It is the New Near, 2020. A year where we expect many important events to take place, such as the Olympics. For those watching their favourite writers, perhaps a new release to enjoy reading before bed. Yet, for the writers reading this, we all have a fresh mindset to approach our writing.
Let’s talk about that.
Writing More and More
I am not one to make New Year's resolutions. While I can fully understand the need to set goals for oneself for each year, putting that kind of pressure on myself isn’t high on my to-do-list. Striving for improvement should be set at one's own pace, but I would be lying if I said you can’t set a time-frame on it.
With that being said, writing more is always the goal. On average I write around 7000 words a week. A thousand words a day at the bare minimum, which I always felt was a comfortable number. Writing should be enjoyed and not forced. That being said, I still find myself plagued with an anxiety of perfectionism, which keeps me from writing more.
I believe I spend the same amount of time sitting, staring at the words on my screen as I do writing. With that fact in mind, there is room for improvement and I doubt I am the only one out there with this problem.
I have always pushed writers to plan and approach there novel with a vague idea of what to write. Simply writing on the fly creates dead-ends or illogical writing that will have to be mostly re-written in the second draft. That is not an enjoyable experience. Still, there is a point between careful writing and reckless writing.
That is the point I plan to reach. For those wishing to write more each day, here it is in a nutshell.
Plan the direction and make your way towards it without fear. Don’t spend so much of your time finding the perfect sentence, because the moment you do you have stepped into a bear trap. Unable to move further, you are stuck freeing yourself from an expectation you feel you need to meet.
Nothing is perfect, which is why you as a possible perfectionist need to write. You can improve your writing in the second-draft, much like sanding rough furniture. Nevermind the bumps and scrapes until your finished building the chair.
I know, a mess of metaphors, but I am sure you get the idea.
Developing Your Writing Skills
While I strongly encourage a student to learn as much as they can, that is not what this is about. When I push myself and my students to develop their writing skills, it means they have all that they need, they just need to perfect their methods.
We as writers have an assortment of writing quirks, be it using a certain phrase or way of describing a scene or person. Somethings that are characteristic of us, those writing skills we need to develop. For many these are writing habits more than methods. These skills are messy and we don’t realise it.
My plan is to identify what makes my writing my own. What are the habits I have? What do I do differently? While nothing we do is entirely unique, these are still nontraditional or repetitive things we end up doing in our writing.
Once I identify this characteristic of my writing, I want to practice it. Creating a few paragraphs or writing a few short stories with the intention to use these habits effectively and efficiently. Thereby turning what I do unconsciously into something I do consciously. Turning a habit into a skill. Much like a student who doodles in class later becomes an artist in their adult life, I will take a skill and turn it into a fantastic writing asset.
Stop Checking the Word Count
A smaller goal of mine, but still an important one. It is so easy to jeopardise one's writing in order to meet a word count. For me, this happens to be cutting words from my writing. I feel that certain chapters should be shorter than others, which is simply nonsensical.
Perhaps this is a problem you also encounter, checking your word count constantly until you meet your daily quota. It is at this point that you are forcing your writing. The moment you lower your eyes to the bottom of the screen to see if you have written enough, you simply state you aren’t writing anything important.
Now, this does not apply to those writers who always have it easy writing and only check the word count to see how far they have come. A simple pat on the back in doing so, nothing wrong with it. However, if you feel a word count decides how much or how little you write, you are jeopardizing the quality of your writing.
Sometimes a scene will be short on its own and padding it will only ruin it. Sometimes it is the opposite, with some scenes or chapters in your novel being much longer than any other. I plan to write until there is nothing left to say, removing the word count bar from my writing software. I expect this to work well with my intention to write more fluidly, without pause.
If this is a problem you have as well, then by all means, train yourself not to look at the word count or dive into your software settings and have the counter removed if you can.
Finally, What to Read?
Finding the right novel to read is difficult, especially for a writer. A writer approaches a new novel somewhat semi-professionally. You still have the interests of a reader, but judgement of a writer. You analyse the story, compare it to many others. You read through the first few pages to get a feel, judging the writers way with words and whether you consider it to well-written at the start of the novel.
Unfortunately, this approach will never change. You lose the child-like wonder of a simple reader the moment you become a writer. Choosing a book as a writer is a lot like choosing a meal as a fussy eater. Still, there are some novels out there which I plan on approaching.
For me, I want to dive into science fiction and fully immerse myself in the complicated technologies and bizarre settings. Feel the fear of space and aliens, or enjoy the grittiness of something less sensational, yet equally thrilling. Peter Hamilton is one of those writers I have heard, but there are many classics I am considering as well.
Although, today I approach classics with a sense of caution. While I can respect that they earned their title of classic, very few interest me. I used to dive into classics growing up, believing that I would be in for a treat. Yet, was left disappointed. Now, I simply approach novels which catch my interest with their writing, not just their story.
In addition to that, when reading, I often feel a sense of nostalgia. There are certainly a few novels I will happily re-read in 2020. The Once and Future King, that’s for certain and some additions to series I thought finished long ago.
These are simple things which have been on my mind and the New Year Spirit is perfect for making these important parts of my writing. There is no time-frame for me, I don’t have to push to master these skills in 2020, yet I still plan on making them a part of my work.
As I said before, if you have the same problems I can recommend the solutions I provided. However, if you have other writing problems to be addressed or some worthy writing goals to mention, be sure to leave a comment below or perhaps join my writing group.
Happy New Year to every writer, wherever you are and as always…
Good day, good evening and happy writing!
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