The Stories Begun

{April 5, 2011}   I really hate mirrors.

And history is the worst one.  Thankfully, it seems that this time, the reflection of my past has actually taught me something.  My past pattern has been to be faithful in blogging for a little while, maybe even a good while, and then miss for about a month (for a myriad of reasons, perhaps some of them are even good).  At a month, I get too intimidated/ashamed to start up again until I am too sick at heart from lack of writing to not start up again . . . about six months later.

Vicious cycle.

Thankfully, as I said, the mirror of my blogging history has at last come through.  When I realized that this week would make the dreaded month, I figured I should probably get back on the blogging horse before my shame became too enormous.  Still, since my shame is still decently large, I decided to use it to examine my writing practices in general, to see if what other patterns of fault that mirror could illuminate.

But first!  A few rules:

  • No castigating!  Recognizing faults and areas for improvement is one thing.  Beating myself up will help nothing.
  • Related to rule one is rule two: minimum name calling.  I am only allowed one “I am/This is stupid.”  That’s it.  To be used wisely.  Other names also to be used sparingly.
  • Focus on the general today.  Descending into minutia can wait for another careful scrutiny of self/post.
  • After determining the faults, come up with some simple solutions, preferably ones that address multiple problems.
  • Last but not least: Understand that these problems are not unique.  Many people struggle with their own craft.  You help nothing by assuming that you are alone.

Okay, the rules are set!  On with the task!

Fault one:  Good intentions.

You know that saying about the pathway to Hell?  Well, the pathway to a dead manuscript (the dreaded xms) is paved with the same materials and do I ever have a lot of them.

Fault two: Distractions.

Thankfully, I have the ability to be single-minded when I need to or to multi-task when called upon.  However, when I’m between needs, I seem to set up my own distractions (have the internet browser up and running behind my word processing application as well as a card game I can switch back and forth between when a sentence is taking “too much” work to form).  Beyond just those distractions, there are personal “distractions” (family and friends) that, rather than work around them, I allow them to displace the work entirely.  This is not okay.

Fault three: Project jumping.

This is really stupid. I know better than to do this and I do it anyway.  Rather than sit down with a project and get a clear idea of it, I often get just far enough to establish shallow roots in my brain before jumping ship for the next interesting project.  I know that variety is the soul of creativity and am not silly enough to think that I can start one project and finish it while never working on another, but I am smart enough to know that there should be one main project I am working on and that there better be a darn good reason for me to put it aside.  At this point, there rarely ever is.

Fault four: consistency.

Ah, I’ve talked about this one before!  I’m not sure there’s much else to say about it, either.  inconsistent = sub-par writing.

Fault five: Getting bored.

I don’t get bored with the story.  I get bored with the work. It’s much easier to imagine the end than it is to work towards it.  Bad, lazy me! (That wasn’t castigating . . . that was a gentle scolding . . . yeah.)

Fault six:  Minutia.

I’ve always liked the details of things: the brushstrokes of a painting, the stitches in an afghan, each shave and thrust of the knife in a carving.  In fact, it was something of a revelation when I was told that one of the main reasons I struggled in school was directly due to the fact that I saw details better than the big picture.  Unfortunately, it is easy to drown oneself or one’s ms in said details. Especially since, as the author, it is my job to know them all.

Okay, I think those are the main faults that my history can show me today.  Solutions go along these lines:

Solution one:  Find time where there is time.

Consistency is one thing, writing the same time for the same amount of time is another.  I may one day get there, but it’s not going to happen right now.  So, when I find the time, I need to utilize it!    For example, this blog goes out on Tuesdays, but I had time on Monday to write it, so I did!  Then it was just a matter of scheduling the post to publish on Tuesday.  (Addresses faults 1 and 4.)

Solution two: Learn to say no.

Eliminating distractions includes saying no to myself and to others.  I need to be able to say no to that silly game on Facebook (although shutting down my account at the end of the month will help with that) as much as I need to occasionally say no to watching NCIS with the family or watching a movie with the boyfriend.  My writing may not be my job right now, but it is still part of me as well as eventually being a career goal.  Also, saying no to the lazy/ship-jumping instincts will help specific project progress greatly. (Addresses faults 2, 3, 4, and 5.)

Solution three: Take good notes.

Ideas strike all the time. I know this.  I love this.  In fact, this has helped me get back on track before.  However, this also causes problems.  So it’s time to start taking the same sort of fastidious notes that I did in college classes, this time with my ideas as the subject.  This way I’ll be less afraid of losing things, as well as less enticed by the thought of starting something new. (Addresses faults 2, 3, and 6.)

Solution four:  Set up a regular time each month to review projects.

Once a month, look at the work I’ve done.  If I’ve done one page of work, maybe this “main project” isn’t the right main project for the moment.  Maybe it is, but I’m not doing something right (should be editing some older parts of it rather than trying to add new material).   Just spend the time to make sure that I’m setting myself up to succeed, not merely not fail.  (Addresses faults 1, 3, 4, and 5.)

And there you have it!  I’ve held myself up to the mirror and come out fairly unscathed!  Sure, I have things to work on, but none of these are particular news.  And the solutions are, thankfully, simple.  Funny how being determined to be simple makes it easier to be simple.

Off to put the plan into action!



i do hope this works, i know what the project jumping is like, and sometimes it can be self caused, but i agree with the best of intentions part :)you can do it! and if you fall off again you can always get back on 🙂

rjlouise says:

No! No more falling off! Just getting more settled on. I am determined.

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