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The Twelve Days of Christmas - Writers' Block Style!

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to start writing. So why not try these simple steps steps to get you on the write path - there's one for each of the twelve days of Christmas?

Either listen to the BBC radio episode here: Twelve Days of Christmas - Writers' Block Style...or read them here:

1. Jot down in one paragraph why you want to write and pin it up on a noticeboard above your desk, in the kitchen, wherever it's visible. It'll act as a reminder whenever you see it and hopefully motivate you throughout the year.

2. Set yourself three achievable goals in your writing for the coming year - be that to complete a course, enter a short story competition or write a set amount of words. Be realistic though, small practical steps will get you to your destination quicker than unrealistic leaps of faith.

3. Set some time aside for your writing in a place you won't be disturbed. Make sure your family know not to interrupt you, unless it's to bring you a cup of tea.

4. Save one of those gift boxes your presents came in and put a label on it with the title "Ideas". Leave a pad next to it, and any time you have an idea write it on the pad, tear it off and pop it in the box for later.

5. Buy yourself a small writers notebook to carry around with you. Then jot something down in it every day of the holidays. For example, one day you could make a note of an interesting story you were told. The next you could describe someone you saw whilst out shopping in the January sales. And so on. It'll help to train you to observe the world around you through writer's eyes and ears.

6. Start reading a book on How To Write or Creative Writing. Hopefully you'll have received one for Christmas. Failing that, get one out of the library.

7. Re-read a chapter from one of your favourite novels or poetry books and write down what makes it so appealing to you. By understanding what works for others you'll understand what to do in your own writing.

8. Find out where your nearest Writers' Circle is and phone them up for more information and a chat. While you're on the phone, ask about the next meeting, and write it down in your diary there and then. If you're worried about turning up alone, take a friend or ask the person you're talking to to look after you on the night. They usually do anyway.

9. Sign up for a writing course or at least send off for a brochure. Everyone needs tuition from experts when learning something new. Writing is no different.

10. Start writing. It doesn't have to be that novel or autobiography you ultimately want to pen. In fact it's better at this stage to keep things simple until you know a bit more about your craft. Why not start by writing a page describing a room in your house or flat. Or write a description of Santa Claus or jot down how you felt as a child on Christmas Eve. Don't worry if it's any good at this stage. It doesn't matter. It's the fact you've started that's important.

11. Ask yourself if you are enjoying your writing. It's not supposed to be a chore. Don't berate yourself for penning 100 words that week when you'd aimed for a 1000. Be happy that you did that 100 and try to do more next time. Writing should be enjoyable, if it's not, then you're doing something wrong. Park it for a while and try writing a different genre to flex your writing muscle in a different direction.

12. Keep writing. Practice makes for a better writer. The more you write the better you'll get. If you've completed your objectives, set yourself harder ones but above all, keep writing!

GOOD LUCK!

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