Time for writing: Space for writing

Some writers get up very early and do a few thousand words in that quiet time before the world presses in on them. I am not one of these.

The nearest I got was a regular 6.45 wake up each morning; a hurried breakfast and out for the 7.15 bus. The ride into the city centre gave me thirty minutes thinking time, jotting time, plotting time, followed by a similar block of time in a coffee shop before starting work. Lunchtime was a quick sandwich whilst scanning work papers. The bus-ride home was usually rush-hour, crowded, noisy, tiring: not conducive to writing – so the next bit of time able to be squeezed out for being creative was mid-evening or odd hours at the weekend.

It wasn’t ideal. Despite that, a number of things were written that way: Made in Birmingham, the Tales; Made in Birmingham, the Poems; It’s Murder on the Eleven; Another Glorious Day. This was because I was able to see at least one fragment of me as being a writer, and was determined in creating spaces and times in which to write.

Once retired, things were different – but retirement didn’t bring endless free time for writing. My normal getting up time became more like 8.00am. Breakfast was less hurried. There was then a walk across the nearby park to buy a newspaper. A couple of coffees, and a gentle read of the paper, and it was mid-morning: Time to check emails, Twitter, Facebook and line the writing tasks up for the day. There were usually a couple of domestic tasks to do: bits of shopping to get in, or things to move around, or other odd jobs to do. Writing might start then, or after an early sandwich lunch.

That has become a new pattern for me. Writing at home or in a High Street coffee shop. Late morning into early afternoon. Space for writing and time for writing.

It isn’t always direct writing of new stuff. Often it is editing, or redrafting articles from the website. Sometimes it is simply puzzling about ways forward, reading stored up background information, cross-referencing things. The writing may be on a work of fiction, or a poem, or may be on the next post for a blog, or the next article for the www.thewordsthething.org.uk website.

Retirement has brought more time for writing – but it has also brought new pressures that eat into that time. Not having to squeeze the writing into that short pre-work slot means that it can be done at leisure – or can be distracted from by Twitter, cups of tea, answering cold-call nuisances on the telephone, the neighbour calling round … and that is before the family things. Relationships need time spent on them; children need supporting or listening to; grandchildren expect to be played with. Then there are holidays, birthdays, visits, days out –the writing time can drain away. Time is there but with no simple guarantee that it will be maintained for writing.

It is the same with maintaining space for writing. The largest table in the house is ideal for spreading stuff out, resting the laptop on, writing at. Unfortunately it is also the place for meals or for others to leave things on.

Ideally a writer has a space of their own – a place where things can be left undisturbed – a study, a shed, an office, a desk in the corner.  Ideally there are times that are recognised as working-times, undisturbable, privileged.

For me it is a set of shelves, a table, a laptop, a set of storage files. It is evening times when others are enthralled by TV programmes. It is several afternoons. It is train rides to nearby towns – near enough to be a quick day out but far enough to for the journey to offer an hour’s writing time. It is half-day workshops.

Sometimes it feels like time snatched here and there, but there is always the determination that writing is what I do and that this occupation needs its own time and its own space.


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Me and my blogs: My blogs and I

This is about blogs – but it is also about transition, and writing for different purposes, and about a changing sense of self.

People often ask, politely in passing, ‘… and what do you do?’  Since leaving full-time paid employment I had always answered this question by referring back, describing what I used to be: ‘I used to work for the City Council’  or ‘I used to be in education and skills ….’  or ‘I used to manage a multi-partner, multi-million development project.’  I remember the day when someone asked me and I said, ‘I am a writer.’ It rather shocked me. That was the turning point after which I ceased to define myself solely as ‘ … used to be …’ and started to describe what I felt I had become.

When I started to really think of myself as a writer, what kind of writing did I think this entailed?

I saw myself writing ebooks: mostly fiction, with a small attempt at poetry. The aim was to get a sufficient number of ebooks up on my bookshelf in the Amazon store that when anyone went to look they would come away having bought more than one. This was contrary to the usual approach of writing a first novel, getting it published and selling well, before heading off to write a follow-up, and so on. To me, at that time, writing was more important than selling. If I was opening up a shop window on my writing then I at least wanted there to be a reasonable display of goods in that shop.

My website (www.thewordsthething.org.uk) was seen as a route to that window display. It was carefully designed around me being a writer. The various pages and categories related to writing about places, writing about art interests, writing about employment and so on. The aim was that I would write stuff for fun, put it on the website and whenever the site was visited that person would linger there for a while before being funnelled off through a link to my page of ebooks. Similarly Twitter, blogs and any other social-media activity would be there to interest and amuse – and direct readers to the ebook page directly (or, shunt them sideward onto the website – which would inexorably direct them on to the ebooks once more).

Soon, however, the content of the website took on a more and more significant part of what I regarded as my writing. I was a writer of ebooks, with four available (even if selling very spasmodically). Increasingly my interest included being a writer of (hopefully) informative and interesting articles that were lodged on the website.

As I used the website more and more for broader purposes its original structure started to creak a bit. The clue was when the ‘Miscellany’ section started to contain much more material than all the other sections. This has led to a recent substantial restructuring of the website to make it work for the writing rather than trying to squeeze the writing into an outmoded structure. It was a bit nerve-shredding (A bit of me still believes that if I click on the wrong thing I might just break the internet or something …) but has freed me up to think about the writing not the mechanics that support the writing.

I have written before about my views on social media, especially Twitter. During the developments of various writing-approaches I tested out different uses of Twitter. I used it as a research tool (to look at contemporary issues in thinking about cities). I also used it as a way of gently getting my website address noticed – by picking my top 25 website articles and tweeting one per day, from #25 to my top #1, using the hashtag #GeoffsTop25.  It was a bit of fun and brought several new contacts. Through reflection on my own use of Twitter I began to view tweets as another form of writing, with the need to take care with style and to edit well.

Twitter then had three purposes: To put out well-written, witty or helpful tweets in their own right; to make occasional reference to the http://www.thewordsthething.org.uk website; and to make rare reference to the availability of my ebooks.

So I can honestly describe myself as a writer of a number of varied (and hopefully increasing) ebooks; and a writer of rich and varied content on a website; and a writer of carefully-worded bits of Twitter content. So where do blogs fit into my writing?

My main website is built around a blog structure, so one of the first things I had to do was to get familiar with the basics of WordPress as a way of putting written stuff up there for others to read. This was nowhere near as difficult as I imagined. In the same way that the best advice I had when fretting about how one gets an ebook published for Kindle was “Geoff, just do it.”, so the best way to get to grips with WordPress was to get on with doing it (with a helpful ‘WordPress in 10 Minutes’ booklet as my constant guide). This has all added to the learning that I have had to do, and enjoyed doing. I write to learn as I learn to write.

Once familiar with the basics of WordPress it was easy to set up a blog (The one you are reading at the moment) that would be a place for me to jot my own ideas about writing. It started simply as a way of getting my own thoughts down, reflecting on them, and thinking about how I may want things to develop. It has become of interest to others. In a tiny way I can start to think of myself as a Blogger. So my sense of myself as ‘being a writer’ has expanded to cover books, poems, web articles, tweets and – now – blog posts.

Any other blogs? I had a character in one of my ebooks that I didn’t want to let free. I didn’t want to write a sequel to the book but the character wouldn’t get out of my head. A solution was to give that character a continued existence separate from the book. The character would write a blog! This allowed me to give that character several more experiences and to write them up as his accounts of things, until I felt that I had exhausted the character (and my interest in him) and the blog could end and just sit there until I decided what to do with it. Ultimately it was cut and pasted from blog-format into diary format and appears on the main website as a separate piece of writing under the heading ‘Thinking outside the box: Just another glorious day’.

So this brings me to now. I am far more definite in saying ‘I am a writer’; and that I write in different formats for different purposes. Blogging is one strand of that writing – as text in its own right not as some marketing tool sitting behind my ‘real’ writing. My intention is soon to have three or four different blogs on the go, each serving a different purpose and each being an outlet for a different style of writing.

Blogs are written by many people and take a range of forms. There are personal diary blogs, money-making blogs, political opinion blogs, shared interest blogs, academic blogs and many others. Some approach their blogs as journalism and thus focus on crispness, brevity and storyline. Others write blogs that are closer to fiction with a need to consider characterisation and drama. An analysis by a blog search engine indicated that the majority of bloggers (60%) did it to personally share their views, 18% blogged professionally, 13% blog as entrepreneurs, and 8% blog for their employers.

There is plenty of advice from successful bloggers keen to share their checklists of what makes a good blog;

  • Catchy headline
  • Well-structured to tell an engaging story
  • Written with a particular audience in mind
  • Edited and spellchecked as thoroughly as any other credible form of writing
  • Graphics and sidebars – but only where these enhance the text
  • All the advice you might expect about any writing.

There is contradictory advice about how frequently to post blog content, the appropriate length of posts, and so on.

Treating any such advice as a formula to write against will always bring some difficulties, and I think of the advice as a framework for thinking about my own preferred style. Certainly, it would be silly to ignore the advice of those who have been blogging successfully. At the same time I write for my own purposes, on my own topics, in my own styles. I feel comfortably trying to find a particular approach and voice that works for me.



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Writing and Art: Art and Writing

When drafting out the possible future directions of my own writings, there was an early link between my interest in writing and my interest in art. I wasn’t sure where this might lead me but it was a well-signposted opportunity – an interesting enough looking path to make me want to wander down it for a while. When I was setting up the structure of the website to carry most of my writings  (www.thewordsthething.org.uk)  I created a separate section titled ‘Art-based Writings’.

I had already used pictures and postcards as triggers to get writing. Some of the pictures were tear-outs from magazines but some were printed reproductions of paintings. Some of the postcards were cityscape views from places I had visited, but more were postcards gathered in gallery shops as I went to a variety of exhibitions. These triggered some of my short fiction pieces ‘Made in Birmingham: The Tales’. Some triggered poems later gathered into the collection ‘Made in Birmingham: The Poems’.

Birmingham has a range of art galleries. One of these, the Barber Art Gallery, forms part of the University of Birmingham. It has its own collection but also hosts visiting works of art and gives space to part of an annual West Midlands showcase of new art from graduates of local art courses. Alongside these the gallery runs an education programme that, with the appointment a Writer in Residence at the gallery, included a series of writing workshops using the gallery contents as stimuli. The culmination of several workshops was a performance evening where some workshop participants were invited to read selected pieces of their writings. Three of my writings were selected for inclusion. These can be read here: Barber Institute Writings

Even a cursory glance at my main website (the www.thewordsthething.org.uk one mentioned earlier) will show that one of my main interests is Cities. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery was awarded a fund to bring seventy pieces of contemporary art from around the world, all based on the theme of cities, to form the 2013 exhibition ‘Metropolis: reflections on the modern city’. This brought together my interest in contemporary art with my interest in cities – and opened up the potential for me to visit the exhibition several times (as some kind of ‘Writer in relation to…’) and produce a wide range of writings. Each piece of writing lists the works of art, from the Metropolis exhibition, that gave rise to it. In addition to several varied fictional writings there are some non-fiction articles on topics such as the Language of Metropolis, The Modern City and a speculation on the role of ‘being a writer in relation to’. The total output from writing in relation to the Metropolis exhibition amounts to more than 30,000 words: Enough for an ebook? These collected writings are on the main website at http://thewordsthething.org.uk/?p=244

Also in the spring of 2013 The Royal Academy, in London, had its galleries transformed by seven contemporary international architectural practices to create unique spaces. This formed the exhibition ‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’. This was a fascinating exhibition to visit in its own right and I had already primed myself to do some writing in relation to it. The organisation Ekphrasis (www.ekphrasis.org.uk) arranged for a number of established poets to produce work stimulated by the experience of the exhibition and to print these in a booklet. In addition others were invited to submit their own poems written in response to experiencing the ‘Sensing Spaces’ exhibition. One of mine (‘In Hidden Spaces’) was selected. This is on the Ekhrasis website as featured Poet: Geoff Bateson. http://www.ekphrasis.org.uk/#!featured-poets-1/c6x8

Since then I have visited a number of exhibitions – One on Photorealism at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; one at the city’s IKON Gallery called ‘Pieces of Evidence’; and several others. These have stimulated writings of different kinds which are at various stages of editing, and may or may not see the light of day.

All of the above has allowed me to think through the interconnections between my interests in art and my interests in writing – circling around between writing about art, writing based on art, and writing as art.

Writing based on art has been described above. Writing about art is, for me – up to now, not high-level academic writing. An example is the main character from my ebook ‘Another Glorious Day’ having a blog of his own and describing his attempts to study and produce art. Another example is the beginner’s piece wondering about the idea of progress in contemporary art.

No doubt these interconnecting strands of writing and art will continue to feed each other.

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Pulling in the learning

One interest of mine is the distinction between what might be called ‘pushed-in learning’ and ‘pulled-in learning’. The first of these is the usual one of learning by going to a set place, at a set time, and having the content-of-the-day pushed towards you. A lot of formal education/schooling follows this pattern as does much of traditional in-service training. The alternative is getting involved with some activity then realising that there are things you need to learn as you go along – and pulling this learning, as needed, from whatever sources seem most appropriate.

Like many aspiring writers, I have been on short courses or attended one-off workshops. These have been of variable usefulness. None were a waste of time but none gave me what I was looking for, when I was looking for it (or if it did, I had to sit through quite a bit of other stuff in order to get to where I wanted to be). ‘How-to’ books on writing have similarly been of some use in giving technical advice but no one book has been ‘The One’.  None changed my approach to writing to any great degree.

There have been debates about the value of longer, more intensive Creative Writing courses. On one hand there are those who argue that creativity cannot be taught (but maybe can be encouraged and developed). Others suggest that such courses, with set expectations about what counts as ‘good’ writing, tend to turn out writers in the same style. At the same time, a sustained exposure to ideas about writing, the opportunity (and expectation) to really get down to some disciplined writing, exposure to the views of others, and the time to study the mechanics of the industry etc – all can be useful in forming a writer’s style and future.

The majority of really-useful learning, for me, has been pulled in. When I got to the stage of having some texts that could form ebooks, I started to look for the person who could teach me how to get them up onto Amazon’s Kindle site. I had imagined sitting next to some expert who would take me through each intricacy, step by step. As it turned out, the best advice I got was ‘For goodness sake, Geoff, just have a go. Here is the website you need. Work it out from there’. The Kindle Direct Publishing site set out the process. If I got stuck, I went back over the process. Within a short time I had some ebooks up there and was confident enough in the process to be able to describe it to others.

It has been the same with most other technical things:

  • setting up and using WordPress blogs
  • using keywords, tags, and categories to set things out in a sensible way on my website
  • how Twitter works (and the things that it is less useful for)
  • different approaches to marketing or promotion (in ways that fit with my style)

I am no industry expert on any of these but I have pulled-in enough understanding to be able to do the things I want to do, in the ways I want to do them. On the way I have also learnt a great deal about things that turned out not to have immediate application but which sparked of tangential ideas.  I am used to having several puzzles in mind at the same time and it is surprising how often a search for solutions on one puzzle threw up things that were valuable in relation to some other one.

I will still go to the occasional seminar or conference. I will still read around a topic. I will still ask others for their views, I will still Google away around a theme. I will, however, tend to pull all this potential for learning together just when I most need it.


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Doing Poetry: No Sweat

My ebook  ‘Made in Birmingham: The Poems’ is a collection of approximately seventy poems. One was called ‘Doing Poetry: No Sweat’

I’m going to be a poet.

It’s an odd thing at my time of life

but a choice that is becoming

more popular, I’ve noticed.

I’ve bought my first garret

and cut down on food.

I now only need access

to a pub full of artists

and a distant woman

to impossibly love

and I’ll be off

doing poetry.

No sweat.

It isn’t autobiographical, just a poem. There is no garret; I don’t eat to excess but that is a health thing not a starving poet thing; and a distant woman to impossibly love is definitely off the agenda (unless you count Agent Lisbon from ‘The Mentalist’, or the very nice female detective from ‘Law and Order Special Victims Unit, or the woman detective from ‘Castle’, or Ziva from ‘NCIS’  …. Do I detect a trend here..??).

A bit of a push

In an earlier posting I talked about planning. Each year I have a set of loosely-sketched intentions. For the near future these include ‘Having a bit of a push on poetry’. This is a broad statement of intent, but I have several elements in mind that might add up to ‘a bit of a push’. I also have a specific image when I talk about ‘poetry’: Not poems that pour out of me, like it or not, but poetry to order, poetry on demand, poetry to a schedule.

Recent attempts at producing poetry to a theme include:

  • Poems written as part of workshops linked to art exhibitions at University of Birmingham’s Barber Institute (and the invitation to read some of the work as part of a public event)
  • Poems written in response to contemporary art works in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s ‘Metropolis’ exhibition
  • Poems written in response to the Royal Academy’s ‘Sensing Spaces’ exhibition

Developing a poetic career

A few months ago I attended an excellent workshop run by the editor/director of Nine Arches Press which is a UK small press that specialises in publishing poetry. The theme of the workshop was to try to understand what might be meant by the ‘career’ of a poet. It was clear that (except for a very small number of people) this rarely meant creating a full-time high-income role from writing poetry.

The figures speak for themselves:

95% of poetry sold recently was written by dead poets. Of the small amount by living poets 90% was via one major publisher and the bulk of that was the work of a few outstanding, award-winning poets. The remainder – a very tiny proportion of the total amount of poetry published for sale – was published via a few small/medium sized publishers, each publication maybe selling only tens of copies. On that basis, if the poet earns royalties of around 10% then they need to move to a garret and cut down on food ….

To reach this point of having a collection published by a small press, selling in fairly small numbers, and bringing in very little reliable income, a poet may follow a ‘career’ – ie a ‘development trajectory’, that could include:

  • Regularly writing poems; regularly reading poems by contemporary established poets
  • Submitting to online poetry magazines (and being accepted)
  • Entering poetry competitions (and being successful)
  • Taking part in events, readings, open-mic sessions
  • Operating a poetry/writing blog of ones own
  • Having sufficient poems that have been tested by public airing, and putting these into a small pamphlet for publication

So, to have ‘A bit of a push on poetry’  means that I will have a concerted attempt at some of these steps – moving the ‘I am a poet’ part of myself across a development arc so that I might feel some sense of progress.

The aim is to find time, space, energy, motivation, inclination, stimulation etc to write 50-70 poems  and to test some of these publicly in open reading events or in online publications. With a bit of extra polishing maybe 15-20 of these might be worked up to a stage where they could be considered ‘good enough’ (by me; by others; by an editor of a small poetry press). This, at a stretch, might just lead to a pamphlet of assorted poetry. That might be as far as it gets. Beyond that we get into the realm of having sufficient ability and confidence, and a robust enough track record, to put together a small collection of poems on a theme.

Poets: Undomesticated, almost feral, things?

Many years ago a friend wrote a dissertation taking the song title ‘An engineer can never have a baby’ as its theme. The song undermined the outdated idea that women have babies, engineers are never women – so an engineer will never have a baby. Recently this retranslated in my head to ‘Can a poet have a family?’

The poet in ‘Doing Poetry: No Sweat’ was a caricature of a single person, living alone, spending nights in bars and writing poetry from within that ambience. If a poet has a home to maintain, relatives to interact with, grandchildren to play with, monthly finances to regularise – in short, if a poet is domesticated – then is there still enough time, space and ambience for poetry?

Having moved house; and then had builders knocking down walls and filling the air with dust and radio music, I looked to local coffee shops as the place to do writing. That worked if I avoided the times when the places got taken over by lunchtime schoolchildren or mid-morning mums or afternoon shoppers. Especially around the buzzing busyness of Christmas finding quiet corners in which to think and write became more and more difficult. This problem itself prompted a poem:

The table I sit at holds firm

The table I sit at holds firm

as people swirl and twirl;

twisting, turning through spaces

in which I’ve quietly settled.

My coffee cools slowly in freeze-frame hold.

Theirs get gulped, drained, in fast-forward blur;

their chitterchatter all gibblegabble.

My silence of monastic proportion

as I seek out just the right word.

Their minds whirring, churning,

as crowds carry them off:

The table I sit at holds firm.

Nevertheless, I am off to be a poet

So I am off, not to find a garret but to find a table firm enough to write at. I have scoured around for opportunities for local readings and events to go in my diary. I have booked into a couple of national things. I have regular blogs that I follow. I have put out of my mind all thoughts of female detectives with dark hair. The commitment to having a bit of a push on poetry, and the motivation to do something about it, is there – we will just have to see how it works out.

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Where is it all getting to: Next Steps

This is the site where I reflect on my own approach to writing. In addition to a number of ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle site the bulk of my writing is held on a website at www.thewordsthething.org.uk . Some early posts on that website outlined the features of a flourishing organisation, and ways that agencies may need to think differently if they are to make progress. These arose from thinking about cities. They can equally be used as a framework for reflecting on any set of activities – and here are being used to assess where my own work (captured on the www.thewordsthething.org.uk website) might be going.

This has highlighted some of the things that I will need to emphasise more over the next three years. These include:

  • Being able to clearly articulate why I wish to occupy myself in this way … the purposes behind what is being done … with sufficient ‘presence’/ confidence/ self-determination whilst still being tentative/ modest.
  • Responding to current concerns and interests without slipping into populist reactionism … Still being at least a little bit different in what is being undertaken … having more challenge to the aspirations, pushing myself in what I am comfortable doing.
  • Reflecting on what is being done, without endless internal activity that is of little value to anyone else
  • Being more active in engaging with others (authentically rather than simply clocking up more and more links/ likes/ followings) … countering it being a solitary undertaking … looking for more things that might require collaboration with others.
  • Actively promoting content/writing, and asserting myself as author, without unnecessarily heavy self-promotion
  • Maintaining an approach that is based on puzzling, wondering, being curious for its own sake … as well as aiming to produce stuff that could be of value/use to others.
  • Covering costs without being a money-driven set of activities … with most things being freely available to anyone … things done voluntarily.

That’s it: I have my list of commitments already signed-up to, and this sense of next-step directions to follow. Time to get on with it all.


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A spot of gardening: Every writer should do it from time to time

There are two parts of the year when I think about gardening. Let’s be clear from the start: I am no gardener. I have a smallish garden at the back of the house and my criteria are that any plants should come up every year with no real help from me; they should be low-maintenance throughout the summer; they should not spread out to invade every other bit of space around them; they should preferably not all die off completely in the winter leaving the soil looking like a muddy trench; there should be a range of bright and cheery colours that show up at different stages throughout the year; I expect them to just get on with life throughout baking sun or torrential downpours. Beyond that I don’t need to know their names (They never ask mine). Nor do I want to be worrying about specialised diseases, or how they are going to propagate themselves.

I ‘garden’ twice a year:  in February/March and in late September/October. This involves general tidying up; clearing out dead stuff; splitting and separating to make effective use of what is there; and light digging so that the hardware of the soil can give best chance to the software of the plants. That is it really (except for occasional pulling off dead flowers and the occasional watering) and it is enough to give me hours of pleasure just sitting and looking at the variety of greenery and flower-heads throughout the year.

When I ran a major project we applied the same analogy to the office. A couple of times a year I would suggest that we did a bit of ‘gardening’: generally tidying away all the bits and pieces that had been left lying around for some time, clearing out old unwanted paperwork, throwing away all the pens that no longer worked, making sure the systems all worked, updating things where necessary, renewing subscriptions, refreshing policies, archiving things properly, and so on.

As a writer I have carried the same logic across to what I do now. It is September, so time for a spot of ‘gardening’. This is going to take a couple of days but I feel that it will set me up for the winter. The list includes:

  • Checking that virus protection is up-to-date
  • Optimising the computer by removing all ’broken’ bits of software
  • Checking everything I need is backed-up and having a schedule for regular backing-up of content
  • Permanently deleting all emails that are no longer needed
  • Weeding out the various work-in-progress versions of files – keeping just the final version
  • Going through the numerous memory sticks and rationalising the content
  • Looking to see if any bits of the website need rearranging – close down some content and open up new links between things that have been randomly put up there
  • Seeing what can be done to further reduce Spam comments
  • Looking at the promises I might have made and checking that I have done all I said
  • Going back and reminding myself of why I think I am doing it all; back to check against driving principles; back to core purpose and motivations
  • Unsubscribing from no-longer-needed newsletters; cutting down on input
  • Scanning my list of people I follow on Twitter and pruning out any that don’t fit with what I want to be doing over the next year or two
  • Thinking about the costs of maintaining what I do, and any new activities I might want to do, and where any money might come from
  • Refreshing the Framework I work within and pushing it outwards to see what new bits of interest I might come across

I do this kind of thing around this time of year and I do it all again in the early spring. It is time away from actual writing but it gives me some satisfaction and a bit of reassurance that I am not going to be spending time constantly going back over trying to decide which bit of editing is the latest version, scanning back through endless emails to find the one I need, or having a computer that gets slower and slower under all the unnecessary stuff on it.

So time to get on with it. Where’s that spade and those secateurs?


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