I hate New Years resolutions. It’s as if the excitement of the holidays guarantees you are going to choose things that are sure to fail. Or you are so spaced out with sunstroke or a Xmas dinner leftovers sugar rush that you have no idea what it really means to lose 10kg or meet 100 new people or take a trip to a 3rd world country. According to our favourite on-line font of knowledge 88% of of us who make resolutions are going to fail! So, here’s an idea. I am not going to make any and I am definitely not going to make any about writing – I can’t afford to fail those!
Becoming a Stay-At-Home Dad and making a commitment to become a writer (rather than messing around saying I want to be one) has made for an interesting last 14 months. Looking after kids full time took quite a bit of getting used to – there were times where I seriously questioned my mental health – but I think I finally have a handle on it. Plenty to do on that front and it does take a lot of time and effort, but I think I have reached a point where it should no longer interfere with my aim of becoming a writer. So, that excuse dealt with, on to writing.
“Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven’t been told a million times already – that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching. ”
― Harlan Ellison
I have said this a few times in past posts, but I really had no idea beyond the romantic notions of what it actually means to be a writer. If I have learnt anything in the last year, it’s that I know nothing. (ok, maybe a little, I’m not that dumb). Writing is damn hard. There is no doubt about it. It requires a level of discipline, single mindedness and tenacity that most would not expect from that weird looking dude hunched over a keyboard in the corner of the coffee shop. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I never realised just how hard it really is. Nothing I have ever done compares and there is no way anyone could ever hope to succeed if he/she don’t commit themselves 100%. (don’t you hate it when people say 110%? where are they going to get that extra 10% from – eat a few more donuts?)
I have a tremendous amount still to learn and a serious mountain to climb before I will be confident enough to change “will-be Writer” to “Writer” at the top of this blog. So, on the advice of my life coach, I am finally committing to some goals (another cliché I know). Writing Goals. Sure I have a few personal ones too, but those are none of your beeswax. :-). And, apparently, sharing these goals is one of the things you can do to help you reach them. I figure it’s why I managed Nano’12 – everyone knowing how far you are added more than a little impetus to keep going. Social motivation. Fear.
1 – A page/post a day.
Yah yah, we all have something like that on the list. Word counts do not work for me so I am trying something more open and less mathematical. The idea here is that I write something more than a sentence a day. Bum in the chair clicking away at the keyboard for a minimum of 1 hour a day. I have 3 hours each weekday morning so it should be possible. Weekends may be tricky. Any writing except email & instant messaging counts toward the total – this is my workaround to let me blog, flesh out plots, scenes and world-building as part of the count. Not sure if a blog entry a day is a good aim, but a page a day will be.
2 – Finish the Fiction Writers Workshop
I have had Josip Novakovichs book (first edition) for years and although I have read it cover to cover, I have not completed all the exercises. At a rough count there are 127 individual exercises (including the revision) which means about 2 to 3 per week over the course of a year. Some require a few pages of prose, some are a few paragraphs but I figure I can manage this. I still have so much to learn about the craft and the book has been recommended by so many people that I figure I should get my monies worth. I think that this will be better than aimless writing just to make a daily quota. If anyone would like to join me on this quest, drop me a note.
3 – Complete the first draft of my first novel
This is simpler said than done but I have the plot (and most of a world built) for a complete novel that I started during Nano’12. Unfortunately, I was a little too clever during Nano and I have realised that the 50k words would be better split as +-20k words for the start of 2 different novels set in the same world. This depressed me quite a bit post Nano because I thought I was far further than it turns out I actually am. I still have hope for the story, and with a little reworking I should be able to continue. I managed 50k words in Nano so completing a draft (= crap version) of a 120k+ fantasy novel should be more than possible. It will likely solicit the inevitable rejection and end up in the bottom drawer, but at least I can tick that one off the bucket list and use the experience to improve on the next one.
There are a few more things I would like to accomplish with my writing this year but these are the goals I am willing to commit to. Writing the novel is the only one I am worried about – but what’s the point of playing it safe and only having easy goals?
Whatcha think? Doomed to failure?