Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Category Archives: goals

How To Keep Your Resolution

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that one of your resolutions for the new year is “write more.”

If you’re a human being living in the year 2008, chances are you’re already behind on your resolution.

So here’s a few tips to help you keep your resolution:

* Be more specific. Don’t just say “write more.” Say, “Finish ‘A Time To Remember To Kill'” or “Write the novel about my father-figure hero in the fantasy universe.”

* Break your resolution into mini-goals. Mini-goals are much easier to keep than big year-long resolutions. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to write a novel this year,” and then put it off ’til March, June, November, and then you’re reduced to, “I resolve to resolve to write a novel next year.” Break down your novel into defining your story, building your world, creating your characters, sketching your plot, outlining the novel, writing the first draft, editing the first draft, sending the edited MS out for critique, incorporating feedback and revision. If you set a small timeframe for each of those, then by April or May you should be well into a first draft, and the goal will be much more attainable. (This is the lesson learned from NaNoWriMo.)

* Track your progress. If you tend to let things slide, keep a spreadsheet or check off writing time on your calendar. Write down every day the number of hours spent writing. Then, when you get a whole week of zeroes, you notice it immediately and can tell yourself to buckle down, instead of having the vague feeling that it’s been a while since you touched your outline and maybe you should get to it next week when the kids are back in school and that report at work is done…

* Use technology. Google Docs allows you to store your documents online to access from anywhere. Yahoo and Google and many others have online calendars: send yourself e-mail reminders to do writing.

* Enlist someone’s help. Whether a supportive spouse or a writing buddy, have someone you can check in with to help keep you on track with your goal. Another person can not only help remind you to keep going, they become invested in your goal to a certain extent, so that when you meet it, you make them proud as well as making yourself proud.

If you have any other ideas, toss ’em into the comments, and let’s get writing!

A Bi-Annual Tradition Coming To An End

This will be the last time I read the entire Harry Potter series with the wonderful anticipation of another installment coming at the end of it. Ever since “Goblet of Fire” came out in 2000, I’ve prepared for each new release in the series by reading all the preceding books, to be completely caught up.

It’s not just completism, though. The journey of rediscovery is such a joy with these books that I actually look forward to reading them all again, and I’m certain that even after book 7 comes out, I will do so from time to time. The excitement I felt at embarking back on book 1, and rediscovering the world of wizardry along with Harry for the first time, really surprised me this time around. I popped in the first CD of book 1 yesterday and couldn’t help but grin.

That’s what we’re all working towards, isn’t it? That’s what we’re aspiring to: a story that people will think of fondly, will perhaps re-read to recapture the same excitement it gave them last time they read it, a story that will bring a smile to people’s faces, or perhaps a tear to their eye, that will do it in such a genuine, heartfelt way that they will spend billions of dollars making you the richest woman in England. Whoops. Sorry, lost sight for a moment. But you get the idea: I want to write a book about which someone will write, ten years down the road, “I still pull it down and read it, and when I open the cover and turn to the first page, I’m already smiling.”

If I do that, I will be happy with my work. Thanks, and congratulations, Ms. Rowling. I’m off to rediscover your world.