In the first week of December I found myself frustrated by the lack of time to sit down and work on any of my writing projects. I had ideas for blog posts, flash stories and short stories. Also, having finished the first draft of my children’s book, I wanted to get to work on the second. However, as happens in the run up to Christmas, other demands on my time kept appearing. And if they didn’t appear, I suddenly remembered something that had to be purchased, wrapped, sent, decorated, baked, cleaned……It’s the same for everyone. I know. After several days of worrying about not having enough time to get any writing done, which threatened to result in early-stage festive resentment, I made the decision to stop fretting and write off the month as far as writing was concerned.
It was, let me tell you, liberating.
Did I feel guilty at letting the writing slip? No.
Have I experienced a sense of loss? No.
Do I feel that I have let myself down for delaying a project? No.
Have I now lost the urge to write at all? No.
There may be those who would say that if I was a real writer I would simply HAVE to write every day. They might say that a real writer would always find time and make space for writing, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.
By taking a voluntary break at a very busy time of year, I avoided feeling at all guilty for spending time wrapping gifts properly; I was, for example, able to go out and find the perfect wrapping paper and even came up with a rather creative method of labelling, using old-style luggage tags. (These were commented on when it came to gift distribution). I felt that it was acceptable to pass a day baking festive biscuits. And eating them. I even enjoyed the prospect of having friends to dinner without feeling that it was encroaching on the precious time I might have earmarked for writing. In short, I had a relaxed and worry-free month.
This is not to say that writing fell entirely by the wayside. Ideas still came to me; some whilst I was engaged in the very yuletide pastimes which I had ditched the writing for in the first place. These were naturally noted down for reference in 2013. And of course the characters from my children’s novel have been consistent in the way they keep appearing to me; I could hardly have expected them to observe the month’s break as well, could I? So they have continued to grow and develop all the while, which is fantastic. I didn’t even have to make an effort.
The distance I gave myself from my notebooks and laptop has also offered me the chance to work out which writing projects are the most pressing; those for which I have the greatest enthusiasm. This is possibly the most useful thing to have come out of not writing for a while. I now feel energised and ready to take up my HB pencil and write again.
And what better way to celebrate the start of my writing year than see one of my stories published. The excellent editorial team at Every Day Fiction have taken my story ‘Worm Hole’. They offered me the chance to make some vital changes, which was an education in itself, and were happy with the end result. It is being sent out to their subscribers tomorrow (2nd Jan), but anyone can see it by heading over to their website everydayfiction.com.
This is the perfect kick-start to my year, and I sit, refreshed from my break and pencil at the ready, to face any number of new writing challenges. You can join me for the ride, if you like.