The first rule of New Year resolutions is, you do not talk about New Year resolutions. Seriously, as soon as you tell someone your reinvigorated plans for the year ahead, you're doomed to fail before January is even out. Want to go to the gym every day? Eat less? Write more? Don't tell anyone. Just do it. Or give it a good go, that way if you slip, it's no biggie and you can always get back on track with a second bite at the cherry.
When it comes to writing, a wide range of energising thoughts and intentions charge into the brain at around midnight on New Year's Day. I'M GOING TO WRITE EVERY DAY. I'M GOING TO FINISH THAT NEW SPEC. SHIT, I'M GOING TO START THAT NEW SPEC. I'M GOING TO DO IT THIS YEAR, WHATEVER 'IT' IS. YEAH! WOO! WHERE'S THE CHAMPAGNE?!
Two weeks later, and you've done nada. All that energy and motivation has slipped into the usual routine of procrastination, doubt or just 'don't have enough time'. This is why I refuse to make New Year resolutions. Instead, I write a list of things I want to do or achieve over the course of the year (that's not reliant on a sudden new regime in January that I'm going to struggle to maintain into February, never mind the rest of the year).
The New Year list may be wildly ambitious or unlikely at times but usually they're reasonable goals, or stuff that I really should be aiming for. This was last year's list:
* Make a short film
* Get EastEnders, or a notable TV commission
* Write a kids' book
* Write a new feature spec
I've achieved two from the above: EastEnders and the kids' book. When I scribbled the list, I had no idea HOW I was going to get EastEnders (having been turned down before) but I included it anyway (it was my agent who set up the 2nd attempt, and that happened in March/April last year). For the kids' book, the writing was more than halved thanks to the stalwart efforts of Sam Morrison, who led the way with the 1st draft, so that was an easier achievement than if I had tried to write it myself.
It turned out to be a busy year and I didn't get round to making the short or writing a new feature spec but I did do some pre-planning for the short, and hope to be making it this spring, with me as writer-director. It's an exciting prospect that frightens the bejesus out of me but I've been saying it out loud to as many people as possible to force myself to do it, and now I've blogged about it so there's no turning back. More on this as it happens.
So, this year's list? First rule of New Year resolutions, kid.
The Screenwriters' Festival has a new date and location this year, moving from the summer to the autumn, and leaving Cheltenham Studios behind for Cheltenham Ladies College. Cue Leslie Phillips: 'Hehllooo. I say. Ding dong'. For full details of what's happening and where, check out the website, especially for early bird discounts and the like. Also, for a rundown on the launch they held t'other night at Channel 4, then mosey over to Darth Arnopp's gaff and feel the force of his review.