Welcome to a new year, my writing friends. A new decade, to be exact. I already feel as though this will be a year of change. A change in practice. A change of habits. Renewed motivation and drive. I took a couple of months out to re-charge my batteries and shake off the technological burn-out I’d been experiencing. A hectic and challenging few months at my day-job had left me unable to enjoy time at the computer at home, and fighting to summon up the enthusiasm to post cheerful insta pics and remotely positive blog posts.
A break has done me good, I’m happy to report. I have something of a plan going into 2020. I am determined to organise my time and to ensure productivity no longer goes hand-in-hand with burn out. I have identified my problem – I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person. In the past I have had no problem writing thousands of words, zoning out and immersing myself in my imaginary worlds, fingers flying over the keyboard and my brain working overtime to catch up to the images being acted out by the characters in my mind. But then comes the edit. Picking apart the plot holes and rectifying lazy setting descriptions. And then, inevitably, comes the loss of confidence. The spark dries up. The project gets shelved for a shiny new idea and off I go again, hurtling towards exhaustion but ultimately getting no closer to my goal of becoming a novelist.
2020 will be different. I’m determined to get a grip on my writing practice to ensure I move steadily towards my goals. I’ve bought a diary and have entered upcoming short story submission opportunities that I might like to try. This will hopefully allow me to manage my spare time more effectively and give me plenty of opportunities to build my short story portfolio while simultaneously completing my novel. I’ve set time aside in January to carefully plot my chapters and I’m ditching word-count focus until I know exactly what I need to write.
And one final vow going into 2020: To take it easy on myself. As writers we demand so much of ourselves. Of our time. Of our energy. Of our lifestyles and headspace. We aren’t superhuman, at the end of the day. The year has begun with nothing but negativity in the news of the world around us, and it can be disheartening. It’s hard to focus on our goals when the lives we live sometimes feel so perilously out of our control.
So, this year, take a breath. Allow yourself the time you need to be brilliant. Enjoy the small steps that you can take in order to achieve your goals. No matter what is happening around us, our writing is the one thing we do have control over. If you’ve been struggling to motivate yourself, just as I have, think of a plan that will take some of the pressure off your shoulders. Get back to doing what you love. And look after yourselves this year, my writing friends.