Making myself write in order to make myself want to write

When I am busy, I crave time to write. I consciously carve out that time and protect it jealously. And when I do write, I am productive. While working, I was able to maintain three to four blogs, one of them updated daily, two others 2-3 times a week, and the fourth (this one) updated when I felt like it. In addition, I worked on my fiction, generally about once every two weeks in my time before critique group. I valued that time for my creativity, my expression, and made sure I could get that done. And my creative juices flowed.

I have been out of work since January. This blog has not been updated since September (though again, it was never on a regular schedule). My pet and personal finance blogs have been neglected. I am on complete hiatus from my 100 words a day blog. And as for my fiction, I have barely touched it. This despite the fact that I now have time, actual time, not a few stolen moments, to write.

I guess this is related to the same part of my brain that makes me a procrastinator. My brain works best when I have a deadline, when time is short. It fuels the adrenaline, which in turn gives me the creative energy I need to put words on paper. It creates the conundrum that when I have no time to write, I have so much I want to say. And when I have all the time I could ask for, I feel strangely silent.

This does not make me happy. I love writing. Writing makes me happy, whether it is fiction or blog posts. I always feel better when I have written something, anything. And so, I am trying to make myself change. I am trying to set myself a schedule, and that schedule will include writing time. It will not matter to me what I write, just that I write.

I am hoping that making a schedule will help me find the creative energy to write, and that writing will make me feel more productive and add to my desire to have a schedule and get things done. It is a circle that should feed itself.

And with any luck, I’ll get a job soon, too.


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2013 Writing Goals

I have two writing goals for this year. They are both very ambitious, but also very doable.

 

The first is to complete the first draft of the novella I’ve been working on. The key to this is letting it be a complete first draft. I often like to go back and edit as I go, which means I spend forever on whatever scenes I’ve been working on, but never actually get a complete longer work completed. Simply having the entire thing written, no matter how much editing needs to be done, will be a major accomplishment for me not matter what.

That doesn’t mean I won’t go back and edit as I go along. I have already gone back and rewritten the opening scenes, but now I’m at the point where I am making myself simply continue the story. I know some of what I am writing does not quite mesh with earlier scenes because I’ve changed my mind, but that can all be fixed in future drafts. The key for me this year is to get the first draft completed.

 

My second goal for the year is to submit at least one of my shorter pieces to a paying venue every month. I’ve written a lot of short stories, and while many need some kind of cleanup, getting the short pieces ready to send out is not that difficult.

The harder part of this goal is finding places to submit my work too. It can be hard enough just to find places that you can submit your work to, let alone markets that are actually right for your work. Luckily for me, there is Duotrope.com.

Duotrope is a site where magazines and anthologies list their calls for fiction and poetry. I can sort by genre, length of story, or by how much the publication is paying. Duotrope also shows me contests (generally means you have to pay to submit, but the prize money, if you place, is pretty good).

It is a huge boon to me. Instead of trying random web searches, I have one place to go where I can look at the calls for pieces and find the right market for what I have already written, or perhaps be inspired to write something new.

When I first discovered Duotrope, it was free. As of this year, it does require a subscription fee from writers. I decided the one year subscription was worth it for me because, if I’d paid money to have access, I was more likely to use it.

 

So far, I am making progress on both goals. In the novella, I finally have my characters in the jungle and only one step away from the heart of the story. As far as short stories, I have submitted in November, December, January, and for February, I have submitted to a non-paying venue, a paying venue, and two very short flash pieces to a contest.

It is kind of hard on the ego, though. The pieces I submitted in December and January have received rejections. (What was hard is that both rejections came in the same week.)

But surviving rejections and submitting again is a rite of passage all writers must go through, or at least that’s what I am telling myself.


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