Weekly Musing: Score goal(s) and Command Thyself!

Each Saturday it is my hope to post an entry called Weekly Musing. In those posts, I want to discuss some topic that has been bubbling inside me. In trying to come up with this week’s musing, I struggled to find such a topic. This despite the fact I have a list of about 42 topics to choose from but none of them jumped out at me. I was in the process of updating my goal list for the next 5 years when I realized that could be a source of discussion as well as a list of commandments I’ve given myself.

Before I started writing, I never believed in 5 year plans. That always struck me as something born from a corporate culture. Something your manager asks you at your yearly performance evaluation or in an interview. But I reconsidered that position last year and constructed a 5 year plan. It is a fluid document and indeed it has changed and evolved greatly from the first draft. I believe I must have amended the goals for 2012 at least 10 times before the end of the year.

I was looking at it the other day and realized several of my priorities have changed. The more I learn and grow as a writer, the more I let a whim or thought dictate my work, the greater the need to revise my goals. Many of the goals repeat themselves over all 5 years: keep learning, complete rough draft of Project X, revise draft of Project Y, start research for Project Z, attend conferences/workshops, etc. The most important one of my goals, though, is to KEEP LEARNING. A theme I have read and heard about time and time again, even from established authors about to come out with their umpteenth book. It’s a good thing I genuinely enjoy learning because if I didn’t, the thought of evolving as a writer might be off-putting.

My goals for this year are simple: join the local writers group (done), start attending the local chapter of the PNWA (done), revise a story that has been a thorn in my side for over a year (thankfully done!), workout an outline for a possible novel (done), continue research for my book set in early 15th century Wales (work in progress), do an outline for said 15th century Wales book (not done), and as a way to torture myself, participate in NaNoWriMo and spend the entire month of November producing what will probably be a horrendously crappy rough draft of said Wales book.

Subsequent years I have a lot of goals revolving around drafting, researching, revising, outlining, and, fingers crossed, publishing my work. But in an effort to not overwhelm myself, I’ve scheduled looking into publishing to at least 2015. Personally I feel I’m not ready to look into the business side of writing. I’d rather just concentrate on learning and getting better.

Now for the list of commandments I came up for myself last year. I originally started off with 10. Seemed to be a good historically sound jumping off point, but it has blossomed into 12 commandments. The idea for these commandments arose from nuggets of advice picked up from a variety of sources. Some I actually came up with on my own. My list of commandments are as follows:

1) I shall write to express, not impress.
2) I shall write the rough draft with the door closed but will keep the door open for revisions.
3) I shall trust my instincts.
4) I shall not get bogged down in negative thoughts about my talent.
5) I shall write for the sake of writing, not for money or fame (although the money wouldn’t be that bad to have).
6) I shall not be discouraged by negative reactions to my work. Not everyone is going to like what I write. I certainly don’t like everything I read.
7) I shall realize that not every idea will work and need to realize when to just let a piece go.
8) I shall have my own work schedule and timeline and will not allow myself to feel like I am behind.
9) I shall have patience with myself (by far the hardest commandment!).
10) I shall not compare myself to others. I have my own voice and perspective to share with the world.
11) I shall not fear nor feel shame in my ideas and how I choose to express those ideas.
12) I shall write with LOVE.


Weekly Musing: Ms. Wannabeawriter or How I Got the Writing Bug

It took me until I turned 30 to realize my whole life I had been creating stories. In my head anyway, although occasionally I’d commit the idea to paper thinking someone else should write it. Obviously it took several years for it to dawn on me that if I wanted to read the story, perhaps I  should write it. What a novel concept. And with any luck, someone else might actually enjoy the story, too.

I started slow, just scratching bits of dialogue and story in a notebook during my lunch hours just as a way to kill some time. But as the days turned into weeks, I started thinking more heavily about the story. Plot, characters, and settings happily invaded my thoughts during my dull, mind-numbing work day and at night before I fell asleep which did cause me to lose sleep because I was too excited.

I picked up a couple of books, Writing Brave & Free and The Art of War for Writers, and read them. It was a comfort reading that the biggest obstacle for people wanting to write was fear. If I could get over that fear, fear what I wrote would be terrible, fear of what family, friends, strangers would think of a piece, I would be jumping over a hurdle most who desire to write never cross. These books as well as the highly-regarded On Writing by Stephen King, taught me to be prepared for a lot of work, a lot of tears, a lot of rejection, but a lot of joy in creating something. And it was that desire to create something, a creative outlet, that spoke the most to me. Everyone needs a creative outlet; art, music, writing, crafts, photography, cooking, dancing, whatever allows a person to express themselves. The product doesn’t have to be shared with others but whatever is the end result needs to be a shared connection between the creator and the creation.

Writing created a life epiphany. For the first time in my life, something fit. I had a reason to wake up in the morning. I had a reason to want to live as long as possible. I had fire and passion. I finally understood how people who do with they love, felt. That’s why they are so happy! I have too many stories inside to keep locked away in some box within my mind. Only I have the key to unlock it.

The more I gobbled up resources and information about becoming a writer, the more I saw myself. Thoughts and behaviors I had long surmised made me crazy or odd or weird. For goodness sake’s, I always heard at least one other person who wasn’t me, speaking to me. Guiding me to a world that wasn’t mine. And they usually brought friends and enemies. This, I learned and later had confirmed by my therapist, does not make me crazy; it makes a writer. It also meant I had a creative side I had stuffed into a locker but she was knocking loudly, had always been there, waiting for me to unleash her.