Ardella and her friend Perrier Jouet

I have started this piece as I mean to continue, clutching a glass of Perrier Jouet (N.B. my syntax may deteriorate by point five) as I review 2015 and make my resolutions for 2016. My relationship to writing projects mirrors my New Year’s relationship with alcohol: it starts full of bubbly enthusiasm for high quality imaginative thought – the champagne, slowly savoured in a civilised manner; it moves on to a more pragmatic ‘Can I write it? Will it sell?’ approach corresponding to ‘Prosecco or cava will be fine’; after midnight, grim determination sets in ‘Edit, cut, rewrite chapter one and make it kick arse!’ which translates as ‘Lidl’s Babycham? Bring it on!’; New Year’s Day brings regrets, recriminations and rethinks – ‘If only I’d worked more on character motivation before I started writing. My style is flabby. I need to change narrative viewpoint,’ – this is the ‘black coffee, take Alka-Seltzer, do Pilates’ moment.
So, while I am in the bubby optimist mode, here are five tips for creativity in the coming 365 days:

  1. Consign your fabulous thoughts to a notebook and keep them. Make sure they are legible and locatable; a clearly marked file on your laptop might work better than half-a-dozen different notebooks that you can’t find when you need them, even if they are the pretty Paperchase ones you got for Christmas.
  2. Go to writing classes where you get proper tuition and robust feedback not ‘Mmn, some lovely images. Thank you for sharing.’ Chalk the Sun offers some excellent workshops!
  3. Try to write or edit your work for a set period at least five days a week. Keep your momentum.
  4. Set a goal and stick to it. A writing weekend at home or a week’s retreat abroad can act as an incentive, focus or reward; you will also get a lot written.
  5. Don’t talk yourself out of finishing a project by telling yourself it’s no good; have faith and commit to your concept. And, to add to your creative headache, remember this applies just as much to marketing your finished work, finding an agent, submitting to publishers. Don’t give up! Happy New Year!

Ardella Jones
Kick-start your creativity at a Chalk the Sun monthly Saturday workshop – next one 9 January. Keep going with our Novelists’ Survival Group – next session 11 January. Give yourself a boost with our one-off specials with visiting writers like novelist Sheena Joghin on 1 and 6 February. Make creative space for yourself on our 7-day retreats in mountainous Southern Spain 4 – 11 June and on Puglia’s Adriatic coast 18 – 25 September. Beat the block with a one-to-one tutorial.