Friday, 30 November 2018


It’s the start of December, my head is whirling with things to do and the dire seasonal cold is underway.

Nevertheless, inspired by my own wayward Gemini star sign and by all the deals displayed at this time of year, today I offer you your very own 2-for-1 ABBA post: 


Enjoy or ignore what you choose, but do have yourself a very merry little December.


- Focus as deeply as you can on your own writing work and don’t fret overmuch about what others are doing.
- Create and guard your own best-suited pattern of regular writing.
- Write daily morning pages or journal entries just for yourself.
-  Make a comfortable writing space or corner for you and your work.
- Get to know those small rituals that will help to you get into the writing zone.
- Look after your own health. Get up and move around every so often. Go for walks.
- Visit galleries & museums & interesting places and so on by yourself so you can listen to your own thoughts and make notes or scribble rather than having to chat.
- Don’t attend to social media overmuch.
- Don’t let your hopeful soul be disturbed too greatly – especially at certain times of the year -  when other books and writers appear, gaudied in publicity and prizes.
- Develop hobbies, activities and crafts to occupy your hands so you can let your creative mind murmur along in the background, sifting through your writing problems.

Alternatively . . .

- Read beyond your own knowledge: in fiction, non-fiction poetry and media.
- Develop a network of work-based business contacts at all levels; a hard task when you’re shy, but hiding away never helps. There’s no such thing as a successful “unknown writer.”
- And do develop a network of trusted, real-world writing friends for your own self – and for their selves too! You will need sympathetic support.
- Investigate the writing & arts organisations out there, national, regional and local. Subscribe when it is useful or practical.
- Go to the most useful-to-you writing events, workshops & author talks, if you can.
- Keep an eye on the writing world out there, especially book genres that you could or might want to work in.
- Use social media to sustain yourself: learn to ignore the lures that cause you stress.
- Speak – real words not email! - to someone other than yourself often.  Develop non-writing topics of conversation.
- Get involved in a project close to your heart – libraries or literacy or similar topics – that will overlap with your own work but also give you a wider context.
- Go places. Do things. Meet people. Be curious about the world beyond your desk and make time to keep your well well-filled, okay?

That’s all. That’s it. You can choose exactly what you need.
Put your whole self in?
Put your whole self out?
Or just – as most of us do – keep the old writing hokey-cokey going.
Rah rah rah!
It’s a good time of year for it! 

Must add that while suffering, snottily, and feeling sorry for myself, I cheered myself up greatly by reading a bright new hardback borrowed from my local library: HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life by the crime writer Sophie Hannah. Enjoyable!

 Penny Dolan


Joan Lennon said...

Wise words, Penny - and may your lurgie leave you in peace soon!

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks, Joan, Oh, to be as wise as the words! The bug's still brooding but I think, with this next snoozy nap, I might start winning. :-)

Gwen Grant said...

Thanks for this, Penny. All taken to
heart, of course!

Cindy Jefferies said...

Good fun Penny. Hope you are entirely recovered very soon!

Anne Booth said...

Dear Penny, thank you. This is absolutely brilliant and I need to read each line several times and apply each bit of advice xxx

Jeannie said...

Love this! I'm actually going to print it out! Thanks. I heard Sophie Hannah talking about her book on the radio, and it sounds very interesting.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I think all writers fall slightly into Gemini... otherwise how would they be able to take on so many personae?
If you can write this when you are ill, Penny... then what can you produce in full blooming health? But yes we've seen those brilliant blogs too! Will look out for that book and of course Sophie Hannah is the daughter our famous Adèle Geras. A great blog for going into the new year!

julia jones said...

Like this very much - shared it - thank you

rose gomez said...
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rose gomez said...
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Sue Purkiss said...

Really good advice - now to follow it! Particularly certain bits...