The MIROnline team tells their writing resolutions for 2019
The beginning of a new year heralds a fresh start, a chance to try something different or revisit something we’ve neglected. Whether it’s joining a gym, staying sober through January or trying a vegan lifestyle, there are many options available to us. When it comes to reading and writing, what challenges can we set ourselves to grow as writers? We asked some of the MIROnline team what writing resolutions they had set themselves for the year ahead:
My New Year’s resolution is to read consistently throughout the year, as I didn’t read as much as I’d like to have done in 2018. I’m aiming for 12 books this year, so at least one a month. – Sian Hughes, Copy Editor & Features Team
Scaling the Pile
Now people have stopped turning up at random times of the day and night, expecting turkey sandwiches and mince pies, my dining table has resumed its proper purpose. That is as a central location for reference books, essays, anthologies, journals, short stories, flash fictions, and lists. And the tsundoku.
It is a mash-up of two Japanese terms; tsunde oku – to let something pile up, and doku – to read. Jam them together and you get the labradoodle word; tsundoku (n) a pile of books that you really mean to get around to reading, sometime, soon, definitely.
This accumulation of future reading matter never seems to hinder the acquisition of yet more books; I yield to temptation, often on the flimsiest of impulses, to add to the pile(s). But the cumulative weight of the unread is a burden; an obligation unfulfilled. And now I can name it, I am going to do something about it.
My tsundoku had previously been lurking in several locations; on the desk, by my bed, on window sills, gathering dust on a coffee table. Some of the oldest had made it to bookshelves where they lay perversely crosswise like brand new palimpsests. Now they are all gathered in one towering, diverse, wordy pile, and 2019 is the year I am going to read my way through from top to bottom. I could set myself a target, maybe one a week, but that’s probably too ambitious as I’m quite a slow reader. But the thing with progress is, it’s more about direction than speed, so I will just make a start, pick one off the pile. This one’s about owls.
For the next few weeks, while the weather is cold, that’s what I will be doing; reading. Reading about owls, then a biography of one of the Mitfords, then some Russian fantasy. Fortunately, my project can run concurrently with my other New Year’s resolution; Kalsarikänni, –drinking beer on your own, at home in your underpants, with no intention whatsoever of going out. – Jupiter Jones, Copy Editor
Embracing the challenge
One of my biggest writing resolutions this year is to take on the 100 submissions challenge. As the name suggests, the idea is to submit your work to one hundred different literary magazines, competitions, agencies, publishers, or wherever writing can be submitted. I have seen a tonne of other writers doing this and I want to give it a go. I hope it’ll encourage me not only to write but also to get to know the writing community more in-depth. I also think the challenge is also a great way to get your name out there, to have people read your work and get some encouraging or inspirational words along the way. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, I might actually be successful too! That would be nice. – Peter J Coles, Deputy Managing Editor (@peafield)
Being less precious about space
I’m an inherently lazy person. Given the choice between doing nothing, and even doing things I love, I would prefer to do nothing. Just sleep, eat, watch reruns of MTV’s The Hills – that real nothingness, where nothing is achieved and nothing is required, of body or mind.
Because of this lack of character, whenever I come to write, I face a struggle even getting to my laptop or desk. Because I’d prefer to be doing nothing, trying nothing and failing nothing.
It takes a lot of energy to remember that when I’m writing, it’s the best few hours of my week, that I feel like a whole person, that I feel better about myself, more positive about what I’m trying to achieve, and, not to mention, astoundingly smug. But then writing time rolls back around again and I’m back to square one.
I write in blocks of time, usually at the weekend, usually a Saturday afternoon. I dedicate this time solely to writing. Writing HAS to get done, like hoovering and homework. I set pedantic rules for myself before I can start; that I must write at a desk, in silence, for a minimum of three hours, in which there better not be any distractions. If these things aren’t in place then, well writing is abandoned. There’s always more nothing to get done!
But this way of writing was creating too much pressure. If I hadn’t achieved anything good in my Saturday afternoon, then I’d feel like liked I’d failed, and sacrificed good time that I could have spent doing nothing.
So in January I’ve decided to change this. At present, I have several project-pots boiling. The only way to give each of them attention, I realised, was to approach the task of writing with more flexibility.
Instead of restricting my writing time to blocks of time on the weekend, I would try squashing writing into my day-today life. Writing on my lunch-break, in cafes, at my desk, on my bike (in my head), snatching time after I’ve woken up, before I go to sleep, working on each idea as and when I can.
I don’t expect to write anything exceptional in the stolen ten minutes before the children I teach get into class, or during the time it takes for my partner to brush their teeth before bed. I can use the weekends to re-read and edit what I’ve written in the week.
I hope that writing everyday means I feel less awkward about calling myself a writer. Finding time to write in the whirlwind of a day job and travel and family and tedium might also bring focus to other parts of my life. – Lauren Miller, Features Editor
Take time to reflect
I’ve always been incredibly critical of my own work, sometimes to the point that not even a pen scratch makes it to the page. Being able to critique your own work is a crucial tool in editing, but you also need to be able to tone it down (or mute it) when you’re still in the creation stages.
In 2018 I began to have a sense of the kind of writer I was (now there’s a phrase that takes getting used to!) and how I write. For 2019, I want to pay closer attention to the ways in which I work best, the ways that help me produce creative pieces. To realise that, sometimes, procrastination has a purpose. I shouldn’t feel guilty about the 3 hours reorganising the book shelves, again, if it meant I sat and wrote with a clearer head afterwards. – Lyndsey Garrett, Blog Manager
Whatever your resolutions or plans for 2019, the MIROnline team wishes you all the best for the year!