‘Struggle to write’ certainly seems to sum up the last seven day’s activity quite nicely. As such, I can’t admit to success this week, but I have learnt a few things about myself and my approach to writing that I think are useful to remember. Firstly though, here’s how I did with my ‘to-do list’ for the week:
To-do List Review
January 14th – 20th
1. Complete first draft of NaNo #2 – I failed to complete this task. With the constant onslaught of the day job three days in a row, and then the attack of a nasty cold to follow I silently approved some much needed ‘sick leave’ to recuperate. I’ll probably have to remind myself where I left off to finish the draft of the novel in the approaching week, but I aim to have it done by the 27th.
2. Sketch out ideas for writing competitions identified – I haven’t really achieved this aim in full either. I have got the basis for one potential entry to a competition that has a particularly challenging theme for me: The 1st Playing Bingo Short Story Competition has to include the game of Bingo within it. But, having not played the game since my childhood, I struggled to think of any ideas that really drew my intrigue. Having researched the origins of this popular game however, I have an idea for one story that might encourage me to write an entry.
3. Convert NaNo #1 to readable pdf for first read-through – Finally, a task I did do this week! It’s converted and it sits in a file on my Nexus 7 with a few comments already added. I’ve read the first thirty pages and must have at least that many comments to remind me to stick to one consistent viewpoint, alter the timeline to ensure my main character is younger and questioning some of the motives of my narrator. This initial read-through could end up being peppered with commentary…
4. Write three blog posts – Having done no writing since the 14th (and even then I only managed 661 words!) I had nothing to show for my usual Saturday word count graph. Still recovering from the cold, and with plans for activities on the weekend, I decided not to post on Saturday as I felt I had very little to say.
5. Attend Sunday’s Writing Group meet – Thankfully, another completed task. Despite some travel issues I did manage to get to the CAKE Writer’s Circle meeting on Sunday 20th. It was a quiet meet, with only three of us initially – with two more who joined half way in – and we did a fun writing exercise: something I’ve not really done for a while. We all submitted ages, professions and a plot point into various piles and then had to pick out random ones on which to base a character. Then, we had a generous 10m to write a creative piece about said character. I have to say, I was impressed by the quality of writing – some excellent descriptive phrases were used and it made me realise that perhaps that is an area I should concentrate a little more on during my writing.
All in all, I’m a little disappointed with myself for failing to meet all of this week’s goals. But then, I did have a challenging week and sometimes we do have to cut ourselves some slack, otherwise we burn out very quickly.
Any time I might have been able to dedicate to writing the final chapters of the novel would have been second-rate, and I would only have been doing it out of duty. I think it’s important to think of writing not just as a pleasurable hobby, but also as work. It takes concentration, creativity and effort. Therefore if you aren’t capable of doing the work then it shouldn’t be forced; by doing so I’d lose some of the buzz I get from writing and be more likely to dismiss whatever I have written because I’m not functioning at a decent level. Everyone gets sick, and to plough on regardless has made me much more ill in the past, so lesson learned: if I’m not well, I need rest.
Having attended the Writing Meet I also recognised how much I miss out on not ‘socialising’ with other writers. It’s nice to be in an environment where other people are just as passionate about writing as you are – if not more so. Trying out short exercises allowed me to identify an element of my own approach to writing that could be improved. Certainly, listening to other’s work, I realised their differing styles and also how we all interpret the world differently. Having that time to spend on writing and sharing that work with other people was refreshing and I’m looking forward to going again.
It also reminded me of something that I’ve not done recently: reading short stories. If I’m going to be returning to this aspect of writing I think I’m going to need a reminder of how to say a lot within a short space and not turn all my ideas into novels! I’ve always struggled with this, but with the goal of 2013 to enter short story competitions I think it’s about time that I returned to reading them again.
So, now for the the week ahead; I already know two of the unmet goals will be going back on the list. But, what are the other things that I’d like to focus on this week?
January 21st – 27th
1. Complete first draft of NaNo #2
2. Write a first draft of a Short Story for the Bingo Competition
3. Read-through 30 pages of NaNo #1 and make initial comments
4. Write three blog posts
5. Read/analyse three short stories from different genres
Let’s hope I have a better week than the one just gone!