Reading, writing and resolutions

Just over a year ago I wrote very enthusiastically in support of new year’s resolutions – how they’re an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and think about ways to improve yourself by resolving to change something, whether a habit, a lifestyle choice or even just an attitude.

So it’s somewhat ironic then that I didn’t go on to set any new year’s resolutions for 2014.

The truth is, when I’d looked back on 2013 I realised I’d had one of the best years of my life. So I took the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach and decided I didn’t need any resolutions for 2014.

Two points to note here:

Firstly, I didn’t look back critically enough. If I’d looked even a smidge harder, I would’ve found things.

Secondly, even if I hadn’t found anything obvious to change I should’ve at least set a few “continue goals”. (You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had to do those God-awful performance plans for work; basically you identify what you’ve been doing well and set a goal to continue it.)

I took it for granted that things would continue as they were.

They didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, last year was a good year, too. I’m not complaining. But as I’ve already written, I lost my way a bit with my writing.

Looking back I realise that was inevitable given I hadn’t started the year defining a direction, a focus.

So, given all that, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve set some resolutions for 2015, nor that they are all geared – directly or indirectly – towards reinvigorating me as a writer and helping me find my way again.

1) More writing. Firstly, this is stating the obvious so I don’t lose sight of the main goal. Secondly, the more writing you do, the better writer you’ll be. In theory, anyway.

2) More reading. This should not only help me reconnect with my love of reading, but also be a practical tool to improve my writing. Just about every list of tips for emerging writers includes an edict to read, read, read and then read some more.

3) Less social media. Especially looking at you here, Twitter. I think most of you will know what I’m talking about (even if for most people, the enormous time-sucking beast is Facebook). Enough said.

4) More yoga. I took up yoga in September and October when I wasn’t working much; guided by a really good yoga app I was doing 45-70 minute yoga routines about three times a week. I absolutely loved it.

Then I started working more frequently and had less time for yoga and eventually stopped it altogether.

I need to bring it back into my life. It’s a great way of maintaining and improving strength and flexibility, and it makes me feel confident, happy and up for writing. It’s no coincidence I wrote more blog posts last October than in the four months either side of it.

5) Get to bed earlier, get up earlier*. I have a tendency to be a night owl, which, if the time were used productively, wouldn’t be an issue. But it isn’t, and the next day I’m exhausted and moody because I haven’t had enough sleep. So exhausted and moody that I don’t want to write. This has to change.

The resolutions are only one tool to help me get back on track with writing. The other tool I’ve invested in is a Writer’s Diary.

I’m not sure if there are lots of writer’s diaries out there on the market, but mine’s by Pilot Press and it’s fantastic. There’s lots of information to encourage and inspire, there are weekly exercises and a space for monthly goals.

Writer's Diary by pilot press (closed)

All of it has been very helpful in a practical way and it’s already responsible for increasing my creative output exponentially in comparison to last year. I love it and I can’t recommend it highly enough for any emerging writers out there.

Thanks to my writer’s diary and the changes inspired by my resolutions, I’m writing more frequently, thinking more creatively about my writing, exploring different styles and genres and generally challenging myself in ways I never have before.

I’m finding my way again. I have the lantern; it illuminates the path. I feel excited and positive as I start to follow it. I can’t wait to see where it will lead.

* Everything’s relative. Lest anyone think I’m trying to become a morning-person (as if!), I’m just aiming to get to bed by midnight and be up by 9:00am.