As my friends and I, are counting down the last few hours of an exceptionally tough year, I can’t help but think about how lucky I am to still be writing.
Those who have been reading me regularly since the launch of this blog will have noticed the effects of what I can only describe as a horrific sh***-storm (a dramatic reduction in creative output).
2016 came with many challenges, amongst them:
The near loss of a whole book segment due to technical failure.
Brexit (the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union).
Experiencing major burnout and physical health issues due to commuting and work-related stress.
Also, the death of David Bowie got me down somewhat, seeing that his music is one of my favourite choices for compiling writing playlists.
Despite all of the trouble, however, I am proud to say that I was able to press on with my writing projects.
I am continuing to taking baby steps towards the completion of my YA dystopian science fiction novel ‘The Dream Parade’ which I have queued for publication in Spring 2017.
Going through tough times has taught me a range of important lessons, three of which I will share with you today (I know you want to get on and party).
1. Take your own advice
After the EU referendum in the UK, it seemed as though the world had ended. Suddenly there was a spike in xenophobia and hate crime, hostility against foreigners increased overnight. Like many people over here, I had no idea how to react. Most of all, I didn’t feel like writing anymore. There seemed no point. Who was going to want to read my fiction anyway? Negativity swept through me and seriously stalled my progress on writing and blogging. And the only person who got hurt in the process was me. Luckily I was able to take my own advice on how to keep writing through the storm which is incidentally one of my most successful blogposts ever. Thanks to a calmer, more balanced me, an anxious me could put things back into perspective – even though it took me the better part of six months.
2. Write every day, until it hurts…
As many of you know, I had an episode of shoulder problems due to poor posture when writing on the train (and possible when sloughing at my day job too). Of course, physical health trumps all and should not be neglected. I started doing yoga to help strengthen neck, shoulders and back in the morning and before bed. Within a few weeks, I was as good as new. It was tempting to think that since the writing had caused me the problems, I ought to take a break from it. Right? WRONG! In retrospect, I am glad that I didn’t take my GP’s advice to put my writing project on hold. I cut down on blogging and reduced my fiction writing hours. I made a point of sitting upright and did lots of reading on the train. I also started writing using dictation software (a pretty alien experience) and started training my Dragon. Most importantly: I never stopped completely, even though things slowed down considerably. I bit the bullet, looked after myself more and tuned down activities. But I kept writing and boy am I glad that I didn’t give up.
3. The most important asset is time
If I learned anything worth sharing about writing in 2016 it’s this: the most important asset is time. Not friends, not family, not money. A writer’s most important asset is time. If you have time, the chances of success increase exponentially. If you have time, you can write more of what is good and revise what is not so good. If you have time, you can read and reread your writing in the editing process and improve the tone, structure, plot, suspense, characters (you name it) of your story. If you have time, you can afford trial and error. You can learn, you can share, you can think. Most importantly, you can write. Unfortunately for many of us indies, time is not only the most important asset but also the hardest to come by asset. I know from experience that this is definitely true for me. I have therefore made securing time for writing and indie business related activities my one and only resolution for 2017. To prove that my money is where my mouth is, I have also rented a house near my workplace. I’ll move on 5th January. This means that after an endless and arduous period of commuting and awkward writing on trains, trains are now out of the equation and with a 30-minute walk to and from work, I save myself at least 3 hours per day that can now be used to work on the projects which truly matter to me. Alongside the standing desk I ordered for my brand new ‘writing room’, the most significant improvement of my writing life that I have allowed myself in a long time.
If you are not yet drunk, merry or both and have enjoyed this post, or if you have any further important writing lessons to share with the world before the clock hits twelve, drop me a line in the comments below.
Happy New Year !!!!