January newsletter: Start the year the way you mean to continue – writing
Resolutions just make us all feel bad. Let’s rather fix our writing intentions for the year. Intentions are slightly different. They’re not as strict.
Resolutions are the bullies on the playground. Intentions aren’t bossy – they’re our guides. We do need them, though, if this is to be a writing year.
That’s the thing about writing: it’s too easy for our practice, and our creativity, to slip beneath the mountain of busy-work we fill our lives with. A creative existence is essential – if only for our mental and emotional health.
We need to squeeze that other dimension into our lives if we are to achieve true happiness. We need time to day-dream, a chance to exercise our creative muscles.
Many people attend our creative writing courses, not because they necessarily want to write the next Man Booker winner. They simply want to find their lost ability to imagine.
At the end of this newsletter, I’ll give you some tips on starting the year well, and continuing that way. And in a minute, I’ll give you a message from each of us, and our associates, about what we’re looking forward to in 2022. But let me just remind you of what we have coming up in the near future, and later in the year.
- Our brand-new Writers’ Circle, started at your request. Now you can experience the companionship of a writing community and have access to an exclusive library of writing resources. At a monthly Zoom meeting Richard and I will hear your writing and offer feedback, answer your writing questions – and you’ll have the chance to share your problems and triumphs with like-minded writers.
- Online Creative Writing Course, in which you’ll learn all the skills you need to write a book, fiction or non-fiction. Start when you like. Work on it weekly or monthly, it’s your choice.
- Exclusive real-time Creative Writing Course, every Monday and Thursday evening from 31 January for five weeks. We only take six people, so early booking essential.
- Our Hero’s Journey® Course,starting 27 January, licensed and approved by the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which provides direction and inspiration, no matter what form your creativity takes – novel, memoir, short story or screenplay.
And then there are our writing breaks – real and in-person. We’ve taken note of how badly you want to get away, and we’re offering more than ever:
- First up is our Writing Weekend in Stow-on-the-Wold from 4 to 6 March 2022. Sharpen your story skills writing for two blissful days in the Cotswolds with a group of like-minded writers.
- Memoir writing weekend workshop at the Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale, South Africa, at which the two Joannes, me (Jo-Anne Richards) and Joanne Hichens, will get you started on your own story.
- Brand-new Writing Safari, run in association with best-selling international author, Tony Park, at Victoria Falls and Nantwich Lodge in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, from 9 to 16 June. Tony and I will coach and offer one-on-one advice.
- Our now famous Venice Writing Retreat, from 5 to 20 September (so rudely interrupted by Covid). Spend either one or two weeks writing and exploring Venice, with daily one-on-one time with Richard Beynon and me.
We can’t wait to start working with you
What am I looking forward to, this year? Well, obviously, a return to Venice, and our adventures in the Karoo and Zimbabwe. But I’m also looking forward to the Creative Writing Course, and watching people’s eyes open to the great possibilities writing provides them.
I love teaching, because it teaches me so much. Every course I run, I learn more about myself and my own writing. I’m also looking forward to making my writing part of my routine for 2022. – Jo-Anne
I love New Years – and the possibilities they promise. For writers, of course, that means doing more of what they’ve been doing – but with more flair, more finesse, more drama.
Helping you achieve your aims is one of my resolutions (I’m hot on resolution) – and one that I’ll take extremely seriously. So, hold on to your horses – 2022 will without any doubt be a year to remember. – Richard
For 2022, I intend to do a few more masterclasses for AAW, hopefully in Venice as well. It’s great fun talking about all the pitfalls that you have deal with as a writer, and to warn others of what lies ahead.
Now the holiday season is over, and January is upon us, the man with the claw hammer will be waiting for us, ready to hit us straight into the usual post-holiday depression. But the quicker you get back into writing, the sooner you’ll beat him off.
If you took my advice at the end of the year, and stopped your writing at a point you were feeling confident, and that you were enjoying, the transition back to the daily grind should go relatively easily. If you didn’t, just take the plunge. It’s like a swim in cold water. The first plunge is the worst. Once you’re in, it’ll be a pleasure. – Fred de Vries
I always think of writing as a process parallel to life, a way to make sense of the world through the magic of story. Like real life, writing has rhythms and rituals, seasons of famine and plenty. New Year brings the natural energy that comes with one cycle ending, and another beginning. It offers the chance to begin anew, and dreams are given a fresh impetus, especially our writing dreams. We hope to begin or complete books or screenplays, memoirs or plays. These long cherished dreams sustain our creativity, with promises of stories yet untold. This is the year to write these stories, to bring them to light and fruition, to share them with readers and our community of writers.
Let the writing begin! – Michele Rowe
I am truly looking forward to 2022. This time of year is celebratory as well as chaotic – with Christmas and kids coming home for their holidays. Although I never put writing aside as it is a way of keeping in touch with myself, and I try to write every day, even just a paragraph as a diary entry, I look forward to committing to my new book on 1 January. How is that for a New Year’s resolution!
And I can’t wait to get to Barrydale in March for our memoir workshop. I hope it will be, in many ways, transformative. I’ll also be running a Short Story workshop for All About Writing later on in the year. After having edited ten anthologies, I look forward to sharing what I have learned over the years to help you complete a short story during the course. The year promises to be full and fulfilling! – Joanne Hichens
How to get the writing started
- Make your intentions manageable. Then, when you exceed your expectations, you’ll feel really good about yourself. Writing is largely about discipline and if you can entrench that discipline in your life, it will start to become second nature.
- What you don’t want to do is make a resolution like: Write War and Peace for the modern times. Or even, write that book you’ve been meaning to. It’s too large and threatening.
- If you’re feeling stuck, don’t ignore your writing. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to start again. Set yourself the task of writing three great sentences. Even one good sentence is better than none at all, and once you’ve written three, you may find that it starts to flow. If you write four good sentences, you’ll feel great about yourself.
- Set your writing times for the week. Don’t wait for inspiration. You’ll be ninety-four and the inspiration will finally strike … but you won’t remember what it was for.
- Ring-fence your writing time. Don’t allow anything to intrude on it. Don’t ever allow yourself to think: oh hell, I didn’t finish doing my tax. I’ll use …
- And, here’s my secret: keep staring at the empty screen. Don’t allow yourself to rise, except perhaps to make a cup of tea. But only one.
We’re here to help you – to provide inspiration, skills and support. Don’t be shy about asking for help. The greatest writers in the world sometimes needed hand-holding.
That’s why All About Writing exists: to make you the best writer you can be.