For the first time in a while I am feeling good about myself. I finally feel I have a story worth writing and I am determined to actually do it.
It is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work. At the minute for various reasons I am only spending a small amount of time each day on it. I am still building up background and and noting plot points, still figuring out exactly what story I am trying to tell. But the real achievement for me is that I am spending time on it each day. I am thinking about it all the time, I am beginning to see the world of my story open up, and coming from the state I have been in for the past few months this is very exciting.
The crunch will be when I have outlined as much as I feel I can or should, and actually start writing. I need to accept in advance that the first couple of drafts will be poor and there will be parts that I hate. Hopefully there will be parts that I love! But I must not expect to be happy with the first draft, else there will never be a final draft for me to be happy with.
It is easy to question yourself when you have dry times like I have just had. Should I even thinking about writing, my inability to do anything is just making me frustrated and miserable? If I was meant to be a writer, wouldn’t I feel energised and motivated, compelled to write anything and everything constantly? Shouldn’t it be harder to stop me than to start? But I read a few things lately that have made me think twice, and have given me permission to say: writing is hard. It is like alcoholism – acceptance is the first step to recovery. Allowing myself to say that writing is hard allows me to keep restarting, retrying and not give up.
Right now I am actually pretty proud of myself for not giving up – I have kept a journal going, I have restarted my blogs, I have drafted a couple of competition entries, and now I finally have the basis of a novel I think I can do something with. I am putting in some writing time every day, and it is becoming natural, even necessary. I intend to stop feeling guilty that I am making slow progress, and start feeling proud that I am making any. I will let myself work at a comfortable pace now and work up as the words begin to flow better and faster.
Because I think that now I am becoming a writer, and once I get going I will not give up. Individual projects may falter and fail, but my goal will not.
Right then, Fresh Start #451 begins now. Mainly in writing, but also other areas of my life – namely being a better mother to my son and keeping on top of the house. Writing, though, is where the serious FS#451 is aimed.
At the moment I am caught in a vicious circle of not writing because I am not enjoying it and not enjoying it because I am not writing. Once down in the ‘Slough of Despondency’ (is that Pilgrim’s Progress?) it is incredibly difficult to struggle out of it. I have reached a nice little comfort zone with a journal entry every couple of days and am not pushing myself to do much more. Enter Fresh Start #451.
So here is a list of new (again) short term and longer term goals. I have included a guilt-free reading list because, as I was reminded in a blog today, reading is an essential part of a writer’s life. And I AM a writer. Maybe not a very good one but I will get there.
By the way, is it slightly ironic that as I am typing this in WordPress, the spellchecker highlights ‘blog’ as a misspelling? No? Ok, it must just be me. On to the lists…
Short term goals
- Begin reblogging on both this blog and The Daniel Pages. Not necessarily long posts, but published, tagged and categorised PLEASE.
- Explore tutorials on getting the most out of WordPress and look at getting hosting so my very talented hubby can build me a nice shiny customised blog. (He is really very talented, leave a comment if you’re interested in knowing more)
- Enter the monthly competition in Writing Magazine – this needs to be an inflexible rule, even if it’s the only one I’ve got and even if I’m not particularly inspired. One short story on a given prompt every month.
- Poetry. As the muse strikes!
Longer term goals
- Filing WIP on paper and on disk
- Poetry – as above
- Compiling ideas for stories and journaling whilst out and about as opposed to a page’s rant every couple of mornings.
- Compiling subjects for research (see below)
- Finding inspiration for the best-selling novel I WILL write.
- An Open University course
Reading and Research
- More contemporary literature to broaden my experience
- More non-fiction on a range of topics – journalling or blogging interesting points. This is a) to keep my brain working and b) to provide material for blog posts
- Newspapers / The Week – for the same reasons as above
- A ‘Flavour of the Month’ – not strictly monthly! An area that takes my interest and could provide inspiration for any type of writing whether it is a blog post, short story, poetry or novel; taking notes and making information files on the computer for future reference. For example in the past year I have had brief but genuine interest in astronomy and aromatherapy and have greatly enjoyed looking into these areas, and currently fancy looking into early feminism and women’s enfranchisement. So if anyone knows any interesting blogs, books or materials, please let me know.
So there you go. Fresh Start #451, raring to go. And now it’s on the internet, so it must be the real thing.
Just a quick one today, because I’ve been writing a pantomime script for two days solid, it’s nearly midnight, and I need to go to sleep before my dear darling son wakes up for a couple of hours.
I just wanted to recommend a couple of things. Firstly, the book: Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled”. I’ve been reading this book for a couple of days, between script writing, and it is the most wonderful journey into poetry I could imagine. It explains formal terms and how to use them, with a handy reference table at the end of the chapter, and includes exercises to put the theory into practice. It has opened up a world of poetry to me, and I cannot wait to finish the panto so I can get back on with the book.
Secondly, aforesaid poetry. I have been dabbling with poetry a little over the past few months without any insight or guidance to get the most from it. Now, however, I am beginning to notice poetry in everyday life. I know this sounds pretentious, but bear with me. I am picking up rhythms in speech, I am noticing alliteration in hidden places (deliberate as well as accidental). I am learning to break down language and to play with language and it is more exciting than I can ever remember it being.
Here is a link to “The Ode Less Travelled” on Amazon (UK), and I hope you get as much enjoyment from it as I have so far.
So, I decided, in my infinite wisdom, that I was spending WAY too much time on facebook, twitter, blogs, reading about writing, reading about reading, reading about procrastination. I decided that I needed to actually do more of the things I was reading about.I decided to avoid facebook and twitter and blogs for a few days and see how I got on.
Turns out I didn’t get on all that well actually. From being someone who didn’t have a mobile phone until I left home and only got on the internet in 2000 (ish) I am now hooked on the web. And like all bad habits and addictions it takes up all my time, prevents me from actually doing anything productive, interferes with a ‘normal’ daily life, sucks me back in to doing it more and more and, when I finally do switch the computer off, I feel dissatisfied and guilty because I just wasted so much time. I may have read thirty new blog posts on writing a bestseller, I may have read fifty thought provoking and insightful pieces of writing, but at the end of the day I have gained nothing but frustration and guilt from the experience. And yet I carry on!
So, instead of going cold turkey and hoping that I might use that time to be a better writer, wife, mother, I am going to at least try and use the time productively to improve my writing. I am also going to kill two birds with one stone and actually make use of this blog. With these aims in mind I am planning to go through the huge collection of family photos stored on my laptop without any hope of ever seeing ink and paper and post a photo with a reflection on said photo, every day that I am on the computer. Hopfeully I will also have days when I am not on the computer at all!
And I am absolutely, definitely, maybe going to stop using the word actually. Way overused. Tap on the hand and do better next time.