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It’s that time of year again, the time when we try to enrich our lives, to make ourselves into better individuals, the time of the New Year resolution. A few years ago I made my most successful resolution, the one I found easiest to stick to, the one that had the most tangible results. It was to do with giving something up but it wasn’t anything like chocolate or wine. The thing I gave up was unnecessary marigolds_spottycleaning. I vowed to do the minimum amount of domestic chores I could get away with without the house turning into Miss Havisham’s dining room. In all honesty the house didn’t look that much different. There are two small boys in my house, they pick things up, play with them for a bit and put them down on the nearest surface. They are constantly hungry and leave empty bowls, plates and glasses around the house every 5 minutes, wrappers, apple cores etc. They kick off their shoes and drop their coats, DVD boxes, books, Lego. They don’t mean to be messy it just comes naturally. I would spend hours tidying, days putting things away. Four years ago I stopped doing it. With the time I gained not tidying up I wrote a novel, completed an MA and helped set up a spoken word co-operative. It has been the most satisfying New Year’s trade-off I ever made. I have the time to write every day, yes the house won’t win home of the year but visitors don’t really notice unless I point it out to them. The washing gets done, the dishwasher gets loaded and I occasionally run the hoover about but polishing? Ironing? No chance; I’ve got a story to write. Last year I wrote a themed short story collection without even realising I’d done it. Ten stories accumulated over the course of the year – this was in addition to work on my novel, five Rattle Tales events and a bit of poetry.

This year my resolution is to continue with actual creativity rather than wasting time on domesticity, as Quentin Crisp said, after the first ten years you don’t notice the dust. No one ever had a clean picture frame published. What’s this I have in my hand? Oh yes, a paperback with my name on it!

It’s not just the cleaning – ditch watching telly too. It’s all rubbish. Ok, there may be that un-missable event series once a week but let’s face it the rest of it is crap. I let this slide last year but in 2013 it is my intention to stop watching mindless drivel and turn to the keyboard instead. I want this year to be my most creative yet. I want to write more, perform more, and get work into more festivals and magazines. I want Rattle Tales to go further than we could ever have imagined and, most of all, when this year is up I want to say with all honesty that I didn’t waste it.

A happy and productive 2013 to you all.