I have been a sporadic, incosistent, erratic, wayward, distracted, and [add your synonym for unproductive here] writer for years. I have begun, and abandoned, many projects on many topics, in many genres. I have not seen one through to the point of completion, yet. I suspect that this is not an unfamiliar scenario for most of you. At one point, we were all unpublished, unrepresented, and uncertain.
One thing I keep reminding myself of is that right now is not forever. The current situation is not the way it will always be. That sounds like a positive frame of mind, but I've found that it isn't a particularly productive one. It's all fine and good to believe that success will come, but not blindly. The problem I've had, to this point, is that I keep hoping things will change...hoping for a different result, but not really looking at the root problem. Unless I change my writing habits, my writing fortunes will not improve.
Okay, now that I have come to that realization, what do I do about it? Well, in my day job, I am the Manager of Web Communications at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. I have a predisposition to look first to the Internet for answers. For the past several months, I have been finding other writers on places like Twitter and Facebook. I have been finding and reading blogs and other publications about writing. I have been slowly making writing a bigger part of my sphere of knowledge and of my routine.
I am also fortunate enough to work closely with--and count as a friend--the very talented and experienced crime writer, Gerry Boyle. He has always been (or at least pretended to be) interested in discussing writing with me, and it is from him that I have received the most tips about good writing habits. Set deadlines for yourself. Set aside writing time each day and make it sacrosanct. Set goals along the way. Don't edit while you write (that's a big one for me). Write!
Now I am armed with a little bit of knowledge (you know what they say about a little bit of knowledge, dontcha?), a mentor, and some new guidelines. The next thing I need is a support structure, a place--virtual or real--where writers congregate to share knowledge, experiences, and, most importantly, encouragement. Enter Red Room. I read about it in one of those aforementioned writing blogs, and came over to check it out. It looked like exactly what I need, and it also looked...engaging--like a place I want to participate.
So, here I am. I have been accepted as a member, set up my profile, joined my first group, and now I'm writing my first blog post. I'm not sure if all of these things will be the answer to my inconsistency. And if they are, do I even have the talent to get to that next level? We'll never know until I actually finish something. So, in the interest of finishing something, here is the plan:
- Choose one of my abandoned projects to resurrect (or, if I look and don't deem any of them worthy, start a new project)
- Write for at least one hour, five days a week (schedule to be determined--I have a 4-year-old daughter who likes to spoil plans and schedules)
- Finish a first-draft (80K +/- words) by October 2 (my father's 70th birthday, by the way)
- Stop and plan next steps
And I'm counting on all of you for encouragement, advice, and an occasional (gentle) kick in the pants. I know that the responsibility for success or failure lies entirely with me, but I'm sure I'll need all the help I can get...and along the way, if I can help any of you, don't hesitate to ask. I know that can sound trite, but I mean it. This is a community, which is a two-way street. I talk here about my project and my needs, but I will contribute and help out whenever I can.
So, thank you, Red Room (and all its members) for being here. Let's have some fun and get some writing done.
Up next: What will the project be?