This is the first January I've had to myself since I was a baby. Every other year, I've been in school, in college, or out teaching...in a school. For the first year in my life, I actually have some free time in the month to really make a difference in what I do and how I do it. This is the first month of the year, and I think it's worth highlighting what's happened so far.
By and large, a lot of what I've been doing has ended up on ParagraVerse. By the end of the month, the site will have seen:
- 4 new poems
- 4 diary entries from Andrew McCourt
- 5 older poems, that are already on YouTube in video form
- 5 flash stories, covering Romance/Slice-of-Life, Science Fiction, and Magical Realism
At the time of writing this post, it's seen an increase of over 50% in the number of subscribers on the site. It's also seen a few return-readers. Quite often, subscribers will ignore new posts coming in, because they don't have the time to read them. (That's speaking generally, not just about ParagraVerse.) However, there are people who regularly come back to the site, read what's gone up, and sometimes comment on posts - especially the ones they really like.
The way things have turned out, I've written two flash stories that I'd like to use as a source of inspiration for books. As it happens, Andrew McCourt is actually one of the protagonists in a series of books I'm working on at the moment, too, which are set after the series of diary entries. You can probably tell right away from reading them, they're not like my Modern Irish Myth stories or books. He's just a regular guy with a few problems and a lot of sarcasm, and he's finishing school with some difficulty.
Of course, I've also released a book. This actually followed a pattern I'd set for myself last January. Last year, I wrote Planning Before Writing after my work had been done for Teaching Placement. This year, I didn't have to worry about going out to a school or doing work in the evenings, so I was able to work on 25 Ways to Beat Writer's Block during the day, a lot. I actually wrote a majority of what was left to do during my niece's naps, with the baby monitor beside my laptop.
Aside from these blog posts, I was also publishing an article-a-week on my personal website. I decided, what with it being the start of a new year, I'd focus on Maintaining Motivation. That was as much for me as it was for other people. There'll still be one more article to go up on that topic after this month, but I think the process has been good for me. I enjoy writing the articles, and they get me thinking properly about how much I know about writing.
For me, though, the biggest thing has been in setting up a schedule for myself and sticking to it. I've tried this before. I've tried to create a blogging schedule, and I always fall behind on it within the first couple of weeks. This month, I've managed to put out a lot of content. I've been scheduling posts and poems and stories in advance, which has freed up a lot of time. I can write a poem and a story in one night, and that's two days sorted for the week ahead.
Actually getting to do all of this in the first month of the year has made a massive difference to me. I've still managed to work a lot in the bookshop. I've gotten to see friends, go to most of the new movies released in the month, and sit back and enjoy new games, new music and new books. If, for the time being, life stays like this, I think I could be very happy.