Writing Goals

Writers Write: Five Hundred is the Goal

It’s no secret that I have trouble committing to anything I’m not getting paid to do. I also procrastinate. For instance, I was supposed to write this post on Sunday evening. I can’t imagine that I was doing anything that would have warranted my not writing the post then. I had the task written on my calendar. I had the freedom and time to keep my word to myself.

I found last week that in order not to lose the voice and tone of my novel, I need to work on it daily. I didn’t just pull this goal out of the air without reason. So, I’m going to fight to keep it. Even when it mess up. I’m going to keep trying.

This weekend I said I would give myself the goal of writing five hundred words towards my creative writing project a day. Even while exhausted I should be able to keep this goal. Even on posting days. I realize I may miss Wednesdays – that’s a day where its normally impossible to find the time to do anything. But on every other day of the week, I’m going to make writing a priority. I deserve this commitment to myself. Wish me luck.

Writing Goals

The Art of Finishing: Maintaining Voice

I’m a one-off sort of person. Every now and then I may say or do something inspired, maybe even profound. I have commanded attention with my brilliance, but before I can really revel in the moment, before i can pat myself on the back, I am equally known to follow up my greatness with blatant and embarrassing stupidity.

A fear years ago I was sitting in a lecture when the writing instructor spat out a list of rules and terms he wanted us to use as a writing prompt. I had one of my one-off moments in that lecture. I totally killed the prompt. It as glorious.

For the first time in my life, a one-off moment seemed as if it would last forever. I was able to stretch that brief exercise into nineteen chapters. The new writing style was unfamiliar but every time I sat down to work the characters, the plot, the setting, the voice – all of the confidence of that moment came back to me. It felt like I wouuld be able to pull it off forever.

And then I finished the MFA program and took a break from creative work. In that short time period, I lost it all . I could no longer find the tone, the voice, the pacing. None of it felt accessible.

Since last month, when my writer’s group decided to come back together again, I tried to reenter the story. I tried reading aloud, editing chapters, and freewriting. None of it worked. I only got discouraged.

As I mentioned last week, one of the ladies in the group suggested I work on a character diary so I could get to know my characters’ motivations. And I did. I wrote through different narrator so that I might free myself over the loss of my voice. I wrote knowing that I would never use any of the words for my final project. I wrote and wrote.

Last night, while rereading the last section I’d written in the diary, it all came back. The voice reappeared out of nowhere without warning.

Writers like King and several of my MFA mentors believe in a daily writing practice. Ive tried to commit to such a practice and failed. But now, afer these months of sitting before a blank screen waiting to fall in where I left off, I realized that the secret to consistency is practice. I have to keep the fires burning. Voice, especially this unfamiliar one, needs for me to come back every day in order to interact with it. The voice and I have to remain in constant conversation if we’re ever to know each other well enough to grow together. We have to make whatever sacrified we need to make in order to carry each other through.

Uncategorized

2020 Goals: #1 Adding Backstory

Last week my writer’s group met for our first meeting of the year. I was an hour late because of an extended church service and arrived just in time to have the first four short chapters of my novel critiqued 😟.

I didn’t get terrible comments but what I did get were lots of questions regarding my characters and their motivations. Although I could provide ideas and explanations that were none too convincing even to me, I realized I didn’t honestly have any definite answers.

During my MFA years, I thought creating a character diary was a waste. I figured that as a true pantser it would all work out. Plus, I only had so much time to spend on writing. There were always due dates and other responsibilities looming over my head.

That’s not the case now. I don’t have a lot of free time but I do have just enough to take my craft seriously. So, for the next two weeks I’m going to finally create my first character diary. I’m going to set a goal to break down the backstory of every character in the novel: their childhoods, their hopes, dreams, family dynamics and motivations.

If do it right, by the next meeting I should be able to answer any questions that may come my way. If I’m lucky I may have enough info to write a short story or two to send out for publication.

Believers

The Art of Finishing: Characters are Real People Too

Outside of the soon-to-be consistent blog posts and the journaling I do when I’m wrestling with my emotions, all of my writing is fictional. I make up worlds, characters, and story lines for fun. I lie as a form of creative expression. However, I recently realized how close to the truth most of my work is. In one way or another I identify with all of my flawed and unsympathetic characters, even the worst of them.

My characters are the hidden reactions I stifle in order to survive in the free world. They are the what-ifs. What if I had been born at this time and had to deal with this manner of injustice? What if my parents were proud but weak? What if I was a wife who hated her husband but needed to be loved by him?

The characters I write are not nice people. They are misogynists. They are indifferent to the plights of those who struggle around them. They are selfish, impatient, and cruel.

It makes me nervous to think that when readers meet my characters they will judge me for allowing those people to live inside my head. I am a believer, but my imagination is not easily explained and probably not justifiable. It is filled with brokenness.

Does that make me wrong – to have so many flawed people inside my imagination? This is one of the reasons I have had trouble finishing a draft of my novel. I’m afraid of what it might say about me.