Christmas and creativity

December is my favourite time of year. It’s all Christmas baking (and yeah, eating), non-stop catch-ups with friends and driving past decorated houses that would make Clark Griswold proud. But what I love just as much is that sense of winding down and hope for a fresh, new year.

I spent most of today looking over old footage and photos of our growing puppy, Henry, as well as photos from our UK/Europe trip and I loved every second of it. I make a point of looking back at what I’ve done through the year (especially what I’ve enjoyed) before the New Year resolution fever grips me. If you’ve never done it, give it a go. Especially if you’re a writer. Jotting down your 2013 highlights and achievements is a great reminder of all the fun stuff that bubbled up from your hard work.

For me, December is about embracing fun and creativity. It’s for ‘filling the well’ before we get too serious and ambitious on 1 January. So get crafty with your Christmas wrapping, go to a Christmas concert, bake something ambitious, catch up with a group of friends and talk absolute nonsense, make a tower out of your to-be-read book pile, or (and I really want to do this again soon) go to the movies and see two films back-to-back. The next few weeks are for living it up and relaxing!

While it may not sound relaxing to everyone, I’m also looking forward to developing two new YA projects this Christmas. They’re both in their infancy – all random, scrappy notes with plot holes and fat question marks – and if this morning is anything to go by, this photo could sum up my Christmas/New Year (complete with snoozing pup).

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So that’s me signing off for 2013. I hope you have a fun and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

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BIG DREAMS

For fun this week, I asked my writing group if they would share their big dreams.

Big dreams are not ‘goals’ exactly. We were not discussing our one-year plans or deadlines that we are working towards over the next few months.

Instead, we shared our wild, crazy fantasies about our futures as writers. These are the dreams about the mobs of adoring fans lining up at book signings, or making the best seller list five times in a row, or writing in our million-dollar mansions on the beach.

So often, we spend our time concentrating on what is wrong in our work. We analyse it, tear it apart and re-create it. If that’s not good enough, then we do it all over again. This is why I love my big dreams. They’re wild and perhaps unobtainable but they are fun and give me a feeling of freedom.

You’ve probably heard not to start writing novels for fame and money. This is absolutely true but it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your writing fantasies completely. Keep them safe in your imagination or laugh about them with good friends. Some days, these wild, crazy fantasies will be the only thing pushing you through another line edit or another draft of your manuscript.

So work hard but dream big. You never know what the future might bring you. If you have never shared your big dreams with anyone, do it now. I promise it will lighten your day.