In with the new, hang on to the old

Excuse the paraphrasing but why get rid of the old just because it’s a New Year. It’s only a way of keeping time not like anything drastic happens except if your birthday’s right bang at the beginning, then you could be entitled to feel a bit down in the mouth just because you’re another year older and haven’t finished that great masterpiece that was going to win you fame and fortune but worse than not finishing is never having started at all.

Forget the resolutions – which always look a bit like you’ve never done anything with your life until the 1st of January, year whatever and are usually so draconian you’re never going to keep them anyway. Instead of looking forward into the unknown with a list as long as a mile or kilometre, depending on your preference for imperial or metric, time travel back to the 1st January 2015. Where were you at in your writing ambitions and now fast forward 12 months and see what you have achieved. A word of warning, if you’re measuring success by having a three book deal with Random House and a film option with Steven Spielberg, this is not the blog for you.

If you’re going to carry on doing what is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, except for being perhaps a trainer in a flea circus, you need to value yourself and what you’ve achieved and resolutions just seem like whipping yourself for no reason at all. And we writers are very good at doing that already!

Who have you met that inspires you, makes you want to write? What books or films have you seen that have changed the way you think? What skills have you learnt or honed to help you and can you see the difference?

The only resolution worth making is to avoid anything negative and in the face of difficulties such as rejection – usually by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, resist tears, four letter words and sinking into black dog depressions.   Do not compare yourself with more successful acquaintances – as someone very dear to me once said “You’re doing different things,” and instead search out anything that makes you feel better – things that have gone well, phrases you’ve plucked from the air in a moment’s divine inspiration, images you’ve caught from the corner of your eye that have seared your writer’s soul and will return to haunt you until you bring them alive with words and then, there’s that old standby for when you’re questioning your sanity – quotations by writers but don’t make a habit of it, in case it becomes a bad one. It can amuse, divert and also make you realise you’re not totally alone in this profession we’ve chosen but it’s not a replacement for writing.

So, for today, here’s my quote:  “In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better.” Doris Lessing.

Happy exploits in your future writing.

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