Monday 7 January 2019

Writing resolution 2019

I like a challenge, as you know. I like to start something new in the new year and keep it up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly when it doesn’t, it’s because it’s too vague or too hard. The single most successful challenge I have ever set myself is to write 500 words a day every day for a year, which I did in 2016. I found that for me 500 words a day is absolutely doable in any circumstances. On a good day, it’s thirty minutes of writing; on a slow day it might take about an hour. I included every type of writing in my 500 words – words that were part of whatever my work-in-progress was, blog words, reviews, writing exercises. Each day I added my words to a spreadsheet and found, by the end of the year, that I’d written over 200,000 words. Every single day felt like a successful writing day when I added my daily total to the spreadsheet. That is a feeling worth having.

I learned two main things the last time around. Number one is that, for me, first thing in the morning, before I get out of bed is the optimum time for writing fast because the critical self-editor who normally sits on my shoulder appears to be still asleep at this time. Any later and it’s likely to take me twice as long. And the point is to get the words on the paper. They don’t have to be readable – they just have to be there. Knocking them into shape is an entirely separate thing.

The second thing I learned is that I need to spend more time on detailed plotting and planning ahead so that I always know exactly what I’m going to be writing each day. I had some moments in 2016 when I had finished everything I had planned and so I began writing random parts of things that I had had vague thoughts about, all of which are still sitting in files waiting for me to get to them some day. On the other hand, there is definitely room for spontaneity. In 2016, I began writing little pieces of fairy tale as writing exercises and these stories grew wings and have become my Snippets project which continues to be an absolute delight to work on.

So I am beginning the year writing a short piece which will become the beginning of a new novel I hope. At the moment I know how the story begins but the rest is sketchy. I need to find a way into it before I start doing serious planning. I think this will be around 3,000 words and so will fill about a week. I’m not yet sure what my subsequent 500 words a day will be about because my first big project of the year isn’t writing something new but reworking something I originally wrote back in 2016. I need to read it first to decide if I’d be better off starting from scratch or if there is something that can be salvaged. That probably sounds like a disheartening task to be undertaking but it’s not. I love the idea of this book and I think I’ve come up with a much better way to tell the story. I imagine I’m going to need a good bit of planning before I’m ready to write some more on either of these projects. Seems to me like this might be a chance to write some new Snippets stories – oh yes!

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