I wonder if there will ever be a September when I don’t feel the fluttering of fresh starts ingrained by a new academic year every year from primary school right through to university? Despite being well out of education, I still feel the familiar mix of excitement and apprehension as the start of the new term draws closer and August comes to a close. It is only through some strong will power that I don’t find myself wearing new shoes and clutching a pristine pencil case this week.
This September, I find myself thinking about my goals for the weeks, months and years ahead. It really does feel like there are some big life changes ahead this autumn, and in these times I like nothing more than to write a list that will keep me motivated and on track. Once I have written something down as a goal, I see it as a challenge and it is unusual for me not to complete the task once I have committed to it in writing.
Write and publish a novel
This is a goal that has always been at the back of my mind, but is something that I have only recently thought of as a real possibility. When I was a teenager, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and were all given fortune cookies after the meal. I kept mine (and still have it), as it said ‘You are a lover of words. One day you will write a book’. These words felt profound at the time, and I wondered if this would really come true. 16 years later, I feel certain that this will be something I achieve in the next 5 years.
Enter another short story competition
I entered my first short story competition last month and really enjoyed the process of writing, and the feeling of accomplishment on submitting the story. I find that any form of writing is good practice, and having a deadline to work towards helps me to focus. I am aiming to enter another competition within the next couple of months.
Write an article for a magazine and have an article published in a national newspaper
I am interested in writing for a magazine, as this may introduce new opportunities to write articles on a variety of topics for a broad audience. I have always enjoyed reading newspapers and magazines, and have often thought that it would be great to explore a different angle of a news story or topic. I hope to achieve this within the next year.
Attend a writing course
I have seen a number of writing courses in Bristol that I am interested in, but have not yet had the courage to book on to. Since having the girls, I have found that doing anything for myself leaves me feeling guilty at not spending the time with them and my wife. However, attending a course will be with the overall aim of supporting our family long term as I do want to make writing my career. It can be difficult to keep reminding myself of this, but I do want to book onto a course in the next month or two to develop my skills.
Make enough money as a writer to live a comfortable life as a family
This probably doesn’t need much explanation, but one of my most important goals is to start making money as a writer. This money will be my income, keeping our family financially secure and comfortable. I hope that working flexibly will allow me to be the mother that I want to be; able to do the school run and attend special events, and not feel stretched in too many directions.
Join a writing group
I had the opportunity to join a writing group earlier this year. A group of three other writers were getting together once a fortnight and had agreed to share around 2,000 words each fortnight before the meetings, ready to critique and encourage each other’s work. The other writers were all a lot more established than me, and at the time I was invited into the group, I wasn’t in a position to write regularly nor share my work. The group also met mid-week at lunchtime which would have been impossible for me whilst working.
I am still very interested in joining a writing group when the time is right, however, as I feel that this will be a great way to remain motivated to write and to receive timely feedback on any work I share. It will be nerve-racking to hear my work being critiqued, but I think this will help me grow as a writer and develop my writing style further. Once I am immersed in writing a novel, joining a group will prevent me from taking big breaks in writing, and encourage me to keep going until the novel is finished. I am really looking forward to this stage in my career, and having the opportunity to write freely.
I hope that all of these goals will at least be started within the next two years. Some will obviously be completed in a much shorter time frame, whilst others will be a work in progress. The great thing about having these goals documented is that I will be able to celebrate my success and progress over time. Visible progress can be a great stimulus for continuing to work hard and feeling more confident in one’s own abilities, and I hope that when I check back on my list over the next few months I will feel a sense of pride at my progress.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave me a message below or tweet me @workinglife2016.