Tag Archives: goals

racing away from me

Over at Beautiful Misbehaviour, Stephanie has taken the (sensible) decision to stop the Writing Warriors Friday linky for health reasons. I’ve found writing weekly blog posts specifically about where I am with my creative writing to be really useful though, so I’m going to continue. It helps to keep me focused.

There’s so much going on in life at the moment that I feel like everything is racing away from me. I keep getting to the end of the week and finding that my ‘to do’ list (I love a list!) is longer rather than shorter. This week my ‘writing time’ has been in snatched fragments. I feel like I’ve done nothing at all. But one of the nice things about having a blog on a week like this is that I can look at it and say ‘Oh! I did write something then!’ Ok, only a limerick for my weekly #limerick challenge and a piece of flash fiction yesterday, but it’s better than nothing.

Last week I was thinking about submissions – should I submit more (any!) of my poetry or short stories? I decided that this week I’d look more into possible places I could send my work to. I did this. I got overwhelmed. There are so many options! And I was too busy to look into anything properly so I’m going to have to carry that task over to next week. In fact, I think it’s going to be an ongoing project.

I’ve decided I should put my work out there more. I may feel less keen when I’ve had more rejections but hey, that’s the life of a writer isn’t it?! Besides which, as a fair few people said to me last week: ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it.’ So watch this space.

some conclusions

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This time last week I wrote a post about where I currently am with my writing. I’d been wondering about the balance between writing and blogging and about when to publish work on my blog. I linked up with Writing Warriors over at Beautiful Misbehaviour and posed some questions to fellow writer/bloggers out there.

I received some really great responses (if you’re interested in these issues it’s worth reading the post for the comments section alone!) and reading other #writingwarrior posts gave me further ideas. I’ve been mulling things over all week. I’m going to link up with Writing Warriors again today to share this post about how far I’ve got with those thoughts, as I know I’m not alone in pondering these issues.

To blog or not to blog?

If ‘blogging time’ reduces my ‘writing time’, should I have a blog?

The bloggers I heard from all got something important from their blogging. Whether it was connecting with a community of like-minded writers out there, a place to share their work, somewhere to develop their writing or just a space for their own thoughts.

I’ve thought about this and realised that although blogging does take time away from my writing, it has given me something in all of these areas. In particular, I don’t think I would really be writing poetry at all without this blog as a place to share it. I’ve never thought of myself as a poet and although I wrote a few poems a year ago around the time my son was born, I hadn’t written any more until very late last year. Then in November I took the decision to publish a poem about late pregnancy that I’d written previously. I was encouraged by the feedback and that prompted me to write some more. Since then (which, now I come to think about it, is only over the past two months!) I’ve found myself really wanting to write poetry. Something happens in my life and I have the urge to sculpt it onto a poem somehow! I know for certain this would not be the case had I not shared that poem and continued to share them here.

So that made me realise that although blogging does take time away from my  other writing, it is also very much a part of my writing experience. It is helping me develop and is thus very much worth it!

To publish perfect work or work-in-progress?

If a blog is – in any way – a promotional tool, should I only publish my ‘best’ work?

A response here was that a blog was a good place to record a writing journey and that ‘imperfection’ was all part of that!  Also, sometimes it was good to share something with others: you could promote discussion of a particular issue or share experiences without needing to spend hours/ days/whatever honing your work.

I can also see that publishing ‘unfinished’ or ‘unpolished’ work could be a good way of getting feedback and encouragement towards completing it. Besides which, I’m not sure that anyone expects a blog to be merely a gallery of ‘best work’ anyway. If mine were that, it would be a different sort of blog – less chatty and more formal. A blog version of an anthology, I suppose.

So if I think about my experience as a blogger, I don’t think I’d enjoy it nearly so much if I was constantly striving for perfection. Frankly, my chances of achieving it are zero anyway! I want my blog to be friendly and genuine, not perfect and po-faced. I’m currently typing this with a baby lying on my lap who is wriggling and randomly whacking the buttons on some hideous, plastic, noisy toy while simultaneously pulling my hair, so it would be hard to be too formal!

Also, knowing what I know about my own perfectionist streak (not to mention the self-doubt demon) , if I were to decide to publish only my ‘best’ work I would never publish anything at all.

So my decision here is not to worry about whether what I write is the best it could be, and continue joining in with #prose4t where ever possible!

On juggling writing and blogging (and kids!)

There’s never enough time! What should I do?

Some people I heard from prioritise their blog, others their writing and some felt they were one and the same. I’ve also read about some great examples of carving out times in the day for writing (to make sure there is always time… or almost always) and the creation of physical writing spaces which help concentration.

I’ve already established I’m not going to give up blogging, but I can’t ignore the fact that it does distract me from my other writing. I think I need to carve out some time specifically for writing my book (and also a short story that I’ve been writing in three-sentence-bursts since December!)

So my plan – for this week – is to make time in every day for writing (specifically prose), and only when I’ve written for that long will I allow myself to blog (and associated tweeting/other blog reading/commenting). That way, the writing comes first. So, I’m going to plump for two hours a day, and two hours in total for the weekend (when my older kids are around during the day).

I’ve no idea how achievable that is. If the baby has a two hour nap on week days then it’s perfectly reasonable. If he plumps for half an hour (a length of time I can easily use up re-boiling the kettle five times to try and make myself a cup of tea while I sort out the washing mountain) it could be very difficult. It also depends on how he sleeps at night; after a bad night I sometimes crash-out during his nap time. Only one way to find out though!

Also, since I will be spending my ‘writing’ time writing prose, and because my blog has been a bit serious of late, I think I’ll try to use my blogging time to write a couple of limericks for #prose4T. My sons have been asking me to write more since the ‘wrinkly lion‘ one, so I’ll ask them to set me the topics.

I’ll report back in my next Writing Warriors post!

P.S Thanks to everyone who threw ideas my way this week!

wondering about writing

cropped-books.jpgThere’s new linky starting today over at Beautiful Misbehaviour and I’m really keen to join in. It’s called ‘Writing Warriors‘ and Stephanie has designed it to help people with writing goals support each other. Hopefully by sharing what we want to achieve and posting about how our ‘writing week’ has gone – and then reading and commenting on each others posts – we will all be more likely to succeed. Great idea!

I thought I’d use my first Writing Warriors post as an opportunity to reflect on where my own ‘writing journey’ (I’m wincing at the term, but it seems like the right one to use) has taken me this past year or so. I’ve been pondering various issues recently and maybe sharing them here will help me to sort them out.

I decided to dedicate some of my time to writing nearly a-year-and-a-half ago. My middle son had just started nursery school five mornings a week (and my third son was, as yet, unborn) so I suddenly found I had some time to myself in the morning. What better way to use these precious hours than to write? I started a blog to chart my progress but before I’d even published any of my posts, I decided that blogging would be a distraction. Instead I spent the following year just writing.

I wrote a whole mishmash of stuff: short stories mostly with some poetry flung in, and I also made a start on a book. I wrote about pregnancy, and when my third son was born I wrote about labour and birth just to get over the ridiculousness of it (I do not give birth easily!) Apart from one competition entry, I didn’t do anything with my writing. It’s all just sitting around on my hard-drive gathering dust/pixels/bytes/whatever the technological version of dust is.

Then September rolled round and I suddenly felt like re-starting my blog would be a good idea. I wasn’t quite sure why… maybe I wanted some company with my writing endeavours? Anyway, I decided to just go for it and see what happened and I quickly found myself loving it. I discovered the Prose for Thought linky over at Verily Victoria Vocalises and really enjoyed joining in with that community of writers, reading their work (by turns inspiring and intimidatingly good!) and getting feedback on mine. I also found Prose for Thought great for encouraging me to write something creative and ‘get it out there’ on a weekly basis rather than just squirrelling things away on my computer.

To begin with, putting my work on my blog took some courage (I was having a lot of visits from the nasty, squelchy, demon of self-doubt) but now I’m kind of used to it. The poems I write (they’re almost always poems, for some reason… even though I really want to write prose!) aren’t perfect by any means, but I figure that if I re-write them till they’re perfect I could be doing that till the proverbial cows come home.

But the problem is, I don’t have much free time (I have three kids and a baby who is with me all the time) and I’ve started to find that all my ‘writing time’ is being used up by blogging (and I don’t even post that often!) I almost never spend time on the book I’m attempting to write.

And I’m also wondering if publishing a poem that I’ve only just written that morning, on my blog every Thursday (to link with Prose for Thought) is really a good thing to do… I do wonder if I need to spend more time on quality control.

Plus, I’d really like to start submitting some work to competitions or publications, but I never seem to find the time to research what is out there (although thanks Stephanie for that list last week!)

So those are the issues I’m currently pondering, and I’d love feedback and/or suggestions from any other writers out there. Particularly:

  • How do you juggle writing and blogging? (I’m frankly in awe of some writer/bloggers out there!)
  • How important is blogging to you as a writer? Would you consider giving up blogging to give yourself more time to write? Or are they one and the same thing?
  • How useful has blogging been to you as a writer? Has it given you opportunities you wouldn’t have got otherwise?
  • Do you ever write something and quickly publish it on your blog, or do you only publish poems/prose that you’ve spent time perfecting?

This has been a rather rambling post. I’m normally more concise, but felt the need to write it all down this time!

I’m going to think through these issues this week and come up with some solid goals and some sort of plan for how to achieve them in time for next week’s linky!

I’m looking forward to reading the other Writing Warriors posts. Together we can all achieve our writing goals!

a year of writing

As I said in my last post, I may not have blogged, but I have been writing quite a lot in the last eleven months. I won’t go into all the details but I’ll note a few of the main things, just for the record.

Firstly, I wrote (or rather, re-wrote) a ghost story that I first thought up as a teenager. I’ve no idea where the original copy (from back then) is, I’ve just always had – in the back of my mind – the memory of it and the idea that it was worth a second go. It took ages to write (even though it’s only about 2000 words) and I’m still not satisfied with it. I was having real difficulty with building up enough suspense; I was aiming for ‘creeping dread’ but the story kept zipping along. It also started off as a first person narrative but I changed my mind and thought it would work better in the third person… and then decided I was wrong and had to change it back. If I’m honest it’s still more a work-in-progress than an actual finished story!

I also wrote a short story for kids. Children’s literature is a genre I have always loved reading, so I was keen to approach it from a writer’s perspective too. My story has a magical/ghostly theme and I really enjoyed writing it. The story unfolds from the point-of-view of a little boy and since I’m surrounded by those (as a mother of three sociable sons!) it was something I found quite easy to do.  I’m now planning on reading it to my older sons who are aged four and six. Although I think they may be a little young, I’m quite keen to see what they think.

Another fairly big milestone (for a complete novice) was that I entered a themed short story competition in Scribble Magazine. I didn’t get anywhere in the competition but I didn’t expect to –  I was just really pleased that I’d actually followed the project through.

The process of writing these three stories taught me a lot. I realised that there’s a huge difference between having an idea in my head, and in crafting it into a story that I’m willing to show to anyone else, let alone enter into a competition. I had a clear idea of what my ghost story was, of how it would start and end – and even most of the bits in the middle – but, as I’ve said, when it came to writing it down it was so hard to get right!

And then there’s the competition story: I wrote it fairly quickly but then I spent weeks and weeks tweeking it, deciding it was all wrong, re-writing it, re-tweeking it… and then eventually, with the end-of-November-deadline fast approaching I sent it off because I had to. I probably could have fiddled with it till the end of time.

So deadlines are helpful to me. Competitions are therefore probably a useful tool and I intend to enter more. The reason I haven’t so far is… well I think I’ll write more about that next time.

beginning

Well, I’ve decided on my – rather vague – grand plan, I’ve designed my blog and written my first post, but where do I begin with the actual fiction writing I intend to do? It’s easy enough to describe myself as an aspiring writer but how on earth do I get from there to anywhere close to ‘published author’? From where I am right now it seems like a massive hill to climb.

I’ve been doing a bit of online research about what it takes to get work published and the various ways a writer can go about it. There are all sorts of things I could try out: magazine article submissions, story competitions, sending unsolicited manuscripts to publishers (those that accept them), pitching editorial ideas to newspapers and magazines, self publication… the list goes on.

‘Lots of ways in, and things to have a go at, hooray!’, the optimist in me thought. But, at the same time, in all the research I did there were many warnings about rejection. Actually, they weren’t really ‘warnings’, just sensible statements of fact about rejection being something that all writers have to face. Repeatedly. ‘Hmmm, there are lots of ways to fail’, my pessimistic side jumped in to add.

Having said that, rejection – even the idea of repeated rejection – doesn’t really bother me at this stage: I’ve accepted it’s going to happen. Of course the experience of it will be far harder than my matter-of-fact acceptance of it now but, even so, it’s not at the root of my fears. No, what scares me most is the idea that I just might not be any good. What if I’m setting myself up for something that I could never hope to get anywhere with? What if I get rejected repeatedly not just because ‘that’s what happens’ and ‘it happens to every writer at some point’ but because I simply don’t have what it takes? That’s one big scary demon of self-doubt sitting in the corner there.

But ugly demons like that (I’m imagining it a kind of squelchy green colour and oozing pus) could stop me even before I’ve started and, really, the only way to find out if I’m any good at writing is to have a go at it: which brings me back to my initial question of ‘where do I begin?’

Well, I’ve decided to set myself some targets for the next few weeks and by stating them here I’m hoping I’m more likely to achieve them. So over the next few weeks I will:

a) Commit one of the short stories I’ve got in my head to paper.

and

b) Write something for a story competition. There seem to be lots of competitions out there so I need to sort through the likely ones and then take the plunge and enter.

Here goes!