It’s back to school week here in the UK. The Great British Bake Off is back (although on the wrong channel, but let’s not go there), the air is getting chillier and you can feel the leaves preparing to fall. I’ve spent a fortune on new shoes for my kids’ ever-expanding feet. And there’s a general atmosphere of change.
I’ve had a fantastic summer, but I never, ever regret the coming of autumn and that feeling of ‘new term’. Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but when I was at school I used to love the anticipation of a fresh beginning, different teachers, classes, friendships … as well as reuniting with old friends after some time apart. It’s just fun, and full of possibility.
Or maybe it’s much simpler than that – maybe it’s just to do with my stationery obsession. Because yes, I have been to WH Smith, and Paperchase, and bought new pens for myself as well as my children. There’s nothing like a pure, fresh new notebook to get the blood of a stationery addict pumping. Even if you’re not at school, September is often the time of signing up to a new class, learning a new skill, turning a fresh page in that smooth, clean notebook. It’s a much better time for resolutions than January, in my opinion.
It’s not just fresh starts, though – often the overwhelming feeling I get in September is one of slight relief to be back in a routine, with life seeming a bit less random and scattered than it does during the holidays. It’s time to get organised, make plans and really spend some time working on my writing goals. I had very ambitious plans of getting projects finished over the summer – and there’s my overreaching optimism again! I didn’t finish them. But, thanks to a bit of focus and planning, I did at least make some progress, where in past years I’ve watched similar projects slowly gather dust and induce huge amounts of guilt and self-flagellation. So while I may not have made the huge leaps forward that I’d hoped for, at least I don’t feel as if I’ve completely lost touch with my ideas over the long break.
And it’s a reminder to be realistic about these plans and goals. I simply wasn’t going to have time or headspace to write two thousand words a day, or even a week … Note to self: aim for a target you might actually hit. Schedule a few down days, or even weeks. And don’t give up!
Now the routine’s kicking in, I’m feeling that new term excitement about what I’m going to get written this autumn. There are new ideas swirling in a pool of possibility, and old ones that need dusting off and polishing up. All I need to do to get started is PICK ONE. And get down to it. Simple, right? I’m not going to dither over which one, I’m hoping that instinct will tell me which one matters most to me at this moment. And then it’s down to prioritising and making time to write. I’m creating a three-month writing course with a really thorough timetable and planning element (you can get more information, and updates on when this course will be available, here) – because without some structure and routine, it’s all too easy to slip off the tracks. In the meantime, though, I thought it would be fun to make a daily writing planner to give you a gentle butt-kick as you settle into September. You can download it below.
Because I am naturally a fairly sweary person, the planner has some swears in it. But I have kids, too, and I totally get not wanting them to see that kind of thing lying around. So there are two choices available – ‘Mary Poppins’ is the (U) version, which can be left on the kitchen table with no blushes necessary, and ‘Bridesmaids’ is the (18) version that might need to be kept in a drawer …