In 2021 I made the decision to step away from my paid job for a while to concentrate on my writing. Having got myself an incredible agent I wanted to be able to focus on getting my first novel published and novel number two written. Novel number one took me eight years to write; I’m determined that novel number two will be quicker – I’ve done this once, I can do this again, only quicker…. surely? Now the kids are away at university I truly have the space to do this.
So far, so good. But I quickly found that despite getting a good amount of writing done I was, frankly, just blowing in the wind. I am so used to my working day being highly structured. I’d receive a brief; I’d set the job up and put it all in motion, I’d know exactly what I had to do and where I was going. I had deadlines, I had meetings, I had goals. Suddenly I had none of those things and I found I wasn’t achieving very much.
Incredibly it took me three months to work out that I had to create those goals and those deadlines myself. Well, that’s not entirely true. A writing friend of mine pointed me in the direction of the podcast #AmWriting– a weekly podcast for writers of all kinds, full of writerly advice, chat, and ideas. Listening to this, finally, helped the penny drop.
Having just listened to their latest episode I’ve realised that my first set of goals and deadlines were a little too wishy washy. The last few months have shown me that to keep myself on track I need to be more detailed in my aims and give myself very regular deadlines. Not just ‘Finish my first draft of novel number two by September 2022’. It’s never going to happen if I have only big goals like that.
I have also recognized that I need to step outside my comfort zone more often. It’s much too easy to sit at home, in the British Library or my favourite café writing or researching and not really connecting with the outside world. I have hermit tendencies and, as you can see, I haven’t written a blog post for far too long. And the longer I leave it the more difficult it becomes to re-start. This particular blog post is completely outside my comfort zone, but, when you think about it, why should that bother me so much? This is what I do. I write and my writing should be out there, not hiding on my laptop.
So, 2022 will be about setting myself deadlines, being highly organised and pushing myself outside my boundaries. It will require a few deep breaths, saying ‘No’ more often to those people who think I’ve retired and can go for coffee/lunch/shopping on weekdays and, taking my new job more seriously.
Happy New Year.