I can’t believe we’re already half way through the month of February. Once January bites the bullet, the weeks always seem to quickly disappear. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of getting older, but these days I find weeks and months slipping by me like a river. One of the ways I try to keep focus on what I want to do with regards to writing is setting a few targets for myself. I thought I’d share a few of these on here (nothing like a bit of public accountability as a motivation aid 😉 ). Plus, I really enjoyed my writer friend Andrea’s post on her own plans a few weeks ago. I’m very nosy about other peoples’ writing, and enjoy hearing all about their processes and intentions. Writing is a lonely pursuit, I find, and sharing really helps.
I really hope that 2019 is the year I finish my first novel (really, truly!) It seems like I’ve been writing it forever now and I’m actually quite embarrassed about not having been able to get it done. I finished a first draft of it (40,000 words), back in the summer, and on reading it a couple of months later, actually felt really disappointed with it (I’m told this is a natural reaction 😉 ). The plot was okay (I think) but there was little depth to the overall story or the characters – I had basically written it as if someone’s Granny was telling them a story before they went to bed. After a period of wallowing over my failings as writer, I decided to change my perspective though. I started to see it as a very long synopsis that just needed to be layered, cultivated and improved. Since then I’ve been working on it four days a week, have added another 25,000 words and introduced a new character. There is still a long way to go with it but I do feel that I’m now on a slightly better track.
For my fortnightly writing group this year, I’m writing (what is due to be at least), a 20,000 word novella. I was cautious of starting another big writing project at the same time as working on my novel, but so far, I’ve somehow managed to do both. My story is about a seventeen year old girl who leaves her home in the north of Scotland to study at university. There she suffers a major setback and the story is a sort of coming-of-age tale about navigating friendship, love and the character’s complex feelings about where she’s from. I’ve definitely drawn on some of my own feelings and emotions in the story (I too was once a seventeen year old full of conflicting emotions), but the story itself is mostly fictional. I’ve written it in the first person, which is a new style for me (and has raised some concerns from a few peers in my writing group, to be fair). But I want to stick with it, and perhaps develop it into something longer in the future – at the moment, it has ‘shiny new project’ written all over it. I’m being careful to avoid the temptation to dart off with it into the sunset (from what I’ve discovered, shiny new projects don’t tend to stay that way for very long).
SHORT STORIES, MAGAZINES, COMPETITIONS AND LEARNING
This year, I’d really love to get an article or short story published in a magazine. I’ve written for websites before (most recently the North Coast 500), but I’d love to be able to see something I’d written in a magazine that can be bought from a real-life, proper shop 🙂 . I’ve written one short story already this year to submit to some publications, but I could do with a few more stories in my arsenal. I’d also like to enter a few more writing competitions – my main problem in this area is getting time to write the actual stuff, never mind finding time to fill out the lengthy forms 😉 . I’d also like to do more learning, aside from my writing group, and perhaps get to another retreat or development workshop (a day or two would be enough for me, as I get pretty homesick for my family when I’m away – a proper baby). Something like the retreat I did in 2018 would be perfect – if you’re interested, you can read all about that in this post I wrote last year.
I still really enjoy writing on Wellies on the School Run, although over the last year I have pared down my posts from two to one a week to prioritise other writing. If it weren’t for blogging, it’s unlikely I’d have ever have had the confidence to show anyone my writing, and it’s also given me a lot of new opportunities (like appearing on the radio) along the way. My writing style when blogging is actually very different from the style I use in creative writing, though. It does sometimes make me wonder if an interest in my blog and my creative stuff would necessarily translate!
This year I’m due to appear at the John O’ Groats Book Festival in April to talk about blogging (and also read some of my other work in another segment). It’s something I’m looking forward to – although I can already feel a sense of the old imposter syndrome setting in. Aside from that, I do hope I might be able to inspire, or help, other people who may have an interest in taking up blogging.
My biggest writing target for the year? Perhaps it’s as simple as moving forwards, and learning to believe a little more in me.