Monday, 1 January 2018

Hello 2018 - Come In And Shut The Door



Hello friends, I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

There's something exciting about welcoming in the new year don't you think? A chance to start over with new hopes and dreams, and a fresh start.

 I love setting goals - Don't you?

This year my goals are sort of similar to last year, but also very different. Let me explain.

The Novel

Early last year I discovered what I'd suspected for a while, but had struggled to admit. I was drowning and needed major help, my novel wasn't working, BUT, I wouldn't give up on it! I couldn't, even though it was making me miserable. I'd get up early every weekday morning, and rewrite chapter after chapter, before I went to work, knowing full well it wasn't right.

I needed help, but honestly didn't know what sort of help I needed. I'd tried the usual things writers do when they know something isn't right. I'd taken it to my writing group, re-wrote it here and there, changed this and that, but nothing helped. In fact things got worse.

I'd looked at personal mentoring years ago and dismissed it, but now I was desperate to get back to feeling good about my writing again. I wanted to finish the darn novel! And anyway, I'd tried personal fitness training in 2016 to help me get fit after a back injury, and that had worked wonders, so maybe a professional writing mentor's take on matters was what I needed.  I signed up for RedPen Mentoring  and after a lengthy talk with my mentor, Anne Rainbow, I realised I needed her help and I needed time to think.

What happened next? I took my mentor's advice and put the novel aside, although I gasped when she first suggested it, I'll be honest, it felt like I'd been punched in the gut!  What was she thinking? I'd come to her for help to get it finished, and she was telling me to put it aside. I needed to sit down in a darkened room with a gin and tonic. Twenty four hours later I did it. Just like that - I was paying for my mentor's advice. I needed to take it.

I made a new plan under Anne's guidance. I did this and that, and you could say I went on a journey of sorts. I did not look at, or work on my novel for almost six months. Instead I did lots of other writerly stuff including The Artists Way challenge - a 12 week course on discovering and recovering your creative self. I can recommend it, and you can read all about it here and you can buy the book here and no I'm not on commission. It was a healing experience. If you're starting 2018 a little lost, take a look. It's not just for writers either.

Slowly, things began to happen. I started to think about my novel again, but this time, it was in the background, slowly coming forward to the front of my mind. I started to think about structure, and about the story, and the characters. And I started asking myself lots of questions. I told Anne I was ready to re-write my story.

Looking back now, I'd known for a long time third person wasn't working. A voice in my head kept telling me, 'try it in first person', but the thought of a rewrite made me feel positively ill. I wasn't ready for a BIG scary journey like that! Not then. But I am now.

I explored the idea by writing a chapter to get a feel for it, back in November, and when I read it afterwards, I knew it was what I had to do this year. Yes, it's a mammoth task, as you can imagine, lots will have to change. There will be implications throughout the story. It's got to be done though, so that's my aim and I've set myself a target - I want it rewritten by June 30th 2018 so that I can move onto the next stage and get it out into the world by the end of November.

Non Fiction Project 

It's good to collaborate, I'm doing it this year. Last year I wanted to try my hand at articles, it didn't happen exactly as I planned. Instead it morphed into something else, and in the last quarter of 2017, a casual throw away conversation with fellow writing buddy Wayne Kelly  ending with, 'we should write a book about that' has led us to collaborate together. Details soon to be revealed. We'd like to publish in September this year.

Writers Workshop

Sometimes it's good to stick your neck out and do something different, and that's exactly what happened in November last year when another writing buddy - Keith Large  and I facilitated our first Script Aloud Workshop.  We both enjoyed it, as did the participants and it's something I definitely want to do again this year. It's early days but it would feel good to have another two workshops under my belt before the end of the year.

Blogging 

Ah yes, it's a fact I've badly neglected this blog. You can see why now though can't you? It'll be rectified this year, and I may change the frequency of when I blog too, I might go to a fortnightly blog, but hey every two weeks is better than not to blog for weeks or months isn't it?

I enjoy blogging and interacting with you guys, and maybe I got side tracked or perhaps I got lazy, or confused in what I thought was the right content. Things are going to change, I'll be experimenting, and I'm not afraid to change things back if they don't work, or try something else instead. There's no shame in trying, and if it works out it'll make the blog more interesting and if it doesn't then a mistake is only a mistake if you don't learn from it, isn't it?

Okay, so this has been a long post about my writing goals and my plans for the year ahead. And although I love to write, I've made other plans outside of writing too, which I'll share with you next time.

Please do share your writing goals with me in the comments, or any other goals you've set yourself this year.


15 comments:

  1. Sometimes it takes another person to tell us what we already know - but, I agree, big changes are scary, and not writing is scary!

    It's good to hear you'll be blogging more regularly too :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Annalisa, thank you for your comment.
      I'm focused, and ready, and I have a plan, but as we all know real life sometimes gets in the way.
      Happy New Year to you.

      Delete
  2. A great, positive post Maria, your plans for the New Year sound excellent. And well done on stopping your novel and changing things, I hope you enjoy rewriting it in the first person. I've been half thinking about starting a writing blog. Still considering it, but I'm not sure right now. Anyway, I hope you have a happy and successful 2018, I shall look forward to following your journey throughout. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CJ, what's stopping you starting a writing blog? I'd be interested in knowing, and thank you for your kind words.

      Delete
    2. I think partly the time, and partly knowing what to write. I'm worried it could be a millstone after the first flush of enthusiasm. But now you've actually asked me... I'm thinking about it again. Partly I feel that I don't really have anything helpful to offer - I'm not an experienced or successful writer, so do I have anything to contribute? I'd feel like a bit of a fraud I think. I guess I would have to do it in the form of someone who is learning as they go along and share what I pick up and try and be a bit motivational. Hmm. You have me considering it again now! CJ xx

      Delete
    3. Why don't you write a few test posts. no need to post them or anything, just get a few written. Introduce yourself, share with us the journey you're going to take yourself on...and remember, a blog doesn't have to be every week. Set the rules at the beginning.
      You have such a successful blog just being you, with your family and your photographs. Such a good idea to record your family days etc and what you did when they were small.

      I feel sure you'll find the way forward with a writing blog, but first you have to pick up the pen.

      Delete
    4. Thanks Maria, very sound advice. I think I will, it's a great idea to write a few test posts and get a feel for it. And you're right, it doesn't have to be every week. Thanks for the encouragement and for getting me thinking!

      Delete
    5. Blog post also don't have to be really long pieces either - I find my best posts are no more than 400 words. Go for it! I shall be asking you next month if you've started... :-)

      Delete
  3. Hi Maria - good for you ... you're taking action and learning. Good luck with all in 2018 - and have a successful year ...cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Hilary, I love to learn new things.

      Delete
  4. Well done on seeking out your mentor. I hope the relationship continues to bring forth fruit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Julia, it's been an eye opening experience.

      Delete
  5. Good luck with your 2018 plans, and I'm sure your renewed enthusiasm and positive outlook will make it a success.

    ReplyDelete

I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...