At the back end of last week, an email arrived from our Tutor with some advice as we head into a new phase of the MA in Creative Writing I’m doing with the Open University. It had a link to a writer’s planner to “encourage you to do some New Year reflecting on your writing!”

As our Tutor wisely observed: “Reflecting on our writing is an essential habit for writers and the link below might help you direct your reflection as you begin a new writing year. It is a writing planner which encourages you to detail specific writing goals for the year but also to look back at your writing last year.”

The trouble with planning, especially if you’re a bit neurospicy, is that it can get in the way of actually doing. I’ve been guilty of not writing something when an idea hit me just because it didn’t fit with whatever I was working on at the time, then either forgetting about it completely or finding that the inspiration had gone by the time I circled back to the discarded though. Sometimes, spontaneity is part of the creative process; this is the sixth post since my OU course enabled Giving Myself Permission to reboot this blog. I set a goal in the first post to write at least one post a week which is, of course, planning, of a sort.

What I don’t have is a list of topics I intend to cover over the next 12 months. This might yet prove unwise – after all, if I keep rattling on about the same stuff, it will be as dull to write as it would be to read – but gives me freedom to react to situations as they arise, or to take a ‘deep dive’ into an issue of personal importance, or a SpIn. As an example, I’m doing some research into an issue affecting our family which has potentially wide-ranging impacts with a view to blogging about it in a way that might help others.

I do have one major writing (and reading) goal for the first ten months of the year: to get through the MA in Creative Writing. Here is where I part ways with Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome; I do have a plan. Writing a memoir which reflects on the discovery, at the age of 41, that I have an Autistic Spectrum Condition is underpinning my journey through the course. I have submitted chapters, or parts of chapters, for each of the assessments to date. I have a list of chapter names and the timescales and themes each chapter will cover. This means I can work on the project as and when the opportunity arises. I’m not limited to working towards each deadline; I can submit part of a chapter for peer review by the rest of our Tutor Group, then work on an entirely different section while I wait for their feedback.

This blog, the memoir and all the work that goes into both all tie into the other main writing goal I have, which is just to make sure I write regularly. As I discussed in Giving Myself Permission, writing is something I need to do. So, I guess my main goal for 2024 is to get on with it!