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What works for you

As Margaret James makes her writing resolutions for the year ahead, she shares inspiring nuggets from authors about the importance of finding your own way of working

As 2018 opens its doors of opportunity for us all, it’s time to make a few writing resolutions. My own writing resolution for 2018 is to be realistic in my ambitions. This doesn’t mean I can’t try something different, or that I’m not allowed to work that little bit harder in order to achieve my own personal best. But I’ve never been a fan of setting myself (or anyone else) impossible goals. I feel doing that is also setting up myself (and them) for failure in an industry in which failing is often seen as being inevitable, at least now and again. As a regular contributor to this magazine, over the years it’s been my pleasure and privilege to talk to hundreds of published novelists about their writing lives. I’m now going to round up some of their best advice for us all to bear in mind. Tom Bale reminds us that for writers losing heart occasionally is all part of the process. So, whenever we feel as if we’re wasting our time, we need to be kind to ourselves and to remember the mood will almost certainly pass. David Nicholls is strict about keeping his home and work lives separate and sticking to a nine to five routine. So, if you’re finding it hard to juggle the writing and other aspects of your life, maybe try setting aside specific times for writing, rather than letting writing be something you do after you’ve done everything else? My own experience of life suggests there’s never a time after I’ve done everything else! Also, on some of those difficult days mentioned by Tom Bale, the prospect of mucking out the cat’s litter tray can seem much more attractive than sitting in front of a blank screen willing the words to flow. So that’s often the time to brace up and be strict with ourselves: that novel isn’t going to materialise as if by magic.

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About Writing Magazine

In this month's issue, we show you ten ways to improve your writing right now, and look at how to impress an editor and get your feature articles accepted. This month's star interview is crime bestseller and Rizzoli and Isles creator Tess Gerritsen, who opens her casebook to discuss murder, medicine and false memory. When you've polished your work and got it ready to submit, check out the Writers' News pages – packed with opportunities to get into print and competitions to enter, with £54,762 in writing prizes to be won.

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