Christmas breaking (Mistake #87)

We all need a holiday.

I am lazy, so probably need one less than you need one, but after a year when I’ve revised one of my books, ran a major award, was heavily involved in two others, kept up a monthly column in a vegetarian lifestyle magazine, wrote regular features on my specialisms of food allergy, food intolerance and coeliac disease for a clutch of websites, dealt with all my many terrific Writers Bureau students, and tried to maintain several blogs (with minimal success, as regular readers will know …) – I do feel I need to give my fingers some respite from the QWERTY.

But whereas my fingers will be relieved of touch-typing duties for a few weeks, I think it would be a mistake to allow my brain to go on vacation too.

I don’t know about you, but these upcoming weeks are a time of year when I often find myself reflecting about what I’ve done well and not so well over the previous eleven and a half months, and wondering about what I might get up to in the next twelve. I’m not that great a person for new year’s resolutions, but I think it’s a good time to let your thoughts wander as you’re watching mindless TV repeats, or stuffing down fudge after fudge from the Quality Street box.

I plan to have a pen and notebook beside me when I can. I won’t put pressure on myself to fill its pages, but I will keep it as a record of what goes through my head during this down-period, because I expect – when wearing my reflective hat as I tend to do at the tail end of a year, and feeling a bit nostalgic, a bit mulled winey, and consequently a bit invigorated – to come up with some good ideas – be it for books, articles or other projects, or just solutions to the everyday working problems we all have when we try to make a living through words. And I don’t want them to escape.

We all know ideas can be ephemeral, and can hit us at surprise times – in the bath, drifting off to sleep – so we need to catch them when our subconscious throws us these gifts. If my last blog on generating ideas didn’t work for you, perhaps this will. With any luck, do it right, and you’ll have enough to see you through the whole year. I’m not kidding.

So here’s my advice, which you can take on board or throw out with yesterday’s sprouts as you please. Give everything but that subconscious – which you can’t switch off anyway – a real break. Your RSI will improve. Your back will be grateful. Don’t just slouch in your favourite armchair in front of the fire. Go for a run. Get out. See people you’ve not seen all year. Eat a bit more than you normally would, but don’t make yourself ill with it. Get excited about 2015, but don’t start working on 2015 work. Make it a time for family, loved ones – and your friendly notebook. LOTS of time with that friendly notebook …

See you on the other side!

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