5 Dos and 5 Dont’s for 2018 – my personal New Year’s Resolutions!

This year, I have made some proper resolutions and I am going to stick to them. Oh, yes, I am! (Well, I’m going to try to anyway.) The main difference is that this year I really want to stick to them, whereas normally I can’t think of anything and so make fairly pointless resolutions like ‘Take better care of my nails/have more manicures’.

Here they are. Some of them are probably a bit strange, but I am probably a bit strange too, so that would explain it.

1) More swimming. I love swimming. On days when I swim I feel a million per cent better than on days when I don’t. So, instead of fitting in a swim when I can, I’m going to try to structure my routine around swimming – as soon as I’ve handed in the final version of The Mystery of Three Quarters, so starting on 8 January. (Until then, I’m chained to my desk.)

2) Meditation. Last year, I learned a brilliant kind of meditation. It’s called Ascension. I had to pay £200 to go on a course and learn how to do it, and – as with a lot of meditation –there is some spiritual stuff attached to it (which can be ignored if you want to ignore it) and the teachers of the course use Indian names instead of, for example, Darren and Marjorie (which I found a bit ‘Hmmm’. I would have preferred Darren and Marjorie, but never mind). The point is: the actual mediation technique is brilliant – as long as one remembers to do it. I haven’t been, so I’m going to start again. Half an hour at least, every day.

3) Healthy eating. I know how to do this. It’s boring but easy, and I’m going to do it again. It’s so boring that I can’t be bothered to say any more about it.

4) Protect writing time. Because I have to write 14 books between now and the end of July (slight exaggeration, but only slight), I have agreed to do almost no events between now and then. I need to do this more often, and not only when it’s an emergency. If I’m going to write, I need to stay at home more. And I actually love staying at home. My ideal day is: walk the dog, swim, brunch/early lunch, write all afternoon, cook dinner, eat dinner, walk the dog after dinner, watch Prison Break (or something equally addictive). I’ve just realised that it can be up to me how often I have days like these, and I’m going to be having more of them in 2018 than I ever have before.

5) Don’t try to turn work gigs/book tours into holidays. Because I am away doing book tours and events so often, I decided a while ago that, if I had to be away so much, I needed to enjoy it. This led to a (very long) period where I would pay to upgrade myself to the best hotel wherever I went, and make sure to stay extra days in that hotel so that I could lie around on the beaches after the work part of my trip was finished. This must have cost me a ridiculous amount of money over the years. And it’s turned me into a holiday addict. And it’s made me go slightly crazy and end up resenting the work part of the work trips I go on. (‘What, you want me to get off my sun lounger and talk about my new book? Are you guys serious? I’M ON HOLIDAY! Oh, wait – no I’m not.’) Anyway, the point is, I’ve decided I need to be mature about this. If I’m invited to do something that is not sufficiently tempting unless I pay through the nose to upgrade and attach spa treatments to it, then I should simply say no instead of trying to turn it into a holiday. And I will try to do this in 2018.

6) Do nothing and say nothing whenever possible – if there’s trouble brewing, if someone is discussing politics on Twitter… There are so many situations where one might wade in (and I certainly have in the past), where if one instead did and said nothing, life would be much calmer and easier. So, from now on I’m going to react and opine as little as possible, whether the drama is personal, professional or political. I will save all my drama and action for my books!

7) No politics. If there’s a general election this year, I’m totally ignoring it, and I’m certainly not staying up all night for an election ever again. I intend to ignore politics for as long as possible – until men with guns burst through the door and seize my Agatha Christie paperback collection. During the night of the last general election, I went for a walk at 4 a.m. and asked a passing drunk stranger for a cigarette, so wound up was I. I explained that I needed a cigarette because of the election and she said, ‘Oh – right, that was today, wasn’t it?’ From now on, I intend to be more like that drunk stranger.

8) No more panicked, sleep-deprived book-finishing. Why do I always stay up till 4 am to finish book, and end up writing 5,000 hysterical words a day for a week before the book is due in? Each time, I give myself palpitations and hallucinations. Instead, from now on, I am going to either a) start the book in sensible time to finish it when it needs to be finished, or b) say to my publishers, ‘I’m going to need an extra two weeks.’ I’m sure no one would notice or care if I handed something in late, but I have a pathological fear of typing ‘The End’ after the agreed deadline. This makes me ill every time – so it must stop!

9) No more make-up for TV interviews. Recently I appeared on the TV version ofFront Row to discuss Agatha Christie and the new Murder on the Orient Express movie. I had make-up put on me, as TV people like to do, and I thought to myself: I’m sick of this. I’m sick of going on TV covered in weird gunk. So, from now on I’m going to say ‘just the minimal amount of powder, please, so that I don’t shine’. No one in the world could possibly care whether some writer on their telly has black eyelashes or paler, ordinary-looking ones, and I’m going to be making this point politely but forcefully in future.

10) No more pre-interview interviews. Many radio and TV people want to ring you up and interview you a few days before they’re going to interview you, to find out what you are likely to say in the real interview. This means that if you agree to one interview, they in fact assume you will do two interviews. I don’t have time to be interviewed twice every time I’m interviewed once so … no.

Those are all the ones I can think of for the time being. Have you made any interesting New Year’s resolutions? If so, I’m going to be putting mine on my Facebook Author page soon, and I will invite you to share yours too!

Hope you all have a great year!