Pursuing Your Dream

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What does it take to pursuit your dream?

Passion

Perseverance

Pain

All of the above?

Is it more than just hard work?

I listened to a webinar today from Jennifer Blanchard. She spoke about what happens after you write your first draft. The information covered the editing process all the way through publishing. She even gave possible timelines.

For me it was a reality check.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I began this pursuit of my writing dream. I don’t think I quite believed the length of time it would take for others to take notice of my writing. I don’t even think I knew what it would take to write an entire novel.

When people talk about the one novel a year for this author or many years for that person, I think I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that mine would be different. That I would be the one to beat the odds.

It may be me, someday. However there are some things that are in the way of my own success:

I need to finish my novel. I’ve finished one, that in my rewriting process has turned into three and I am only about 1/3 of the way through the first one.

I need to send in my work. Since I also write flash fiction, there is a possibility for publication but I would need to submit work.

I need to edit my work. I’m pretty sure I have tried to convince myself that my work doesn’t need editing. I know it’s not true but I can dream and still not get my editing done.

I also need to keep writing. Before this week I would have said no problem. Not now. This week has been challenging to keep going, though I continue to write.

Everyone has their own path to their dream. My own path is not without its pitfalls and dark places. However, there is plenty of light for my way. I will persevere.

How are you pursuing your dreams?

Opportunities and Updates

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A few years ago, just when ebooks were becoming popular and book stores were closing in droves, people talked about the difficulties of writing and making a living. The opportunities were drying up. Things were changing and it didn’t look good.

Fast forward those few years and, it seems to me that there has been an explosion in opportunities for writers. As long as you are willing to cut your own path that is.

While traditional publishing is still viable (at least I hope so when my book is ready), there are many other options. E-publishing has grown exponentially as well as self-publishing. Each of these paths comes with their own strengths and weaknesses.

The message I have been hearing over and over is that each writer must be prepared to be their own salesperson. Regardless of the chosen path, if you want your words to sell, it is up to you.

There is help for this. Writing blogs and social media are a huge help as well as just getting out there and meeting people face to face. Community has probably never been more important than it is right now. The networking opportunities within different groups both online and off are a goldmine for getting the word out about your work.

It is not longer just about the writing. Competition is fierce and yet, here I am, writing. I’m grateful to be here at this time. It is exciting to see where this world of writing is going. As long as I am willing to work for it, my success depends on me.

How do you see the opportunities for success in writing today?

Update

I am just past the second full week of my dual challenge and I have to say, I am doing well.

The blogging challenge has been eye-opening and fun. I’m pleasantly surprised by the fact that I’ve been able to keep up. Its been fun coming up with different ideas for each day. Note to self: plan a theme next year and think of these things ahead of time. I have discovered it is a bit of pressure if I don’t have an idea and I need to get things done for posting.

Camp NaNoWriMo is still going, though not as strongly as before. This has been a slow week though I am nearly three-quarters of the way to my goal. Between work and my “regular” life, it has been difficult to find the energy to write. I’m still on track to complete the challenge, though I’d hoped that I would have gotten more of my novel done. We’ll see how the end of the month works out.

Necessary Things

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Writing is one of those tasks that doesn’t require a lot of things. A pen, some paper and you are a writer. Pretty simple.

Well, not really, if you are anything like me.

If any of you are like me, office supply stores are some of your favorite places in the world. After all one cannot have too many pens of just the right weight and color. Supplies such as post its, post cards, pens, pencils, journals, etc., rank right up there with books. More is better.

Some of my favorite things are my gold Picaso fountain pen with purple ink. I begin each day with morning pages using this pen. I also like composition books for this type of writing. I have sticky notes of all shapes and sizes, paper clips, sticky flags, purple post cards – all within arms reach. Of course, I am currently working on my Macbook Air which I couldn’t do without. These things are necessary for my creativity.

I have other things that help with my creative life. I have various small gifts from friends sitting on my desk. A metal compass to help me keep my direction, a jack to remind me that balance is important, and a amethyst crystal to keep my thinking clear. All of these are necessary as they remind of my journey and to encourage me to keep going. Not to mention a candle to light my way.

What are the necessary things for your writing life?

Moderation

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Today’s subject, Moderation, is a difficult one at best. But it is so necessary for writers.

On those days when the writing is going well, you know the ones I mean, word after word flows out of your fingers and onto the page, its easy to sit for hours. Those are the days writers long for. Before you know it, 2000, 3000, 4000 plus words have been written. Those hours sitting at the computer are all worth it.

Or are they?

There are a few things in my life that I miss when I spend this much time with my writing.

Mostly it has to do with chores, laundry, cooking dinner, exercise and most importantly, relationships. It is easy for me to stay focused on whatever project I have going. These things can only be neglected for so long.

Another drawback to spending that much time with the words are injuries. When I worked on NaNoWriMo in November I struggled with pain in my hands from so much typing. Repetitive stress injuries are common with writers. I was glad when I was able to finish and my hands have healed.

For me the answer is Moderation.

The answer is in the word counts. Though I don’t write as many words each day, I do write daily. My focus is on a minimum of 500 words. Though I often go higher, I take a break. Do some of the other things I would miss, like go for a walk or meditate.

There are several authors who have a word count minimum for the day. Hemingway wrote between 500 and 1000 words each day. Another piece of advice I’ve recently read (Vincent Mars) stated that 500 is the minimum with 2000 being the maximum. Sounds like good advice.

Taking care of ourselves can ensure a long writing career.

How do you keep yourself healthy so you can do those things you want to do?

Lots of Words

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As a continuation of my theme of necessary things for writers, I give you the following quote:

“Start early and work hard. A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” David Eddings

This is something I have had in the back of my mind since I began to take my writing seriously. The more words, the better I am at writing. I think I started too late.

As I sit down to write my only goal is to get the words on paper. There are times when I have to remind myself that shitty first drafts (thanks Anne Lamott) are a necessary part to writing. It isn’t about writing a masterpiece the moment you have a blank page in front of you.

“Read a lot; write a lot.” This advice comes from Stephen King in On Writing. These words are also in the back of my mind especially when I’ve gone a few days without reading something. I write every day and try to read everyday. I must confess when I run out of time it is my reading that suffers. In the days before the internet and all of the writing courses, people learned to write by reading others. This is still necessary.

Writing involves sitting down and putting one word in front of another word until the page is full. That is all there is to it. It is the irritatingly the most simple and yet the most difficult thing that I do each day. I am still working on my million words.

Where are you on this million plus word journey?

Kindness

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For this week of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge I’ve decided to work on a theme – What Every Writer Needs. Each day’s blog post will be something that has been important to my writing journey which I believe will be helpful to others. Today’s word is kindness.

Writing can be a difficult life. Harshness can make it even that much more difficult. It takes courage to put our words out there for the world to see. Kindness can make it a bit less painful.

I’ve belonged to a writing group for several years. It is a critiquing group and has been one of the most rewarding experiences. That is not to say that it has always been easy. There are times when a critique has been quite difficult to hear. The good thing about this is that this group always looks for the positive in a piece first before any criticism is offered. Any critique is focused on the work not on the writer. Though it is difficult not to take personally, for the most part it isn’t meant that way. This is a kindness.

By kindness I don’t mean gushing praise for a mediocre piece. Kindness means using words in a positive way to bring about change for the writer and the writing. This is what we all want. We want our work to be looked at critically and be given options to make our work better. After all we are all on the same road even though we take different paths.

What ways have you experienced kindness as a writer?

Journaling Rituals

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I journal everyday or nearly so. This is writing I do outside of my novels or flash fiction. I am able to stay clear headed and focused to be able to write everything else through this writing.

Mornings come early for me, 5:00 am. If I can get up without hitting snooze I count that as a win but it doesn’t happen often. After a few snoozes and taking care of basic needs I head to the kitchen for coffee. This is part of my morning ritual as making coffee is a bit involved and takes 10 to 15 minutes. It is also during this time that I do a few morning chores, just to keep up.

Once my coffee is made and perfectly sweetened, I head to my desk to begin the writing ritual.

I light a candle. This, for me, lets me know its time to focus. I then read a section of whatever book I am currently working on. Right now its this one found on Amazon.  Once my reading is done, then I begin with my journaling.

I’ve told you about free writing in this previous post but that is basically what I do. For this writing I use inexpensive composition books and fountain pens with purple ink. I am pretty sure I have stacks of these books in storage.

When I’ve completed my pages and I aim for about three each day, I blow out my candle.

Writing this way doesn’t produce stories or work toward my novels. This creates for me a space where I can clear the junk out, making the way clear for the words to flow for whatever I am working on at the moment.

Just a warning, it doesn’t always work to get the flow going but more often than not, it does.

What do you do when you want to get your creative juices going?

Ice Cream and Updates

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As I sit here with a bowl of triple peanut butter ice cream, I’m pondering the challenges I’ve set for myself.

Its official, we are 10 days into a double challenge and I think it is time for an update on progress and what I’ve learned so far.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to complete these two challenges, I need to continue getting up early in the morning. It gets difficult when I find myself exhausted and unable to sleep at night – 5:00 am comes so early.

I am also reminded that I enjoy this process. I mean the drive of the challenge. Nothing lights a fire under me like deciding to set a goal or two and then telling people about it.

There is lots of advice rolling around the inter web about writing and a million how-to’s to go with it. One that I’ve been reading a lot lately is to show up and write, to not wait for the muse to begin writing. That is never more important than when one is in the middle of a double challenge. It is definitely a must if I am going to complete these challenges.

I’ve also hit the dreaded second week of the challenge. In November 2014 I began NaNoWriMo and heard about the swing that often comes during the second week of the challenge. This is where the words slow down and often stop. The weight of the 50000 words seems to crush some people and they can’t continue. I didn’t really experience it then, however, I have now. Writing a blog post each day is more difficult and I struggled with my novel. I’ve still hit my goals but there have been times where I’ve fought for each word.

For the official update:

I’ve managed to complete blog posts to this point. I’ve even really liked a few of them. I’ve also been visiting blogs from the other challengers. Its been wonderful to see all of the different ideas for the same letters. Amazing. I’ve also enjoyed all of the comments I’m getting. Thanks to everyone who has visited and left a note of encouragement.

I’m nearly half way to my goal of 20000 words on my novel. I’m even excited about where it is going. Again not all the writing is fabulous but some of it is really good. I’m excited to see where the rest of the month takes me.

One of the best things about these challenges are the things I learn about myself and my writing process. I’m looking forward to the rest of the month, though I will grudgingly get up each morning to do so. As long as I have enough coffee I can do anything.

What have you learned about yourself this week or during this challenge?

Keeping up with the House

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It’s happening again. I’m in the middle of a challenge and everything else goes out the window, including house work.

One of the ways I cope with this is to compartmentalize the work. Do the floors have to be washed and moped? Do I really need to clean the bathroom from top to bottom? Can anyone else help with things?

The answers are no, no and YES!

I’ve decided there isn’t a good reason for everything to fall onto my shoulders during this (or any other) time. There are other people living in my house and can take some responsibility. Of course, they must be made to see reason or I won’t get any help after all.

Another choice I’ve made is that not everything has to be done all at once. Little by little is what works best.

The minimum of what I can get away with is my goal. That means sweeping up the big chunks – it is spring here after all. Wiping down the sink and toilet until I have more time and dishes. I work at the laundry little by little anyway so it doesn’t really pile up. I hate it when Saturdays become laundry days.

When April is over, or any month that is extra busy, I will go back and deep clean. But for now, supper is on your own, mostly. Pick up here and there. I’ll be at my desk, writing. After all, priorities are a must.

How do you handle the rest of your life when things get busy?

Gas or Lack Thereof

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I’ve run out of gas. Previously, I’ve spoken of blogging not being for wimps in this post. Turns out I was more right than I thought. It takes a lot of energy to post six times each week.

It also takes energy to keep going. Getting up each morning to write takes energy. Working at non-writing tasks takes energy. Housework and relationships all take energy. If a person isn’t careful, running on empty is a large possibility.

There are few things I am willing to give up so I need to work at keeping my tank full. When I speak to my clients about this I am talking about self-care. You know, taking care of yourself. Doing things just for yourself which women are loath to do. Sometimes men too.

When I talk about self care, it is more than just basic care. It is taking time to watch ‘Buffy’ reruns and taking a 20 minute bath – all alone in the bathroom, going shopping and only buying for yourself. Its getting a mani-pedi with good friends or taking in a movie, just because. Its spending alone time with your favorite book. Anything to feed yourself.

I’m usually pretty good at taking care of myself. I try not to overload any one part of my life. Even then, I’m tired. It just happens.

Its time to take care of me in any way that feels good to me. I think, for now, that is getting some sleep.

What do you do to take care of yourself and recharge?