Monday, January 29, 2018

It's Never Too Late to Make a Fresh Start

We're already nearly a whole month into 2018 and many of you will already be in the swing of things with regards to your goals and plans for this year. But what if things aren't going so well? Life is seldom neat and straightforward, allowing us to follow a preset path without deviation. It's about knowing how to adapt and when to begin again.


Personally, I'm somewhat late on my 2018 plans because I was away on a trip at the start of the year and then received some devastating personal news. The sort of news that makes you reappraise where you're going with your life and what you want to do. I know that writing is still going to be a part of that, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't keep up with whatever schedule I set out. The new year is a great time to set goals and resolutions, but it's important to know that you can do that at any time. Here are some tips for just that:


  • Prioritise what is important
Set an overall goal (or goals) for what you want to achieve and then make a list of smaller tasks that will get you there. Discard whatever isn't necessary.

  • Go easy on yourself
While it's good to push yourself and try and do as much as you possibly can, recognise there will be times when that just doesn't happen. You're only human. Take a deep breath and regroup, which is kind of the message of this whole post.

  • Understand when it's time to take a break
Sometimes trying to push ahead through a difficult time can be counterproductive. Everything seems to get on top of you and nothing makes sense. You might end up with more work to do by trying to unpick the resultant mess than if you had allowed yourself some time off, during which your subconscious will hopefully get to work to sort out the issues.

  • Use a rewards system
If this is something you haven't done before, get on the road to following your new plan by implementing a reward system. Allow yourself a treat for the completion of each small task on your overall journey. This could be as simple as 10 minutes' social media time for each hour spent on editing or a bigger reward like going to the movies after completing your second (or third or tenth) draft.

Do you have anything to add? Any further tips for making a fresh start with your writing?

29 comments:

nashvillecats2 said...

I can relate to what you have written Nick. I too have had over the years awful news and situations and with positivity and tenacity in mind I hope to come through it all.

Thanks for sharing this with us, a good read.

Yvonne.

Pat Hatt said...

Knowing when to take a break is a good one. You don't want to stress things further and end up worse for wear.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can so relate to what you're saying too, Nick. I've had much heartache and loss over these last years that have totally limited my ability to even write. Just coming out of it. Sometimes, life gives you such hard things to live, and you have go through them to get to the new you. Good luck with your challenges.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Great post.
Thank you for sharing.
Heather

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic tips, Nick! I'm trying to be easier on myself. Sometimes it's difficult when you're your own boss.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips, Nick! Especially as this is about the time people start to give up on their goals and resolutions.

Julia Thorley said...

I should like to add: don't be afraid to lean. Ask for help when you need it, and accept it with good grace. Wishing you happy and successful times in 2018.

Jen Chandler said...

I'm so sorry to hear you've had some devastating news.

Taking breaks is essential. I've stopped and started many times and each time I return to writing, I'm far more "full" than I would have been had I stayed with it and allowed myself to work dry. We need time away from the work in order to fill up on life. Re-prioritizing things is a good way to see just where writing is in your life and where you need to be in regards to the other things you have going on.

Take care and I hope things smooth out and become peaceful soon.

Jen

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - I feel for you ... you've had your fair share of difficult times. I'm so pleased you've got your writing to fall back on, and for that matter to back you up ... take care and with thoughts for the coming year. All the best - Hilary

The Cynical Sailor said...

Great tips, especially the rewards one.

I'm really sorry to hear that you've had some devastating news. Keeping you in my thoughts - Ellen

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm so sorry about the horrible news.

Make a list and put it in order of importance. Whatever doesn't get done, just bump to the next day.

cleemckenzie said...

I love to reward myself and you've reminded me I should do it more often. Thanks, Nick.

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! said...

Hi human, Nick,

I'm sorry to read about the challenges that happened to you. Still, your pawsitive attitude will work wonders.

You make some excellent points, my fine human friend. I might also suggest that when a writer is struggling to formulate their thoughts into the magic that be the written word, have an animal friend, such as a dog, pawhaps, take over.

All the beast, um, all the best,

Penny

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great points about setting priorities. I reward myself by a trip to the bookstore whenever I finish a draft of a manuscript.

Jemi Fraser said...

Hope you and yours are well!

Prioritizing is SO important - life is so busy & chaotic if I don't prioritize, I'd never get anything done :)

Robert Bennett said...

My biggest issue is always giving myself the time to work. If I ever have any downtime, I feel like a failure, so I fill it with STUFF and that can be problematic.

Chrys Fey said...

Knowing when to take a break tends to be my downfall. I tend to overwork myself. Not good.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

My conundrum these days is to make a break and go to Kindle Select. I'm not really seeing a benefit...not like I'll get a lot of advertising out of AZ ... and I hate the free pit other authors are falling in.

Lexa Cain said...

So very sorry to hear about your sad news. Your Fresh Start post really speaks to me. This is exactly what I need to do. Thanks!

Tyrean Martinson said...

These are great tips! I just have to begin and begin again each month, it seems.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oops - I was signed into my teacher account with gmail - trying to jump from task to task ... comment previous this is mine.

Gene Desrochers said...

Hey Nick, those are good thoughts and I too relate to the family / personal situations that arise. In fact, that very thing set me back at the end of 2017 and I've been trying to regroup ever since. I find that taking any moments to write or edit has helped get me back into the swing, but some days the time gets away trying to take care of mundane things or errands to fix problems that continuously arise.

Liesbet said...

You are so right about the not beating yourself up part, when things don't go according to plan. But, then again, life (and we live a less ordinary one) always seems to get in the way of writing, whether it is because of travel, changing house sits, extra work for our business, or, like in January, a family emergency that had us fly back from the west coast to the east coast for three weeks. It was way too busy with other responsibilities to get any writing done. I understand that this happens, and I'm mostly OK with this, but it is also why my memoir project is already going for over two years! Small steps, right? :-)

Michelle Wallace said...

Beginning January 2018, I've made a great fresh start and I'm just trying to keep the momentum going for as long as possible.

Hope you're okay, Nick. Take care.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What an inspiring post. We need to hear these words. We are often far too hard on ourselves. Thanks, Nick. Best to you.

Lynn La Vita said...

Hi Nick,
Thank you for your timely advice. Many of us struggle everyday to express ourselves through writing. Your advice, encouragement, and invitation to share tips for making a fresh start is very much appreciated.

My tip is to take photos of anything that grabs your attention. And carry a small spiral notebook to scribble thoughts for future use.

Here's how I follow my own advice, last week I saw a dog resting on top of a soft dirt pile. Later in the week, a dog was stretched out on the hood of a car. Snap. Snap. These two photo may inspire a post. At the very least, they brought a smile. Thank you for sharing your situation with us. Great article.

http://la-vita.us/Write/

Lynn La Vita said...

Hi Nick,
Thank you for your timely advice. Many of us struggle everyday to express ourselves through writing. Your advice, encouragement, and invitation to share tips for making a fresh start is very much appreciated.

My tip is to take photos of anything that grabs your attention. And carry a small spiral notebook to scribble thoughts for future use.

Here's how I follow my own advice, last week I saw a dog resting on top of a soft dirt pile. Later in the week, a dog was stretched out on the hood of a car. Snap. Snap. These two photo may inspire a post. At the very least, they brought a smile. Thank you for sharing your situation with us. Great article.

http://la-vita.us/Write/

Haddock said...

I do that more often - Take a deep breath and regroup.

Lynn Newman said...

"Understand when it's time to take a break
Sometimes trying to push ahead through a difficult time can be counterproductive. Everything seems to get on top of you and nothing makes sense. You might end up with more work to do by trying to unpick the resultant mess than if you had allowed yourself some time off, during which your subconscious will hopefully get to work to sort out the issues."

Sorry, Nick, that's it's been difficult. Staying and accepting that time is hard. Trying to do that myself. Sometimes pushing through helps, sometimes not. I guess I need that wisdom.