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The Janus Effect

December 22nd, 2017

We’re now at that time when people start looking back over the year that’s just gone and looking forward to the future. So, I thought I’d share some of the advice that I’ve been given over the years and found helpful. I hope it will give you some ideas for how you intend to approach your writing over the next 12 months

1. Sit down and think about what you wish to achieve – but don’t be over-ambitious. Rather than saying ‘I’m going to write my novel…’ when you haven’t even started the first draft, try ‘I’m going to have the first six chapters completed by the end of March.’ Or ‘I’m going to send off two short stories/articles to X Magazine by the end of January’. Breaking things into smaller chunks makes them more attainable.

2. Plan treats. Think about the carrot and the stick but forget the stick for now. ‘When I’ve completed the first six chapters of my novel, I’ll take myself and a friend/other half for a slap-up afternoon tea,’ or ‘I’ll treat myself to that book I’ve been wanting to read for ages.’

3. Try to arrange at least one networking event, course or literary festival (more if you can afford the time and the money). Being with other writers and talking to them really does increase your motivation and creativity.

4. Write what you want to write (what you enjoy writing!) not what you think you should be writing because it’s a genre that’s in vogue at the time.

5. Do your best to write regularly. Five minutes a day is better than nothing. If you keep putting it off until you feel you’ve plenty of time to sit down and concentrate, uninterrupted – you might never finish anything at all. Because, let’s be honest, how many of us have lots of time to spare on a regular basis?

6. Even if you feel that what you are writing is uninspired, keep writing. There’s a lovely quote from Jodi Picoult: You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.

7. Always have a notebook or some kind of recording devise handy to take down your good ideas when they come into your mind – if you don’t, you’ll probably forget them!

8. And finally, my favourite quote from Stephen King (and I make no apologies for repeating this, though I’ve included it before): If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

So, all that remains is to wish you and yours a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and hope that 2018 will be the year when your writing ambitions really take off. And don’t forget, if you get any time away from the turkey, the kids or your in-laws this Christmas, use it selfishly – reading a good book or working on your writing is the best thing you can do for your mental health. (Well, it is according to Doctor Diana!)

I won’t be posting next Friday as I suspect I might have better things to do (even if it’s only following my own advice from the previous paragraph). But I’m looking forward to being back with you all in the New Year.


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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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