2011: a year of scary but good changes

(Apologies for the title. I'll try and think of a better one.)

Well, the Christmas festivities are over, my sisters and their families have gone home, and now I'm in a sea of chocolate to eat and presents to tidy away and laundry to do and a room to tidy. In the course of all this I got thinking about next year and what I'd like to achieve, as 2010 has not been a brilliant year for that stuff, so I feel like starting again.

And on that note, here's the things I'd lik to do in 2011. Some are things that will happen, some are things I want to achieve, and some are just completely wild and crazy (well, as wild and crazy as I get at the grand old age of 23).

1. Learn to drive
Like most people, I took driving lessons at 17, and I admit I was awful at it. I had a very strong sense of being in control of this potentially lethal vehicle, which made me nervous and forget what I was doing - normally something stupid that would then make me stall - and I'd worry I was annoying other drivers and get panicked. However, a few friends who've learnt to drive when they were a bit older have said they were much more confident the second time round, so my plan is to have passed my test by next Christmas. It seems a bit pointless to be driving in London, and I'm not planning to get a car, but it's a useful skill to have and will make it easier for things like going up to see my parents at Christmas.

2. Move to London
This is a definite - my current contract is due to finish at the end of March, and if it's a choice between temping 'oop north' and temping in London I'd much rather be down there. Although obviously I'm going to keep looking for a job down there so I won't have to temp (more on this next). I'm looking forward to it - my two weeks there earlier this month gave me a taste for it and now I know it's where I want to be, plus I'm really excited about living with my boyfriend (again, sort of). So hopefully I'll be there by Easter.

3. Get closer to my dream job
Kind of linked in to the second point, and following on from my work experience. I know I want to write for my living, but I know that a copywriting job won't fall into my lap. So, the plan is to apply for regular jobs between now and the end of March, going back to the agency at the beginning of April if nothing's come up, keeping applying whilst in London and hunting out other agencies for work experience, trying to get on copywriting courses and entering things like the IPA copywriting test. I may not have the job by next Christmas, but at least an interview is possible, right?

4. Have £10,000 in the bank
This one is a continuation of a 2010 resolution that did go well - getting myself to £5,000 in savings. So for next year the plan is to double that and hopefully feel more financially secure. It will be difficult because of having living expenses once I move down south, and of having to spend my current savings if I don't get a job in London fairly quickly, but ten grand would be a good step on the road towards something like a deposit on a flat or getting married (although both of those are many years off...).

5. Do more exercise 
The perrenial classic. Every year I say I will, and every year I don't. So as part of this my goal is to find a type of exercise that I enjoy and want to stick with. I want to take up swimming again, and get into yoga and maybe a couple of other sports, plus walking to work when I move to London, and until then will tide myself over with workout DVDs. I have a relatively healthy diet but exercise is something I'm really bad at, so I want to tone up a bit in 2011.

6. Sort out my style
I know what type of clothes I like - the 50s/Mad Men look for work, jeans and retro T shirts for play - but I'm just really bad at buying the stuff. So this year's goal is to get a defined work style (I'm thinking more skirts and dresses, wide leg trousers, pussy bow blouses, cardigans, brightly coloured fitted scoop neck tops and ballet pumps) and to buy the things to help that work rather than spending my money on nice pieces that I won't wear. As a back-up to this, buying nice skin products is also going to get thrown in there to find the routine which works for me.

7. Watch more films and TV box sets
As an ex-Film Studies student, I feel like I really should watch more movies. Granted this is partly because the nearest cinema is a 40 minute bus ride away and because we don't have Sky, but I still feel like I should make the effort as I've missed so many good films this year. So the HMV 2 DVDs for £10/3 for £20 deals are going to see a lot more of me. Similarly, there are loads of TV series - House, Lost, Heroes, The West Wing, The Wire - that I either haven't seen or stopped watching halfway through when they moved to Sky, so they're on my list as well.

9. Read more
I've always been a serious reader, but the past few years life has got in the way of being able to read as much as I'd like, so this year I'm going to aim for a book a week (a target I missed this year, but not by much, and train journeys should help with that). I'm also going to attempt to read more classic books as opposed to just mindless trash, although I say that when everything on my current wish list is mainly rubbish...

10. Finish using up my toiletry stash
I am a notorious toiletry stasher - anything that smells nice and I will want to buy it, particularly if you stick the words 'limited edition' on it. Granted the bath stuff stash is not too bad, but the shower gel in particular really needs to come down. So the objective is to use up as much as I can and not to buy any more. It sounds mad but this is probably going to be the hardest of my resolutions to keep, especially as it kind of goes hand in hand with the nice skincare mentioned earlier on. But we'll see.

11. Regularly update my blog
I know I've been a bit slack here, but I'm going to do my very best to post a regular update at least once a week, and ideally every two or three days, just to keep it updated and also to practice writing for my own enjoyment again, which I haven't done for God knows how long and have just realised how much I missed it. Plus it'll be something to add to my portfolio (that reminds me, must update that...).

12. Dye my hair red 
OK, this is the totally mad random one, but I just want to see what it'd be like. I used to have bright red streaks in my hair when I was at university, but graduating and having to get a proper job put paid to that. However now I'm thinking I'd like to try it again, although the look I'm thinking of is more of a coppery colour than a super-bright red. I'm not due for a hairdressers' appointment for a few weeks though but will discuss it with my stylist next time and maybe try a temporary colour to get a similar effect.

So, there are my goals for next year, and hopefully by 2012 I'll be able to say I achieved most of them. Watch this space to find out more...

Back from work experience, and Christmas decorations

Firstly, apologies for being shoddily late posting this entry - what with my work experience taking up loads of time and being generally too shattered of a night to work on this, plus then coming home and all the madness of getting ready for Christmas. Must do better next year.

So, to discuss. The agency I went to is fairly small, but they have a few big clients including an energy company and a mobile phone provider (I won't name names for confidentiality's sake) so it was a nice mix. I feel like I learnt a lot about things like tone of voice for different brands - I've become so used to writing in a very corporate, back-watching way, and it was nice to break away from that a little and be a bit more informal and play around with the language I used a bit more - and about writing for different media like text messages and email newsletters as well as more traditional posters and letters. One thing I do have to say though is that the staff were lovely, particularly the creative team on my floor who made me feel really welcome and part of the team even though I was only there a short time.

I had a meeting with the creative director on my last morning and got some great feedback, plus an invitation to come back in the spring when I move down there for good and the offer that they'd try to get me on some copywriting courses to develop further. So that's very promising, but obviously I'm not going to put my job hunt on hold just in case. A friend has sent me details of a couple of small but decently-paid jobs in central London, one of which is very close to what I do now, so I'm going to work on my applications for those over the Christmas period and hopefully get an interview.

I also think I got a good taste of what it's going to be like actually living in London and dealing with the commute (actually not that horrific, and walkable in the summer, but obviously that might change if I end up working somewhere less easy to get to). Because I've only ever been there for weekends before, and not braved central London that much, it was good to get an idea of what it's going to be like when I'm there permanently. Which was 'busy, but not in an awful way', although the novelty of having stuff to do might wear off after a few months.

However, in a slightly soppy way, one of the things I really missed about being away from home for two weeks was getting ready for Christmas, particularly putting up the Christmas tree. We are one of those families whose Christmas decorations have been collected over the last thirty years or so of family life, but which get added to in some shape or form every year - everything from the kitsch (a model of the Bijou Theatre from It's A Wonderful Life that you put a fairy light in) to the beautiful (glass Nativity scene) to the sentimental (decorations my sisters and I made at school) to the utterly random (a Kiwi with angel wings and halo). It was incredibly surreal coming home on Sunday to find the house decorated, because that's something I'd do with my family, and it also made me a bit sad thinking that when I do move away I'll have to do all that stuff myself and start a new tree from scratch. This will probably be the last Christmas I'll be at home rather than travelling to visit my family on my own, and whilst I'm trying to think positive it feels a bit like I'm not the baby any more and I'm a proper grown-up. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Have a lovely Christmas and I hope Father Christmas brings you what you wished for.

Let's start at the very beginning

Which, if Julie Andrews has taught us anything, is a very good place to start.

I'm 23 and graduated from university last summer. Since then, I've been working as part of the communications team at an NHS trust - a perfectly good first job, and one which I'm very lucky to have had and which has helped me hone my writing skills for different audiences and taught me an awful lot about what I want out of my future career. The job is due to finish at the end of March and at that point I'm planning to move down to London to live with my boyfriend and get a job down there.

This blog, therefore, is going to be the diary of my progress in moving to London, job hunting and any adventures along the way, as well as a wider diary of things that go on in my life including books I've read, films I've seen, pictures I've taken and anything else that I feel so inclined to post on.

The reason for starting to blog now is that a very exciting opportunity has come up to intern as a copywriter with an advertising agency, starting next week. I'm immensely excited about that as I've always loved writing, even from when I was little, and this is a great chance to bulk up my portfolio and make it more creative. I'm not expecting it to be easy by any means - a couple of other copywriters I've spoken to have said it's a tough industry - but I'm hoping that it'll be brilliant experience and will hopefully give me an idea that this is what I want to do with my life.

There is also a job with a major and popular website as a junior writer which I'm applying for, although that's a bit more technical than I'd truly like to be and closer to my current job than just pure writing, but you've got to take your chances and I don't know what might come of it. Ditto an editiorial assistant job that looks interesting, although again that's moving further away from writing yet again. It sounds a bit risk-averse but in a way I'd much rather have a guaranteed job to go to in March than move to London and temp, even though I can thankfully afford to do that and I'd much rather temp in London than back home where I am now. But this is all speculative right now, and let's see what happens...