Well, Christmas was – surely – a month ago, not two weeks as the new calendar indicates.

It is a wonderfully busy time of year, but I also welcome the opportunity that comes with the post-Christmas lull to be sitting and collecting thoughts and plans for the days and months ahead.

As well as shortly starting on my Simple Things challenge, I am splitting the days between writing, research and craft work.

Research is probably the most important thing for me in the long term. I thoroughly enjoy finding stories to turn into writing pieces. My favourite stories are those of historical nature, or those which reveal people learning and achieving with dedication to their chosen field.

At the moment, I am delving into artisan food producers, which is extremely rewarding and interesting. There are people out there with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, putting long hours and resources into building up a small business.

My other pursuit – and here comes a tip – is undertaking craft work. I primarily crochet, both first thing in the morning and during the evening. Not only does this help with producing gifts and small saleable items to keep my budget ticking over (Resolution 1A.32, vol. 64 – market stall), but it provides another rich vein of possible stories.

More importantly, perhaps, my craft work gives me a quick tangible boost in the pursuit of larger goals. Making something material gives my brain a chance to tick over with other matters (more so if it’s an easy pattern in progress), and I receive an ‘I can do it!’ zing once a project is finished. So, if you are like me and working in a largely intangible field – or if you’re muddling around with something new and scary in general – here is my tip.

Make sure you have something tangible to keep you going. If you cook, take time out to create something special. If you garden, get out there and plant or prune. Photography (another of my brain break activities), woodwork, sewing, painting – whatever it may be, keep it going, use it as encouragement, and don’t get bogged down in the larger, more imposing WORK that hits you in the face every morning. If I woke up and tried to head straight into full on research, I’d fade pretty rapidly. Tangible achievements help me to keep the energy going on the intangibles and unknowns.

I look forward to sharing both the tangibles and intangibles with you in 2016!

Everything's coming up roses in 2016
Everything’s coming up roses in 2016


I’ve been sitting here thinking about Christmas, the New Year and writing in a looping continuum for the last little while.

I’m always looking at different forms of writing and wondering if I could tackle them – epistolary (a story told in letters), magazine articles, time travel writing and biography being favourites – then resolving to either start or continue doing so in the New Year, no matter what.

In between, there is Christmas; that great gathering point of the year that can be both so uniting and so contentious.  I’ll just say that I’ve always loved it, and with another ‘first Christmas’ (my youngest niece) approaching, it elicits nothing but goodwill and good wishes from everyone I know to every corner of the world.

Whatever shape it takes – like my writing – I wish you all the very best for Christmas, and for the year ahead.

A beautiful and bright time – Christmas and the New Year