Some habits for 2018

Some habits for 2018

Last year, the title of this new year post was ‘Some goals for 2017’. This year I’ve replaced the word goals with habits as they are far more meaningful. If I form certain habits, I will achieve certain goals. It makes far more sense.

I’ll use the same categories though. Here we go.

Work

When I wrote last year’s post, I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Reading it back I am amazed at how calm I sound. I was not calm at all.

I was about to lose my job and had nothing else lined up. There were no suitable jobs on the market and I had no freelance clients. I’d warned my parents we may need help with the mortgage. Honestly, I was terrified.

What a difference a year makes.

Shortly after writing that post, I managed to bag my first freelance client. As I type this now, I have worked with 10 other companies in the last 12 months and currently have a thriving copywriting and content production business.

It has not been easy. I have said yes to every opportunity and worked most days and evenings, especially in the last six months. This has been all around increased childcare duties too.

But I love it. The independence. The responsibility. The challenge. I’ve met and worked with some great people and put myself out there more than ever before. So far, it’s worked out well and I hope it continues.

I don’t have many changes for 2018. I’d just like to organise my workload in a way that frees up my evenings again. Well, as many evenings as possible.

Writing

Through necessity, I’ve thrown everything into my business, which means that my fiction has suffered. Last year, I said I hoped to have a first draft of a second novel finished by December. I am nowhere near, sadly.

But I am still confident and I do really like what I’m working on. I have a couple of habits that I would like to form that will hopefully get things moving.

First, I aim to work on my fiction for an hour a day. I’ve never been good with daily word counts, no matter how low I’ve set the number. I’m not the sort of writer who bangs out 2000 words regardless of quality. I often wish I was.

But so much of writing is not about the writing. The habit I need to form is not about the number of words I write, it’s committing to and protecting a time slot. If I ‘write’ for an hour, t will be time well spent, whatever the outcome. I know that eventually, the words will come, one way or another.

The second habit is around planning and outlining. I did not have an outline when I wrote A is for Angelica and it’s never felt like a very useful exercise. But I think the problem is with me. I think I need to loosen up and accept the help that having an outline would provide.

That said, I’m not really sure how to do it. If you have any outlining tips or advice, please do get in touch and share your wisdom.

Internetting

As the freelance work mounted up last year, I decided to put the Shelflife newsletter on hiatus before starting it up again in December. People like it and I think I’ve found a way to streamline the process of putting it together. So a habit for 2018 is to publish Shelflife consistently over the year.

Also, I have so many podcast ideas and I am desperate to act on one of them. I really miss doing the Write for Your Life podcast and having produced three shows for clients in 2017, I’ve rather got the bug back.

I’d like to do something that’s very much my own thing. It would need to fit into a busy schedule and not negatively affect my work and writing. Ideally, it would complement those things. I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

There are two other things that I can’t stop thinking about.

One, setting up a Patreon account for my short fiction. I’m a strong advocate of the patronage model and would love to make this a reality. It would take an awful lot of work, but if I could make money earned from writing fiction part of my regular income, I’d be literally living the dream.

Two, I wasn’t joking in my last post when I said I was tempted to set up a social network for writers. I think it’s totally doable. But it’s also hard to justify the time I’d need to put in if it didn’t pay its way. How many platforms and apps have disappeared because they weren’t financially sustainable? Loads of them.

Would writers pay a small monthly fee to join a social network that was just for them? I don’t know. If I could find the courage, I’d love to take the risk of finding out.

Reading

There’s not much to say here. I need to read more. I want to read more.

I’ve always read last thing at night, but since having kids that’s proved a particularly terrible tactic. I can’t keep my eyes open and I usually fall asleep within minutes. It’s really annoying, actually.

In 2017, I said I was going to try and read 25 pages a day. That went well for a while. But then I struggled with a couple of books that I didn’t like very much and the freelance work started to pile up. I let things slip. And of course, I got nowhere near my target of 30 books for the year.

I’m not setting a target number of books this year. But I am going to try the 25-pages-a-day tactic again. I’m also going to try and get into the habit of reading more shorter books. Oh, and I aim to keep track of them better too.

Anything else?

Two more things to make a note of here.

Last year I said I wanted to reduce the amount of noise I let into my brain. After Brexit and Trump, I said I would use technology less to read the news. My goodness, it’s been difficult. And I don’t think I’ve done a very good job.

Here is the reality. I run a full-time, one-person company and I put a lot of time and effort into it. But whenever I stop working, the first thing I do – almost always – is use my phone or laptop to see what latest nonsense is in the news. And rest assured, there is always nonsense.

I don’t expect that I’ll be able to shut myself away from what’s happening in the world. But that trigger – to check the news when I get the chance – is not healthy and all those seconds and minutes build up. I could be doing something more useful instead. Like everything I’ve mentioned in this post.

So my new habit for 2018? Break that habit.

Lastly, this year I want to relax a little. For so long, if I’ve not been with family, I’ve been working or writing (or thinking about working and writing). In 2018, I would like to give myself permission to do more sitting on the sofa. Watching films. Reading books. Playing video games.

And that’s it.

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

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