Friday, 24 January 2014

Slowing down, speeding up, changing hats

I’ve noticed that as I get older some things take a little longer than they used to. Getting up from a kneeling position, threading a needle or recalling someone’s name all demand a bit more time and effort these days.

On the other hand, some tasks have become quicker and easier. For example, now my husband and I no longer need to wear smart clothes for work I’ve cut my ironing time from hours to minutes!

But one change that took me completely by surprise when I noticed it, is how much my reading speed has slowed down. When I had a lot less time for reading, I easily managed 2–3 full-length novels per month. But when I looked back at the books I’d read during 2013 I realised that each one took me 6-8 weeks to finish. Why? After so many years of practice I should be really good at reading now. It’s still one of my favourite occupations and something I do every day.

The only explanation I can think of is that I'm forgetting to change hats (another symptom of the passing years!) If I’m reading an interesting, well-written book I tend to have my writer’s hat on. As I read, I’m also analysing why I like this book and what tricks the author is using to keep me turning the pages. When I come across a particularly good sentence or paragraph I’ll read it several times in the hope of learning how to improve my own writing.

A book I don’t like so much takes even longer to get through, because I read it with my editor’s hat on. It takes me ages to go through it with my imaginary pencil; correcting awkward phrases, crossing out unnecessary words, and putting question marks where something just doesn’t seem to make sense!        

I need to find my reader’s hat again, and to remind myself to keep it on I’ve accepted the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge. I’ve pledged to read 12 books - one a month – but I’m hoping that if I can speed up I might manage a few more. 

I got off to a good start by finishing Life After Lunch by Sarah Harrison , but now I’m struggling. My second book is The Summer Boy by Henry Mitchell. I’ve only read the first few pages but they’re so skillfully written that I want to linger over every word ….

Have you set yourself any reading challenges? How are you doing?

Monday, 6 January 2014

A Resolution too soon

2014 is going to be the year in which I am completely organised.

This was my one and only New Year Resolution. And I thought I was getting off to a brilliant start.

Before I left for my Christmas break I had already:
  • reviewed all the writing I’d done in 2013
  • made sure all my records were up to date
  • backed up everything on my computer
  • transferred important information into my 2014 diary

After a lovely, relaxing few days with the family I returned home and completed the preparations:
  • I wrote a new goal list
  • I wrote a new to do list
  • I worked out a detailed timetable for the whole of January
  • I decided on some deadlines later in the year to keep me on track

On New Year’s Eve, I was confidently looking forward to starting my new, efficient writing regime first thing on January 1. And I might have succeeded if I hadn’t been suddenly struck down by some unidentified but persistent bug that left me feeling ill and befuddled for the rest of the week.

So, today’s resolution is to catch up with the 5 wasted days of 2014!

Have you made any resolutions? Are you managing to keep them?

P.S. If your resolution is to make more money from your writing – or other marketable skills – you might want to take a look at this new website