I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions. Well, I do, but they’re usually jokey ones like ‘give up smoking’ (the joke being that I have never smoked and therefore will keep the resolution without even trying – you know like when people say ‘give up sky diving’ etc) .
Many of you may remember I made a difficult decision after suffering my first bout of writers block. So this year I have set myself some goals.
In no particular order, here is what I have decided on:
Join a writing group
This one has been on my mind for a while. I have been unable to attend a physical writing group for some time due to many factors such as money an familial responsibilities. This year, I’m going to make an effort to attend one.
Write at least one short story/flash fiction a month:
This is a resolution carried over from my Creative Summer. It was important because I had never written a short story before. At the advice of an old friend, I wrote the kind of stuff I enjoyed reading – epic, sprawling stories with ever expanding worlds and a plethora of characters and winding sub plots. Forcing myself out of my comfort zone and focusing on the basic elements of story telling really helped so I intend to carry this forward.
Enter more competitions:
When I was ten, the schools in my local area hosted a writing competition for students aged 10-18. The prize was £50. I entered and I won. Prior to my Creative Summer I had not entered one since. I’m not sure why. I guess I have been so focused on my writing projects, fearing distraction, that I have shied from them. Over the summer I entered three. I didn’t win but I learned a lot, so I intend to keep this going throughout the year. It will tie in nicely with my aim to produce one short story a month too!
I had already been working my way to self publishing Lexus (most likely on Amazon). In the months leading up to Christmas I had a good look at the story. I had been limited by the novella word count limit of the SWP2016 and so there were scenes and characters that could have done with a little more pizazz. Now I have that chance to make Lexus something better.
Keep a writing journal
This one is a little odd for me because in a way I do keep a writing journal. Every project I work on gets a notebook:
When I need to figure things out, I sit and think and plot ideas as I think them. However, this isn’t something I do every day. To help with the creative flow I will aim to keep a writers journal to chart my creative journey. Writing down insights that have nothing to do with projects I am working on could lead to new projects and it’s also a way for me to document my personal struggles so that I may draw on them for future or current projects. My aim is write whatever comes into my head. I even got given a gorgeous notebook to write in for Christmas:
I was itching to write in it the moment I unwrapped in it so this is a good start!
A very obvious and common one I know but I have noticed that over the years I have really cut back on my reading. The reason? I’ve been trying to keep myself focused on writing. This is a tremendous shame because reading is a great way to recharge my creativity and improve my writing skills, so on top of attending to the Jukepop reading party every month I have set myself the target of reading at least one book a month – starting with Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I have more or less all of his books on my reading list (which gets bigger and bigger each day – currently there are 300+ books of all genres (including graphic novels). Yeah that’s going to take some getting through. I’m not sure I’ll manage it in a year but I’ll have a damn good stab at it. My list includes titles from the likes of Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Dean Kootz, Bill Bryson, Stephen Baxter, and Ursula LeGuin. I’m hoping to read work from lesser known authors too. I’m even hoping to start reading some super hero comics. As you can see my taste is somewhat broad and I intend to expand it further.
Get out of my writing comfort zone
When I started writing short stories during my Creative Summer I was not so much pushed out of my writing comfort zone as drop kicked out of it. I had never written a short story before. Was it possible to tell a story in 3000 words or less? Or how about 1000? Or 300? Some of the word count limits in the competitions were really daunting. Nonetheless I sat down and I worked on my idea. The first short story I wrote was about 5000 words. The competition it was intended for only allowed 3500. So I looked at it, cut parts out, read some short stories to see how they managed to get vital details across and went at it again and again until finally I had shaved it down to 3150. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. Better still, I applied what I had learned to Lexus and experimented with exposition and wound up in the SWP2015 top ten!
With that in mind, I am determined to keep trying things that make me uncomfortable and unsure. At the time of writing this, I reached another milestone. I wrote my first 100 word flash fiction and I am working on a new project where I experiment with a different narrative style (more on that later).
So there you have it! My New Years Resolutions!
Has anyone else made any resolutions? Feel free to write a comment either on what you think of mine or what yours are. Also can anyone recommend any good books or comics?