A new year is here and it’s all about heart…

I hope you’re all rested and you had a lovely festive season. 2019 seems to have raced here, and I’m fully embracing it after some delicious downtime. Time off over Christmas was a first for me, but something I’ll definitely repeat in future – if I’m not on a book deadline, that is… Which brings me straight to my focus for the year ahead: writing.

img_7820Last year, a lot of the business side took over and although I wrote frequently, I didn’t always feel completely present. There was a bit too much trying to squish writing in around everything else and not enough breathing space. Which is fine – we sometimes need years like that – but 2019 has to be different. This year, writing takes priority and all the other stuff will happen, but in second place.

That doesn’t mean the other (money earning, profile building, book selling) stuff will be substandard – personally, I struggle to do anything that doesn’t get my all – but it does mean that I will write before I complete my freelance work, answer emails, create events, mark assignments etc. It means my writing will get the freshest part of my day (as much as possible – flexibility is always a must!) and I’ve already started the year as I mean to go on… how about you?

In case you’re already feeling like a failure due to a broken resolution… forget resolutions and accentuate the positive, that’s my motto! Don’t give something up or make deletions; add in something (or things!) for 2019, that will help improve upon your life.

Whether it be morning pages, reading more poetry, taking walks, additional family time, or monthly skype calls with a friend, starting the year with good intentions that actually make a positive difference to your life is a much more motivating way to embrace the new year. My own additions include more music, more colour, drinking more water, and some actual days off.

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A good friend of mine sums up her year ahead with a single word: an intention. And so, I have decided to try this also. The word I have chosen is HEART…

Getting to the heart of the story, doing everything wholeheartedly, looking after the heart, taking on heart-felt projects, laughing heartily. Every variation of living life with heart; that’s what I want from the year ahead. If something has HEART, then it’s right for me.

And when I falter or when I find decisions difficult – which will inevitably happen at some point and on multiple occasions – I will have a reference point that can help steer me towards the better choice. And sometimes that choice can mean turning something down or choosing the more challenging option – I’m looking forward to seeing where this word, this intention of HEART, will lead.

What about you? What is your word for the year? What can you add into your life that will increase positivity and get you fired up?

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Giving Back

Lend a helping hand where it’s needed

Writing is a lonely occupation and it can be easy to get wrapped up in one’s own book, marketing, self promotion, sales, etc. However, as writers we need to remember that whatever stage of our career we’re at, we owe some of our learning to others.

Whether it’s favourite authors, university lecturers, creative writing class tutors or feedback from publishers, we gain inspiration, support and guidance from others on a regular basis. And that’s why it’s important to give something back.

Even in the early stages of your career, you can help another writer by reviewing their book, sharing their tweets, or commenting on blog posts. You can encourage another writer – new or established – to keep going. You can buy their books, attend their launches and introduce them to other people you know they’d click with. Every helpful action counts.

Thankfully, one of the things I love about the writing community is its generosity. From bestselling authors to debut novelists, writers share a certain amount of camaraderie that extends to others in the same profession, whatever stage of their career. Rather than competitive, it’s supportive. Particularly online. But is there an element we’re forgetting?

There’s so much we can do that doesn’t involve clicking on the Retweet button. Are there any local writers you can support by spreading the word on their launch? Are there people in the local community that you can share your skills with? Can you help encourage local talent?

As you’ve all heard me mention many times, I gave up a great job in the city to live rurally and write full time. I probably should apologise to you for banging on about it so much, but in reality, I can’t! I’ve gained so much knowledge and have been made to feel so welcome in this small community of farms, fishing and artists, that I can’t stop saying how wonderful it is. Because it really is.

That’s why I’ve decided to give something back. It’s not much, but I know that the winter months are long and tedious for many children in this area. The weather dictates outdoor activities and the fishing and farming are both dangerous and difficult. The scenery is still beautiful, the people still welcoming and hardworking, but leisure activities are limited. So, I’m starting two children’s book clubs and two children’s creative writing classes in Whyte Books, the local bookstore.

Now, I’m not looking for praise – I reckon I’ll get more out of it than the kids in many ways – but I am hoping that this post makes you thinkWhat can I do as payback?

It doesn’t have to be direct teaching or take up too much of your time. Recently, friend and writer Maria Duffy suggested a #onekinddeed day, where people tweeted about something nice they did for someone else, just because they wanted to. What a lovely idea – and one that was very well received.

I believe that as writers, we need to take note of Maria’s spirit and lead by example. Why? Because talent needs to be fostered. Because rejection is tough. Because we’ve all had difficult days and we’ll all have them again. And don’t forget, there’s another generation of writers on the way, ready to inspire, engage and enthrall – they just need to know it’s possible.

What will you do today?

(With thanks to Maria for inspiring this post)