Bloody hell, it’s 2015 – we’re practically in the future! Sadly, there is a distinct lack of robo-dogs and hover boards so far. I always knew the future was overrated.
Now the hangover (metaphorical or literal) is receding, it’s time to look to this shiny new year and wonder just exactly what the hell we’re all going to do in 2015. The one thing I do know about the New Year – that celebrated if arbitrary splitting of time – is that it means resolutions! It’s traditional; a chance to self-flagellate when our resolve crumbles within days of the fresh year. Humans are, after all, beautiful masochists – why pass up an opportunity to set ourselves goals we’ll never really meet?
Except I’m going to meet these ones, reader. Yes, I f’n well am. I don’t normally go in for resolutions, but as a newly published author giving this writer life a whirl, I thought I might try a few, and share them with you all. They’re simple, and I think a pretty good snapshot of what makes for the lifestyle of a happy and (passably) successful writer. If you’ve got any more tips for making the most of the new writing year, feel free to share them in the comments below.
1. Read more
This one sounds pretty obvious, right? If you’re going to be good with the old words (insider tip, that’s what this writing lark is all about, shhh – keep it quiet) then you’ve got to start by reading a whole heap of them. Preferably good (and varied) ones too. Before I started writing more seriously, I read a whole heap, but writing has kind of distracted me from that, almost like I’ve got a daily quota for words: “Oh no, sorry, I’d love to read this very important e-mail but I’m afraid I’ve already written two shopping lists today so I can’t possibly be expected to either produce or digest anymore. Try again tomorrow.” Admittedly, this might be a problem particular to my sorry ass, but it is a problem nonetheless. So, this year I’m going to read more than ever, and you can all keep tabs on me and chastise/encourage where necessary as I’ll be writing about all these words I’m planning on munching down on my book blog www.bibliofreak.net. Keep me honest people.
2. Write more
Ok, ok, yes, I am stating the bleeding obvious here, but you’d be surprised how many writers don’t actually write all that much (Douglas Adams is my favourite example of this, literally having to be minded by his editor at times to make sure he wrote). Last year I wrote over 100,000 words for various projects – more than I’d ever done in a year before, I reckon – and guess what? To my great and astonished amazement, I think all that practice actually made my writing better. Turns out I wasn’t perfect all along. (I am now though, obviously.) So whatever stands between you and writing – whether it be lack of time, apathy, procrastination, filial demands – make space to write and bloody well do it.
3. Engage more
This is the trickiest of my resolutions as it entails me creeping (painfully) out from under the rock of my hermitage and actually engaging with other – what’s the word – people! Whether they’re readers, writers, or the people who try to talk to you in the supermarket, everyone’s got something to say and as a writer it’s worth listening. My goal as a writer, at least, is to be as engaged as possible. By everything. (Here I’m talking more about the book community in its many forms, but engagement is key to writing in so many ways.) When I started my book blog a few years ago I took a few tentative steps into the blogging community: it was friendly, affirming, and then I naffed off to do my own thing and return to curmudgeon-hood. On publishing my debut novel last year, however, I realised how warm and supportive the various communities to which I still belonged actually were. They’ve already been great for me, and I am more than happy to repay all the kindness I’ve seen. Writing can be a lonely occupation (I often think it’s an irony that writers spend half their life trying to escape people, and the other half trying to understand them) so make the most of the people who appreciate you and your passions. They might just be some of the best friends you’ll ever make.
So that’s my 2015 all resolved up nicely: see you in two days when I’ve cracked. Whatever your resolutions are this year, I’d love to hear them, and I wish you luck in keeping them. If you ever need motivation, here’s a right lovely passage from Roald Dahl, that shed-dwelling loon:
“…[I]f you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
~ Happy 2015 everyone! ~