I HAVE been writing these columns for about five years now, and - as I’m sure it does to you - it feels to me like it’s been a long few years.

Although it’s only at a rate of one per month, they’re written on top of thousands of other words that I write to help fill this newspaper and website every week, in my own time, and without any guidance on topics or theme.

I know there are people who make a living from blogging on a daily basis, and if I wore a hat I’d tip it to them, because that’s not something I have any desire to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s a very worthwhile way to spend your day - even more so if it’s made lucrative through online advertising or book deals - but I wish I had the kind of drive that would help me come up with a topic every 24 hours or less.

“Wish in one hand, spit in the other, see which fills up first”, to paraphrase one of the more offbeat Christmas films I’ll be watching in coming weeks.

To my surprise, there are still those who don’t know the difference between a news story and one of these columns - you’ll probably find them in the comments section below - but to help clear it up, the main difference is (a) I’m not paid for these, and (b) they’re just the rambling thoughts of an over-tired reporter, NOT a message from The Press. So don’t get your knickers in a twist if you don’t agree with them.

Write something positive, and you’re an idiot or in someone’s pocket. Write something cynical, and you’re a pessimist or talking something down. Write about how readers misinterpret your work, and you’re a crybaby (yes, I know).

Any time we get comments on our work, whether that’s news or opinion, there is still an element of joy, or at least curiosity.

More often than not, it’s just a bit of fun picking up on a phrase or a comment in the copy, but occasionally it’s a personal attack on the reporter and that’s not okay.

Of course, we respect the right of our readers to have their say on the thousands of pages of content we’re providing in print and online, and we encourage engagement, but if that engagement is libellous or defamatory, or represents a threat to an individual, you have to respect our right to remove it. We’re not doing it for fun.

These days, as the nights draw in and the weather turns cold, it’s increasingly difficult to remain positive. Even more so when you’re writing “endless paragraphs of whataboutery” and facing ridicule for it (constructive criticism of my last column which I’m honestly very fond of but have paid no attention to).

But it’s important to try. Speaking this week in York, comedian Eddie Izzard said: “Dream big, try and put positive things into the world because there are a number of people who put negative things into the world. One of them’s the President of America at the moment. But we need to fight against that, so anyone who’s got a positive heart, got some energy, take your ideas, make things, do something. Get your stuff rolling, and when you’ve got to a good place, try and bring other people forward. That’s quite a nice thing to do.”

Nobody would accuse Eddie Izzard of being pessimistic. Outspoken and eccentric, maybe, but regardless of your taste in comedy it’s difficult to see him as anything but a force for good.

Will I follow his mantra without question? Nope. Will I endeavour to be the most optimistic person in the room? No. No point in setting unattainable goals (we have some remarkably upbeat people in our office, believe it or not).

Let me take each day as it comes. I’ll try to find something positive in it, or provide something positive where I can’t find it.

Me, I’m not dreaming that big in the scheme of things, but I’ll put this aim in black and white as an early New Year’s resolution, and a message to those in a similar position.

Stop focusing on the negative, or at least try. If you can’t find something good, try to do something good.