Happy New Year! My apologies for late posting this week – I have a number of pretty top-quality excuses: a funeral, Christmas & New Year and the houseful of family that go with them, a vicious head cold, plus a couple of days of paid work. I still have the cold but the other things are thankfully behind me now. I didn’t even get round to putting a tree up this year, and anyway, it didn’t seem appropriate to decorate the house while we were still so close to my father-in-law’s death in mid-December.
Without all the decorations and cards to take down, it should have made the ‘getting back to normal’ a bit easier, but I still seem to be struggling to get on course for 2012. Does anyone else feel like they’re trying to run up the ‘down’ escalator?
I haven’t even had time to make my New Year’s resolutions. Well, I don’t make resolutions as such, but I do usually start the year with some sort of plan of action with regards to my writing, and I’m usually ready to hit the ground running on the first of January (or the second, should the first be somewhat shortened by a hangover and a lie-in). But this year, we’ve somehow got to the third day of 2012 and I still don’t really have a plan, so I’m going to make one now, ‘live’ on the blog! If you don’t have your own plan yet, feel free to adapt mine. I really can’t faff about this year, because I have a two-book deal (hoorah!) and that means I actually have a deadline and need to deliver the second book on time.
Ok, so in 2012 I will:
- Write for at least two hours every morning, in two or three sessions. I find it’s better to have a time commitment rather than a word commitment, because there are some days when the words just won’t come, and I don’t see the point of beating yourself up every time you don’t hit a thousand words (or whatever). If I spend the two hours at my keyboard, thinking about my novel, I’m convinced something will happen. Won’t it?
- Resume ‘morning pages’ as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way – three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing every morning, preferably on waking. This year, I might combine this with journal writing, so that the freewriting comes from what I’ve done, seen or thought about in the previous 24 hours.
- Do all teaching admin, lesson preparation, reading students’ work, writing reports, student tutorials etc in the afternoons only, thus keeping the mornings clear for writing. I have a habit of thinking I’ll get teaching things ‘out of the way’ first, only to find they then stretch into the whole day.
- Restrict daytime Twitter activity to two half-hour sessions a day – this will be difficult! There is so much on Twitter that is of interest to writers, not to mention the simple, pleasant chit-chat with other writers. But Twitter can easily gobble up a morning.
- Take one or two days off from writing each week. These days can be used mainly for boring but essential stuff such as shopping, housework, household admin etc, but should also contain something nice – coffee or lunch with a friend, a walk in the countryside, some time reading all the fabulous blogs that are around, or even a short train journey to somewhere new – anything to recharge the creative batteries and allow time for story and characters to develop. I’m particularly keen to take a few train journeys this year – going to new places always helps to sharpen my observational skills.
- And finally, I’ve realised that by having three sections to this blog – the Writing Bit, the Reading Bit and the Food Bit, I’ve bitten off rather more than I can chew, so in 2012, there won’t be three sections every week, but there will always be either something about writing, or a book review. And there will usually be something about food.
The Food Bit
This week, because of the excuses/reasons stated at the start of the writing bit, the food bit will be brief. It’ll be simply to tell you that as I type, Vegan Husband is downstairs knocking up Red Bean Dhal – does anyone know the definition of dhal? I always thought it meant ‘made with lentils’, but this is made with kidney beans. He’s made it before and it’s absolutely delicious, especially if you like your curries to have a bit of a kick – this should see off the last of my cold! He’s cooking some basmati rice to go with it, and we’re going to pop to the Indian restaurant down the road in a minute to get a sag bhuna and a garlic naan to have as side dishes. I’ll get the recipe out of him later and will post it next week. The garlicky, spicy aroma is now wafting up the stairs, and there’s a glass of wine down there with my name on it!
For more about me and my work, check out my website: http://www.susanelliotwright.co.uk