Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gearing Up: A New Year's a Comin'

Gear up!
Put things in motion!
Get in tune with your writing!

Those are the “cheerleading words” I say to myself this time of year.

The New Year will soon be upon us. In a few weeks many of us will draft a list of resolutions –resolving to change bad habits or create new good ones. The purpose of this post is to help think through appropriate writing goals for 2016.

Consistency Trumps Fits and Starts
One of the best habits to develop this year is to write on a consistent basis. Some people think they write best “when the mood hits” them. Mood is important, but writing on a regular basis goes a long way to summon the mood.

Let me offer an example of what I mean. When I was working on my Masters thesis, I lugged my notebooks and file folders around wherever I went so that I could work on the writing of the manuscript when the chance arose or my mood to “dig in” hit me. I did a lot of lugging and very little writing. One day, I came across an article written by a doctoral student working to completing his dissertation. In order to get it finished, he set “office hours” and gave himself permission to have a life outside of the office.

My “office” at the time was a desk set up in our spare bedroom with a monstrous desktop computer on it. I shared the computer with my husband and children, so my office hours needed to fall sometime between midnight and six. Yeah, right.

I took the concept to heart, though. My middle daughter was a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra at the time. They practiced for two hours every Sunday. Two hours every Sunday. I could do that. I settled in with my documents, my data, a notepad, and pen, every Sunday. I was amazed at how much I could accomplish in those two hours. Enthusiasm for my thesis grew.

Encouraged by the minimal progress, I “found” time to type in what I had drafted on Sundays. Soon I was writing three pages a day, five days a week. Every evening after the kids were in bed, I sat down to write. Even if I trashed some of what I wrote later, I became disciplined to write consistently. It paid off.  I know it did, because I have the degree to prove it.

The point is this: Even if all you can give to your writing is an hour on Sunday afternoons or a commitment to fifteen minutes every morning after breakfast, your writing will take on a life of its own and you will reach your goal.

Support Helps Keep You Up
Duh…but of course I’m not talking about a crutch. I’m talking about a foundation. You may have naysayers in your life. You know, those people who treat your desire to write as a “phase” or hobby. The ones who don’t want to listen to your latest draft or have too much going on to help you brainstorm an idea. This is why you need other writers—likeminded people who are on the same path. Where do you find that kind of support? You can join a writing group, create a writing group, find an online group or even find one other person you know who also wants to write. You will be surprised at how interactions with other writers will catapult your writing career and help you reach your goals.

I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). The organization offers online support and critique groups as well as free Webinars aimed at improving my writing. In addition, I enjoy face-to-face interactions with members of my local chapter.

I’m also a member of a dynamic group of writers called 10 Minute Novelists. In that group, I can get help with any question I have regarding my work in progress, attend online chats via Facebook or Twitter, and interact with writers around the world. And yes, you can join 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook as well. It’s free.

New Year, New Dog, New Tricks
Oh, yes, education. Learning something new. We all need it. Writing is one of those occupations where there is always something new to discover. It may be learning a new story structure or how to implement a point of view you haven’t employed in the past. Maybe it means studying character development or ways to portray differing emotions your character experiences.
You could go to school to learn more about creative writing –a community college course or something. Maybe. You could also visit your local library and check out a book to read or read a copy of Writer’s Digest from cover to cover. Pick a topic and research it on the internet. The new year will soon be here. Choose a course of action to learn more about this craft of writing and determine a way to accomplish it.

I don’t share these ideas from a distance. These are the very steps I’m taking to gear up for the new year. Here is what it looks like for me:
  • Write two hours every morning after my breakfast and Bible reading
  • Attend my chapter meetings and engage in my online group. And this year, I’m working with someone at church to offer a writing workshop/critique group for members
  •  Learn what I can about independent publishing for Amazon. I want to complete a short book of stories about my husband and make them available on Amazon. I want to publish this independently because I want all proceeds to go to the scholarship fund set up in his name.

Thank you to all who have already given. And for those of you who want to offer an end-of-the-year tax deductible donation…follow this link and be sure to use the drop down tab to direct your gift to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship Fund: 

So what are your goals? What is ONE step you plan to take this new year? Share your ideas in the comment section. Reading what you plan to do will help others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your comments here. I look forward to hearing from you.