’s book, drive to castle, cry at amazingness.’
OK, this is the same resolution as last year. But I did get two short pieces published last year (and one’s still in a museum, dammit!). I’ve got a cheap laserjet ready for more manuscript hard-copy fun, and my querying spreadsheet is all ready to work on this week. Speaking of Excel, this is the current action plan. You’ll note there’s no leveraging marketing synergy or heavy networking, but there is a pleasing balance of important Spotify playlists and mythical creatures, which has to be a winning combination, right? Well, time will tell. Crossing my fingers for a productive, happy 2016 for me and all you lovely lot ❤