A couple of weeks ago I wrote about trying to find balance in my life, and specifically in my writing. I wrote about four major areas where I am actively seeking change in order to achieve this balance. I’d like to take a deeper look at one of those areas in particular, my writing. Here are six goals I am currently pursuing toward this end.
1. Read every day
I’m reading at least a little something everyday, whether a novel, a blog post, or something I’m researching. I’ve already finished the same number of books that I read all of last year. I can attribute a good bit of that to the 2016 Reading Challenge that I chose to participate in. Clearly, making a specific list to work from, is beneficial to me in pursuing a reading goal. I should therefore continue to work from a reading list. When the end of the year approaches, I will look for a new list, or create one of my own. I have some rather extensive book lists already, but I need to keep it specific so I don’t become overwhelmed.
2. Write every day
I started the Write Chain Challenge at the end of November 2015. I challenged myself to write or edit for one hour every day. I reached day 148 before life intervened in the way of a wedding – the wedding of a close family friend that did not allow me to write even one word for two days. I renewed my journey on April 24, 2016 and have now reached day 46 (on June 8, 2016) once more. I’m still writing daily, currently working on this blog and on two novels in progress. One is a middle grade adventure series and the other is a fantasy novel. I have plans to complete both of them in the near future. At which point, I will begin the arduous journey of editing them and then on to seeking publication.
3. Start a blog
Another one of my goals along the road to “becoming a writer” was to start a blog. I struggled with this decision for quite some time, and my concerns may have been valid. With limited available writing time already, was it a good choice to add another writing “obligation”? Does blogging take away from noveling? I haven’t quite figured that out. Yes, it does often prove a distraction from my other writing projects. Take now for example. Instead of working on one of my novels, I am writing a blog post. But I did start the blog, and I think it has kept me writing more, and thinking more about writing.
4. Write short stories
This one is proving problematic. Like the blog, short stories take up valuable writing time. I need to know that time taken to write stories outside of my novels is worthwhile. I have toyed with short story plot ideas as well as attempted to begin working on one or two stories. But so far, I’ve had no real success in producing a short story. I’m not ready to give up on this idea quite yet. One of my novel ideas originated from the idea of writing interconnected short stories. I’d also like to pursue a serial publication of short stories through a channel such as Channillo.com or other venue. This will require a great deal more discipline in order to produce regular content.
5. Read poetry
I still haven’t done much in this area either. I worked on creating a list of poets the internet considers some of the best. I ran across a random book of poetry by T. S. Elliot, but have yet to read any of it. I did read a book of poems by Nick Cannon that my children picked up randomly at the library. I enjoyed that experience, especially reading the poems aloud. The reason I want to pursue this effort is that I feel the study of poetry is the study of language. The precision required in a poem to direct the flow of words accurately is far more demanding, in my opinion, than the torrent of words released in writing a novel. At the same time, a novel should be no less poetic and beautiful as a poem.
6. Become a beta reader
This last goal is one I’ve only recently added. It is part of the give and take that is the writing community at large. I joined Twitter and started a blog in an effort to build relationships with other writers and other readers. Becoming a beta reader for another writer seems a logical next step in this building process. I am going to make an effort to add this to my writing and reading routine. There are a lot of brilliant writers out there, and if I have anything to offer by way of helping them succeed, then I consider myself fortunate.
Awhile back I made the conscious decision to pursue my writing more actively. I made a list of the things I needed to be doing in order to “become a writer”. From the general, read and write every day, to the specific, buy a printer. I needed a place to start in order to work on moving closer to my goal instead of continuing to drift along in an endless, circling eddy.
These are the goals I am working on. They may not be the same as yours, most likely they are not. I’d be interested in hearing about your writing goals and how you go about achieving them. What successes have you had?