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Over the twixmas period I inadvertently found myself hitting the writing refresh button and returning to my current work-in-progress. I don’t quite know how or why it happened but after months of barely thinking about it, let alone attempting to write, I am finally making progress.

New year, new goals

New Year's Eve 2024

I have a sort of ‘I do and I don’t’ approach to New Year’s Resolutions.

I no longer sit down and consciously write lists of things I intend to achieve over the next year as Jack and I did for many years when we lived in Tenerife and were attempting to establish a regular income for ourselves. On the other hand, I think we all have an instinctive re-set button that kicks in at the start of a new calendar year, a throwback to our Pagan past, that sees me mentally prioritising things I want to achieve.

Interestingly, the main theme of my subconscious planning this year has not been to do with my writing, rather my environment in terms of improvements to our house and garden, and our ever-present need to ensure we will still have a good income in 2024. Nothing at all to do with finishing a first draft of my first novel, or entering a short story competition, or even getting back to my writing on a generic level.

And maybe that’s precisely why I found myself back at my writing.

Breaking Through Writer’s Block

I have always considered writer’s block to be the inability to begin writing but I now realise it’s equally applicable to the inability to sustain writing. And that’s what I’ve been suffering from for the past four months. Although I wrapped it up in excuses about getting caught up in historical fact versus fiction and the day job taking up all my time and effectively dulling creativity (although to be fair, that was certainly the case for much of last year), what I really needed was to hit the writing refresh button.

But it seemed, the more I fretted about needing to return to the manuscript, the less able I felt to even look at the thing. So I didn’t. Then the day after Boxing Day, I decided to just skim my eyes back over my synopses and the last chapter I had written. I had no intention of actually attempting to start writing again, I was just going to remind myself where I was up to. But without thinking, I started to fiddle around on bits of editing, then I started drafting a new chapter. Before I knew it, I’d spent four mornings working on it and had finished another two chapters.

I think that by not putting any pressure on myself to do anything other than look, I was able to dispel the imposter syndrome and move forward. And I think that having a long and complete break from it has helped me to return with fresh eyes. I’m just hoping that I can now continue and that I won’t be back here six months down the line moaning about any number of things that have prevented me from continuing my work-in-progress.

Coincidentally, the first Friday email from Jericho Writers’ Harry this year, has one of those ‘well duh’ statements that just sound like a platitude until you’re in writer’s block, and then suddenly it’s like Eastern enlightenment. Harry says:

There’s no easy way to write a book. The only technique that is pretty much guaranteed to work is: bum on chair, fingers on keyboard.

If I can master that simple discipline, who knows, 2024 might just see an actual first draft being dragged, kicking and screaming, into life.

Whatever hopes and aspirations you may have for your own writing in 2024, I sincerely hope they come to pass. Happy New Year!


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