It’s been many months in between blogs, and in this time I’ve learnt some profound, life-changing lessons, which may forever transform the way that I write. Well, maybe for a month or two at least..
I’ve learnt that it’s possible to finish a writing project, and have discovered some fantastic resources to help stay on track to keep writing almost daily, such as The Write Practice, which sends snippets of writing goodness to your mailbox, and a very practical and easy to use book on outlining called Take off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker.
And although this may not work for everyone, the simplest motivator for me has been to work to a deadline – not an arbitrary one such as whether it’s possible to write a story in the time it takes to consume a family block of chocolate, but a deadline set by another human being, such as for a writing competition.
By focussing on getting that story finished in time to submit, there’s a real, time-based goal to work towards, and one that you know that other people are also working to – so it’s a goal which is humanly achievable (because if ten thousand other people can do it, then why can’t you?). Another great thing about competitions is that they usually come with a theme to write on, so you won’t be stuck for inspiration.
I’ve set a realistic goal of one short story a month for myself, which is reasonably achievable in between work, babies, and life. You might want to set a more ambitious goal for yourself, but whatever you want to work towards, a quick online search will give you more writing comps than you can throw a laptop at.
And there’s no need to be overly harsh on yourself about your literary prowess. You’re writing to finish here – who cares about winning? It’s reward enough to see your story to its end. Don’t worry about it looking, sounding and smelling (for a full sensory experience) like doggy doo, because a) you’re probably just being too hard on yourself, and b) there’s always someone out there who’ll be polite enough to give it a smiley face, or a thumbs up at least.
If anyone else uses competitions or any other form of coercion to finish your stories, I’d love to hear what works for you.