Monthly Update and my Not-new, Not-new-year Resolutions

Although it’s not a new year, it is a new academic year. Maybe because I used to be a teacher and I live with a teacher and two school-age kids, September always has a feeling of new beginnings for me. I definitely have that back to school feel, but I’m also excited about getting back to writing after a break.

beginnings

What’s new?

August saw the release of All Man, a short story that was a spin-off from Top Me Maybe? I think that was everything that happened publishing-wise in August. I took most of the month off to spend time with the aforementioned teacher and kids.

What’s next?

LAL_comingsoonLike a Lover is out on Friday! It’s a spin-off from Helping Hand and tells Josh’s story. It’s already got some great reviews on Goodreads which is really exciting.

What’s in the pipeline?

Okay, this is the part that’s freaking me out. Because the answer is big fat nothing right now. But I did start something new this morning. It’s (hopefully) going to be a Christmas novella if all goes according to my half-arsed plan. I have an editing deadline for early October, so this month I need to write ALL THE WORDS.

Which bring me on to…

My not-new, not-new-year resolutions

So, you may or may not know that I’m an almost full-time writer. Alongside writing, I also run a (rapidly shrinking – thanks Amazon) internet retail business and a choir. But my writing income is expanding to replace that from the business (thanks Amazon – they give with one hand and take away with the other).

Being able to write as a job is awesome. I’ve been self-employed so long I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. It suits me and I want to be able to keep doing it. But I know that in order to maintain this as a career I need to learn to treat writing as a job. That means sticking at it even when it’s hard, putting the hours in, and staying productive. It’s a long game, and I’m a relative newbie. But I want to stick with it if I can, and in order to do that I need to develop some better habits. So as of now, I’m going to try to have more of a routine for my work (inspired by Brigham Vaughn’s post here).

I’m not sure a timetable will work for me. But I live by lists, so I’m going to keep writing my lists of things to do and try to prioritise writing, while also keeping some work-life balance. Being productive is exhausting and I don’t want to burn out.

To help me keep that balance I also have a list of resolutions. Most of these aren’t new to me but it’s good to remind myself of my goals/aims and why they keep popping up on my resolutions list!

Spend less time on social media
This one is a no-brainer. Social media is awesome if you like that kind of thing (and I do). But it’s a huge time-suck, and I can keep in touch with people and manage notifications perfectly well if I only spend a couple of hours a day on Facebook and Twitter instead of *looks shifty* more than a couple.

Write every day, Monday to Friday
If I’m going to make the deadlines I have looming, then this is the only way I’ll do it. I may write at weekends too but I like to give myself permission not to. The plan is to do writing sprints every morning to get at least 2000 done. Then if I manage more later in the day, that’s a bonus. But 10k a week is necessary.

Look after my physical and mental health
When I feel well, I write well. When I’m depressed/anxious/tired I tend to get blocked. I like to ensure I get five things every day:

  • good food
  • good sleep
  • exercise
  • fresh air
  • sunlight

Okay, living in Britain that last one can be a challenge. But I have a SAD lamp for the grey days and I will be using it.

Focus on my relationships
Spending time with family and friends is important to me. Working from home can make me very hermitty, especially in the winter when the weather’s crap. So, getting out and seeing people is good for me, and chilling out at home with my partner and the kids is important too.

Make time for new experiences
When I had a bad period of depression and writers’ block a couple of year ago, my friend and fellow author, Posy Roberts, told me that writers need input as well as output. This was excellent advice and I’ve never forgotten it.
It’s okay to take a break and do something you enjoy. Reading other stories, watching movies, hanging out with friends, trying a new hobby. You have to let life in to help your creativity flow. If you write in a bubble you get stuck with the same old stale ideas.

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Okay, wow. This was an epically long blog post for me. Well done if you made it to the end. If you did, why don’t you make some not-new, not-new-year resolutions of your own? If you want to tell me them in a comment, I’d love to hear them 🙂

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About Jay Northcote

Author of LGBT romance. Trans (he/him), Parent, cat herder, professional procrastinator.
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2 Responses to Monthly Update and my Not-new, Not-new-year Resolutions

  1. Lennan Adams says:

    Hey Jay!
    I can pretty much just say ditto to everything you said (except that, thank God, I live in the southern US so I do get more sunlight than you do, but I still use my SAD light and really just super DREAD Oct-Mar, oy…). I’m the mom of school-age kiddos, too, and Sept. is definitely my “New Year’s Resolution” time. I mostly work for myself (doing artsy stuff, graphic design, illustration, etc. and I really *blush* to say it out loud but I write a little, too – nothing like your wonderful writing, of course, but the people in my head won’t shut up till I get them out on paper, haha, and I really like doing it.)
    I am trying to work on my schedule right now so that I can actually do all the myriad things I want to do and that I can get paid to do and that I need to do (both for my family and for my sanity). I have to do stuff like laundry (hate), graphic design stuff to pay the bills (like, usually) and feed the soul stuff like drawing and writing (love but terrifies me, too, so it is kind of easy to put off…) There is that saying about feeding your rat or it will eat you. My “rat” really wants me to be productive with my creative endeavors, the ones that are all MINE and not just the stuff I am commissioned to do. I have really put aside doing “unnecessary” creative stuff in the last 13 years since my oldest daughter was born and have therefore gotten progressively less sane in that period of time, lol. I do get distracted by stuff (mostly Twitter lately ;~), but I rotate around…) and need a plan for that. I also read a LOT and I know I am a happier, more chill person (and a better writer) because I read so much, but I need to be smart about how much time I spend doing that, too. It’s such an escape for me, but too much escaping isn’t good. I know, moderation in all things, self-control, planning, blah blah…. It’s fun to be an adult, right?
    Anyway, good luck. :~) I am enjoying getting to know you a little on Twitter, etc. and can’t wait till 9/4, yay Josh! :~)
    XOXO
    Lennan

    • Hey 🙂 thanks for the reply.
      Good luck with getting your schedule sorted too. We should compare notes on twitter – except not when we’re supposed to be doing other things of course 😉 I think it’s a tough balance between the focusing creativity that pays the bills and indulging the creativity that is totally from your heart and for the love of it. If you’re lucky, they dovetail to some extent, but I think there is usually some element of compromise and that can be tricky.

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