Friday, December 28, 2012

Writing with Intention as a New Year's Resolution

I like making resolutions at New Year. It doesn't feel right somehow to end the year without deciding on something different to do in the coming 365 days. It can be to do more of something or less of something. To focus on a particular phrase or way of thinking about things. It can be a chance to give yourself permission to do something utterly crazy or fun. Just because you want to. It doesn't even have to be anything big. Just a little something to mark that moment of crossing the boundary between one year and the next.

Thinking about resolutions has reminded me of something I have known to be true of myself for a very long time. I am much better with setting intentions than I am with setting goals. While some people find deliberate specific goals inspire them,  I tend to find they have the opposite dampening effect for me, smacking too much of requirement and restriction and the dreaded words should and must. They also often have a tendency to be slightly left of center of what I actually want to accomplish with the goal. Intentions, on the other hand, tend to offer me a creative playground colored with the feeling of "I will" and "I want". Someplace I want to be. Something I want to do.  An open door through which I walk instead of clinging to the door frame a la Jodie Foster in Nim's Island.

Sometimes I forget that.

This post, as you can see, is not the first or even the second or even the sixth that I have made on Zinc Journey. In fact, if you were here really early on the ground, zincjourney was not even the original name for this blog.  It is classic evidence of my tendency to forget that goals (minus Nano and its 50,000 words, when I have a large writing community cheering me on to hit the goal with them and lots of wonderful pep talks popping into my mailbox) are not my forte.

Back at the resolution drawing board, I recognize what drove me to leap off that Goal Bridge back at the end of October. At its heart was my desire to feel a greater sense of improvement and forward motion in my writing and, quite frankly, to find myself in possession of a finished first draft of at least one of my works in progress.  It was also a wish to find my way into a more regular (and daily) writing practice.  All things that are still very important to me.  How to make that door wide enough, I might just find my way there?

Taking a cue from my past experiences with goal and intention setting, my new intention for 2013 is simply  1) to write more and 2) to spend more time thinking about writing and creative process. No limits on the what or the when or the how.  Looking forward to seeing what kind of writing comes out of that intention.

Wishing you the best of luck in your own resolutions, whether you choose an intention or a goal.  May 2013 be a great year for all of us.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mining for Words

Perhaps I should have taken note when I found myself penning these words back in my journal on December 7th

I  am so tired. I even went to bed at eleven, as planned. but I feel completely unrested. and well.  apparently I am still waiting for some super awesome prose to find its way to my finger tips instead of the ... whatever it is that keeps coming out. It's demoralizing really.

Or during the period of several days when I couldn't find it in myself to write, because I really needed to... figure out what I needed to buy/cook for the next few weeks (new dietary restrictions related food sensitivities, complicated. for another day); write a few Christmas cards; clean the oven; talk on the phone with a friend; basically do life, etc, etc...

Or really, when I got so desperate for word count when the story wasn't coming that I started counting every journal entry, every blog post, every available word that I spewed out somewhere on some page this month to bolster my word count. And my flagging spirits with it.  (my current word count for the month if you include all the fluff that I pasted into my document before the reality of what I was doing actually clicked in my little brain is 16, 656. about 16, 684 words short of where I "should" be.)  There really should have been some warning bells going off somewhere.

But no, it took a really great post by Chris Baty over on ...( except I don't see it now) that I read earlier today about writing and falling short of original goals, simmering away in the background soup of my brain for several hours, for the reality check to finally start setting in.  This goal I've set is not set in stone. It's arbitrary, and it's changeable. This year crash course idea is not about crashing me. It is about my commitment to improving my writing by pushing my limits in a dedicated way  in the coming year.  Writing 50,000 words in November as part of Nano is something I can do and have done several times.  Writing an additional 50,000 words every month for the next  several months?  Doable yes, but healthy? for me at this point in time? Maybe not so much. 20,000 words or 30,000 words a month may be more the speed I should be aiming for...  Time for some real reassessment on just what my real goals for this project are and how I can make this coming year the productive, , stretching, invigorating writing experience it has the potential to be while remembering to keep it doable.

And look, it's almost New Year's Eve and the start of a new year crackling with possibility. The perfect time to  make adjustments and shift resolutions!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sticker (Otherwise known as Gold Star for Effort)

Getting to write this little post has been the prize dragging me on through the shoals and sand bars of my writing today.  Two days in. Two days of writing down.  It was like pulling teeth to get words on paper literally all day. Lots of excitement and research on other stories, even a journal entry, but hitting that 1,667   words on anything vaguely related to GA was rough. Wrote the first few words somewhere in the neighborhood of 7:30 this morning, and only just finished them now around 10:30 pm.

But I did it.

And some of them were actually rather interesting in their direction. New count 53,761.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On to December

Defining the starting terms:

Starting:  50,144
Goal Ending Point:  100,144

You noticed that change in word count?  I am using Yarny as my word count measuring stick, rather than the validated  nano text file,  and Yarny (unfortunately?) doesn't include headings in its total word count. Thus I have a new start point this morning.

It was nice to feel finished and accomplished last night, but now, morning has come. With its new set of 50,000 words. If I am really going to do this thing. Which, of course, is not open for debate, and I am. Note to self.

The end of last month was a bit exhausting, trying to write 2500 to 5000 words every day for almost a week-- that would be the "only at 27,740 word count on Nov. 23rd" bit kicking in. I have no desire to repeat that, nor I have a feeling would my friends and family particularly enjoy it.  They have come to terms with November for the most part. I am not sure how they would feel about also having to coming to terms with me writing insanely dec, jan, and so on as a regular habit.  Which means, I have to give a go this month at trying to be more steady about it.

The tendency toward arthritic stiffness in my fingers would probably benefit from the more moderate approach as well...

Okay, I think that about sums it up for myself in terms of review and stating goalpoints. Skiving off now. Time to go do the actual writing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stumbling along

Still feeling my way along in this year's nano. Alternate days of no words and 2000+ words. The story seems to be finding its feet more than some of my past ones, though.  Maybe all the angst and stress of trying my hand at pre-planning for this rewrite is finally paying off.  

Current word count: 10,270

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Goal- 4 Novels, 12 Months

NOTE-  Here is a link to what I now hope this blog becomes over the next year-- Writing with Intention  While this post (and the next few after it) express a goal that this blog is no longer about, I am leaving them up as an example of process and how finding the best one for moving yourself forward requires regular re-assessment and often includes a number of "false- starts".  That's okay. Perfection is overrated, and there is always something more to learn than what you already know.


The sound of the start gun for NanoWrimo 2012 is less than twenty four hours away.  Gracing their blog page is a woman (Michelle Tuckett of winding toward the end zone of a year spent writing twelve completely different 50,000 word novels. One each month.  I am in awe.  Talk about an adrenaline pumping, death defying leap into writing.

With six novel drafts from previous Nanos (never mind the other multitudes of much shorter drafts for other non Nano stories) mouldering in my closet and decaying in my computer files from lack of more diligent editorial revision and regular writing attention, the thought of another twelve such partial drafts makes me a little nauseous. But it got me thinking.  During Nano, I can let go and just write. Some of it good. Most of it not. More of it good toward the end of the month after working my writing muscles so much than at the beginning of the month. I come alive with an energy I dream about the other 11 months of the year.   The rest of the year I poke and prod and pull with my teeth to get the words and sentences to straighten themselves out into orderly lines from the nebulous drift spot that is my brain and down my arms, out my hands, and onto the page. Exhausting, depressing work without much to show for it at the end of all that angst. The kind of work that makes you wonder what kind of masochist you are to claim writing is one of your favorite things in the world. As necessary as eating and breathing. Especially with the years piling up, one on top of the other, with nothing finished, nothing done, nothing to hand to another reader without a twinge of shame and an extensive apology.  And then came the crazy idea.

One of those sudden adrenaline pumping crazy idea kinds of thinks where you're wondering if you have the "20 seconds of insane courage" it takes to commit to something so big, so exhausting, so time consuming or if its just another one of those big ideas that would really be better of being left like a flame to gutter and disappear in a puff of smoke.  What if I modified Michelle's crazy 12 novels in a year idea to create my own version of a year long writing crash course to get my words out of my head and onto the page - rewrite 4 of my mouldering nano novels into newer 100,000 word drafts (2 months of 50,000 words on each), and then 4 months of editing (1 month each, pumping the draft up to 110,000 to 120,000 words) before Nano 2013?  What if I committed that much time to my writing craft  to see where my writing ended up before another year piles up? And now having written that out, no longer just letting the idea roll around in my head while I focus on other things, I have to wonder- have I lost my mind?

Which brings me here to this new blog page before I have a chance to let reality and logic and circular thinking and fear talk me out of it.  One day to let the crazy idea blow my mind. One day to grab a parachute before I leap.

Here are the working titles for the four novels in question:

1. Gone Android (GA)*
2. Nora and the North Wind (NW)
3. Blue Sky (BS)
4. Time Stop Cafe (TS)

*Gone Android will be the first novel up for a 50,000 word month.

Addendum 12/26/12-- Look for a goal change in the coming days as I reassess  writing priorities for 2013.