I hope you are all keeping well, and writing in whatever style, format or project which is inspiring you at the moment. I am getting a lot of emails from the disillusioned literatae out there, so here is something I have tried and tested and found helpful.... hope it does for you. Please excuse my clumsy attempts this morning - any confusion just email me, and I will clarify.
Sometimes we all get very depressed with what we perceive we are not achieving in our writing. This happens to absolutely everybody, experienced and novice alike... Then we stop writing for a while because we can't see a point or purpose (some would deny this and just blame outside influences - procrastination by any other name !!).
In everybody their reasons for writing is totally different, and what "dings our bell" is the reason all our writing so interesting. What motivates one person, turns another off, so today look at WHY you write, WHAT you hope to achieve and HOW to find the time to do it ...
Initially, we are going to take a short look back over what we have done in the past year, and then make a projected Plan about what we could do this year, making sure our dreams and ambitions are "doable".
Get a sheet of paper (A4 or bigger) and make a LARGE list of the months of last year (big coloured felt pens might be in order here).
Against each month log a writing success for which you would like that month known for posterity
ie in November I wrote my NaNoNovel, in February I was commissioned for a screenplay, in December I wrote a very tiny poem which would mean absolutely nothing to anybody except me, and is very private, but I am terribly proud of it.
Even though I have given you grandiose examples here (last year was a very unusual year for me for many reasons), the successes can be simply that you finished a short story, you edited a poem, you had a brill idea. Anything which took you outside your normal realm and broadened your literary skills.
Now... I want you to write your low points for each of the months...
in my case, October - I just ran out of time and got to the point that I was going to have to consider ditching the screenplay. November - I realised the website was taking up my writing time. January - I couldn't write anything which didn't involve misery, and was very depressed.
Okay you now have an inventory in front of you of last year - your Highs and Lows. Learn from the Lows and remember the Highs...and don't dwell on either - just carry the successes with you and give yourself a pat on the back.
Transfer the salient points you have learned (very briefly in note form) to a chart for this year (you will find a couple in the links section to download, or write one up on a piece of paper).
ie I took on the screenplay, but didn't think through how to achieve it - need to find more time, better time management structure. Get the drift?
Now lets look at the tasks in hand and break them down into small sections....
Write yourself 3 goals for the next 3 months (don't look further ahead otherwise you will demotivate yourself, and this is what we are trying to get around).
Mine are: -
1. write from at least 3 prompts a week - each using a differing style.
2. remember to look at my back notebooks at least once in any week.
3. spend an hour each week identifying where I could aim submitting my increasing portfolio of "scraps and tats" to, and then spend time working on them to trim them to fit...
The aim being: - at the end of the 3 months I want to have generated work for the next 3 months.
Easy eh.... except where am I going to find the time !!
Looking back at my chart, I see time has been a perennial problem and contributed massively to the lows last year - but all is not lost - I remembered I wrote that poem on a Sunday afternoon - that is generally a good time to think...
So returning to my A4 chart/planner/etc. I write down that Sunday afternoon could be one of my sessions which I will dedicate to writing, come hell or high water.
Repeat this process two more times - so you have identified at least three useable, feasible chunks of time in any given week ... don't be more ambitious otherwise you will find you are breaking your self-imposed "rule" as life gets in the way (as it has a habit of doing) and each time you do this you tell your subconscious that your writing is unimportant, and you are giving yourself excuses to stop writing ....
Are you still with me? Good...
Pin this piece of paper/calendar/chart on your noticeboard, fridge, front door, anywhere where you will look at it, and use it to motivate yourself to write for a purpose...to achieve what you have outlined above to yourself that you want to achieve...
Thanks for reading this, hope it hasn't been too confusing ... give it a whirl, don't be strict with yourself or make it a chore - use it to generate a constructive tool that you will use to structure your writing life and help you achieve your goals...
Writing in the Margins
Don't just Dream or Talk about it - WRITE IT! @