Tips for writing New Years (Writing) Resolutions

New Years eve 2014, 2014, Square

It is almost New Years Day and time to make your New Years Resolutions for 2014.

In anticipation of another 1st of January, spent hung over and lying quietly next to the toilet, making mental lists of what not to do next year, I thought I would share some resolution advice from what I have learned.

Do's and Don'ts for Writing Resolutions

  • Don’t… Write a long list of chores for the year.

If everything on your list is a boring chore to work through or a task that has rolled over from last year – Ask yourself if you really will achieve it.  Probably not – Because its Boring! Your list needs to be motivating, exciting and challenging.

  • Don’t – Write down cliched stuff you know you wont do.

If you know for certain that you are not going to be able to finish, proof and publish that book by the end of  next year – Then don’t put down, 1. Publish a novel – Its just stupid, and you’ll fail.

  • Don’t  – Focus on everything you would ever want to achieve in your lifetime.

Be realistic about how many days there are in a year and what can be achieved.  If you write full time without taking any holidays in 2014, you will have about 2080 hrs to work with.  As an Emerging Writer you will probably have another kind of part time work, as I do two days a week, so that is …  1248 hrs of writing.  And if you spend any time (which you should) on education, research and learning more about writing then you are looking at about 832 hrs of actual writing next year.  What can you really get done in that time?

  • Do – Focus on the reward not the effort.

Try to aim your New Years Resolutions around rewards and sense of achievement rather than the effort of working and writing.  For example change, Finish Novel to something like, I will spend a whole day in the park drinking cidar with my friends the day I finish my Novel.  Change – I will do my tax as a writer this year... to something like, I will claim my computer on tax this year as I am a writer ($$$).

  • Do – Make them sound fun.

Need I say more about this?

  • DoWrite your resolutions.

It is crucial to have your resolutions written down somewhere.  Keep them somewhere you can find them and easily read over them when you need to.  Write them as though a stupid idiot is going to read them out loud to all of your friends.  That is how clear they need to be.  They must be so clear and simple that a stranger would know if they have been achieved or not.  This is a different kind of writing that should not be very creative.

  • D0 – Write your resolutions in advance.

This will make sure they are considered and relevant to where you want to go.  Don’t write your resolutions from the bathroom floor on the 1st of January.  I start taking notes about what I want to focus on next year from about the end of November.  That is when I start to reflect on the last year, and lots of talk about what has happened that year among friends has started.

  • Do – Aim at being better than last year – Not Perfect.

There is no end product to your life.  You and your career are never finished, so don’t get hung up on making this year a perfect year.  Just aim for it to be better than last year; for you to be a better writer than you were last year, not a perfect writer (as there is no such thing).

  • Do – Keep it simple.

Limit yourself to five resolutions if you can, and just make sure they get done.

Five ticked off resolutions will leave you feeling much better than only doing 5 things on a list of 34!

My Resolutions

1. Go to the Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival.

2. Give away work for free to get some critical feedback. (Completed March 18th 2014)

3. Commit to a writers group for 12 months.

4. Write my own wedding vows. (Completed on 26th April 2014)

5. Sell a Book.

2014 - 2 2014 - 1 New Years Resolutions, Emerging Writers Diary, Meghan Brewster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is NaNoWriMo?

Has NaNoWriMo been popping up online a lot lately?  Have your friends been posting about NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and you have no idea what they are talking about?  Well NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is coming up soon.

November 2013 is National Novel Writing Month

the emerging writer, nanowrimoWhat is it? –

It is a project of National writing – Yet to discover which nation?!  But NaNoWriMo has spread globally.  When you register for NaNoWriMo, you are able to imput your time zone within your profile.  This will enable you to find others in your area who are participating.

Lots of areas will be holding events during the month of NaNoWriMo.  Sydney for example have already organised a few planning sessions before November, a kick off party the night before and a few write in’s around the city to keep you motivated and on task.

Why am I getting involved?

Because I am reckless and impulsive – and like trying out stuff.  And I have got no idea how it will feel to try and write 50 000 words in 30 days.  I don’t know what that means yet?

What I hope to achieve from it.

Ideally I will have written a really great yet also completely terrible first draft that I can use.  I would like to abandon a lot of my own hang ups about writing that tend to debilitate how quickly I get things done.  I hope that in having such a strict dead line, I will just not have the time to indulge insecurities.

Nanowrimo, The emerging writers diary, emerging writers, writing first novel, meghan brewsterWhat my plan for the next month will actually be. 

October – I am going to get things as ready a possible.  Going over the plot treatment.  Do a lot of character studies and get very detailed about the location, scenery and details – So that I am not caught when it comes to planning.

November – We will actually be traveling around Thailand and then flying into Melbourne.  So this will be a very interesting time.   Hmmm.

 

To check out NaNoWriMo – Go to their websiteHERE X 

 

IMG_0493Meghan Brewster is a Blogger, Freelance writer and general spinner of Fiction. She is the founder and editor of The Emerging Writers Diary, as well as Itp & Me, a website dedicated to managing the rare platelet disorder, ITP. To learn more about Meghan Brewster follow this link. By making purchases through links on this website you are helping to support a young emerging writer. Thank you.

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Getting to Know my Strengths and Weaknesses

REALISING WHERE I AM NOW – TO HELP PLAN THE FUTURE 

It is coming up to the end of my first year as a writer.  I am starting to make new plans for the next year.  I am collecting all the memories of this past year together and seeing for the first time just how far I have come.  Stopping and reflecting like this, is such a great opportunity to stand back and see your work for the great achievement that it is.  I am now starting to make plans for my next year ahead; more reasonable, more realistic plans.  I am looking at where I am now to help plan where I want to be heading.  I am looking at where I am failing behind, to better see the areas of my practice that need attention.  I am realising the skills I have learnt, so that I may give myself a moment of recognition and congratulations before plunging in, head first, to a second uncharted year of writing.  Here is what happened and why I really should not have posted it.

STRENGTHS AS A WRITER

1 – Optimistic & Hopeful

I am very good a remaining optimistic that things will eventually go my way.  Perhaps this because, if I stick with something for long enough, it does.   I am young enough to not yet be able to quantify how far ahead of a future I have.  Perhaps on my thirtieth birthday all of this optimism and hope with fall away and leave me as bone.  But for now, this might be my most promising strength.

2 – Willing to Learn & Change

My willingness to learn is really important.  There is so much I have no idea about.  The more I study and read about writing and it’s history, the smaller and more naive I feel.  The best way for me to learn to try and read as much as I write.  There are free courses online that I have looked at, blogs about writing – following your favourite authors online is a good one.  I follow all my favourite authors, because they have so much to offer me.

Willing to change how I have been working and try different practices.  Willing to read outside my genre, willing to try writing early in the morning, and then compare it to late at night.  I was willing to move to a cheaper town, willing to work and save money to write, willing to give up the things I wanted for the things I needed.  Willing to become what I needed to become in order to make this work.  And I still am.

3 – Creativity and Alternate thinking

I don’t know where this comes from.  I wish I did.  If I knew where to source creativity I think I would be a very rich person.  I just know that somewhere inside me there is a notion of difference, of turning things inside out and around.  Perhaps I have an infection in my middle ear that means I have never quite learnt the meaning of flatness, or balance.

The most common question people ask me, after

‘Is it Meeg-Anne or Meg-Hunn?’ is this

How did you think to do it like that?’  The answer every time is…

‘I don’t know, I just did.’

It just never occurs to me that there is a ‘way’ to do anything, and if so, where I would have found out about it.  I sometimes wonder how everyone else learnt to do things the same way.  Like, was there a class at school I was not admitted to that taught everyone not to make a pizza base out of risotto or froze yoghurt muffins?  I want to know when everyone else learnt that Grated potato was not a good chicken stuffing??

My partner and I have recieved at lot of feedback from a dish we invented a long time ago, when we first moved in together.  He is Chinese and I am non de script white.  Our ideas of flavour in the kitchen usually vary, coming to the ultimate head, when we decided to make wonton soup, sort of mixed with a borscht recipe.  Needless to say the beetroot dyed the stock and the floating fleshy wontons made it easy to name the new dish – Pearl Harbour.  It just happened!

4 – Willing to Ask for Help

There is so much support out there if you are willing to look for it.  But it is hard, and takes practice.

5 – Aware of My Weaknesses

I am very honest about my skills.  I understand that there are things I am good at and things that I’m not.  Take this article for example.  I know I am really good at poaching eggs – and packing a suitcase.  I am good at braiding other peoples’ hair and identifying different smells.

I cannot make muffins or laksa or a really good fried rice.  I cannot tune a guitar or add numbers together, in fact I would go so far as to say I cannot count at all.  I cannot visualize value numerically and I cannot attribute them with a value or weight.  I am not very empathetic and do not find other peoples work politics interesting to hear about.  My weakness for looking bored when someone is talking about their ‘health’  is certainly something I need to work on.  But my understanding of the following Five weaknesses pertaining to my writing, is something of a strength of mine.

WEAKNESSES AS A WRITER

1 – Spelling & Grammar 

Everything I write looks American.  I rely completely on the spell check of Word press and My Office software.  If it wants to replace an S with a Z, I let it.  I know that I am bad at spelling, but I also know why.  Because I genuinely believe that spelling doesn’t matter.  This is why I have never bothered to get very good at it.  I just don’t care.  And I know a lot of writing purists will scream at reading this, but I think there is so much to focus on when writing, and more importantly when writing well, that I put spelling right at the bottom.  Get a life! I say to those people who think spelling is a lost sacred art.  That being said, spelling is a weakness of mine …  I should try to improve.  A little.

2 – Story & Plotting

Story and Plotting are huge challenges to writers.  I have read Robert McKee’s Story, and I nodded along when he said that story talent is rarer than literary talent.  I was also delighted when he informed me that both of these skills could be improved with practice and dedication to learn.  I am very interested in working on my Story and Plotting.  I don’t want to be  too bored to eve read over my own first draft.  Unlike my deficiency in the spelling category, I am incredibly interested in getting better at story and plotting.  Anyone know any other great books?

3 – Organisation & Time Management

Over the last year, I have developed highly elaborate and embarrassing schemes to help me be more organised.  The problem is I am too embarrassed to ever let anyone see them and offer help or advice.  Mostly they involve unsealed envelopes, hand written lists, a secret code of boxes and stars and ruled lines in purple pen.  I still struggle to remain in control of my daily and monthly tasks, to manage my savings, my exercise routines, my work, my drafts and small projects, my social obligations and my forward planner.  But I want to get better at this too, so I will find a way to learn.

4 – Routine & Regular Practice

Habits are made and broken by the way we spend our time.  They do not arrive by accident into our lives without our consent.  It is us, and us alone who choose to create habits, either negative or positive by choosing to do something over something else…again and again and again until it is automatic.  I have decided that this is going to be the best way to over come all my other weaknesses – if I can get better at building strong, positive habits.  Oh yes.  I am going to give it a go.  this weakness might just be the one I hope to change first.

5 – Finishing Projects

I am very good at getting distracted by the next exciting thing.  I am not very good at getting things finish.  I am happy for things to take a thousand years to get done.  I have no sense of urgency about my work, it just plods along.  I find it very easy to excuse away a failed deadline or an incomplete project.  This is a habit of mind.  A negative habit.  (See above

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 If you are having a particularly bad day, why not try and do the following exericise, but only write down your five strengths.  It might just open your eye to how well you are going, as you work to become a full time, emerged writer.

How to make your very first dollar

Today I made 82 cents on the internet from my writing.  My first 82 cents.  It was 10 months in the making.  This is not the story of how I made a million dollars or how I managed to get over 20 000 downloads.  This is the story of how I, over 10 months, managed to earn 82 cents from my writing.  It is the hardest 82 cents I have earned but also the most satisfying.  This 82 cents makes me believe that I should keep going and that is priceless.

Having the Idea – I did not know what to write about for a long time.  I knew I wanted to write a blog, so I waited for a while, thinking and hoping that a great idea would come.  Nothing came.  I just waited.

This process went on for a few months, maybe longer.  I was thinking, searching, forcing and trying to tease out a brilliant idea.  I never had one.  I never woke up one morning shouting that I finally had a great idea.  I decided to set up an interim website to learn how to do it, so that I would be ready when the great idea came.  My first website was about health and being sick when you are young.  (I am sick and I am young, so I had a lot to talk about)

I loved it so much I set up  another website about writing, about sitting around waiting for good ideas to come and about how they take ages to appear.  It never occurred to me that those two websites where my good idea until much later.  For a long time I was working on them waiting for something else to happen.  True story.

The Emerging WriterSetting up the web site – This step was quiet easy for me as I live with someone who does this for a living.  He is very good and very fast, so I did not learn much about the setting up of websites.  If you don’t have a tech genius on hand then there are great sites that can guide you through the process of setting up a website.  It should only take you a few hours and will be ready to go in about a day.

I recommend – How to Make a Brand New Website – They have got all the instructions you need, heaps of support along the way and hosting so it is all in one spot.  It will cost you to register the URL (Domain name) and you will need to pay a monthly or yearly fee to have the site hosted.  It’s all there.

Start writing articles – This was the most enjoyable part for me (And still is)  As I went about my day, I was taking photographs, writing articles and making notes for things to post later.  It was great and felt so easy.  I was just writing and posting with no regard for quality or audience.  I was entertaining my self first.

I think if you are really struggling for material to write on the site then you might not have picked the right niche or the write content for your personality.  It has to be natural and authentic and I think, easy.  Otherwise, the writing will be hard to sustain and you will eventually forget about it completely.  Relate it to your immediate environment to keep it fresh and vibrant.

Set up affiliates program online – This whole process probably took 20 mins, maybe less.  There are heaps of programs available to join from big companies such as Amazon Affiliates to smaller programs where you can directly sell individuals products.  You will notice these more, now that I have brought them to your attention.  Only ever sell things that you genienly like or own yourself.  Never try and be sneaky about advertising, if will discredit every other word you have written on the site if you are busted.

The Emerging WriterLink Website to Facebook Page – This was one of the longest processes for me to do and a still am not sure if it is set up right.  I use word press for m hosting, so I have downloaded a few Facebook plugins.  I have the plug in that is attached to each individual article.  Don’t like it too much but have not found anyone who can help out yet?  Anyone?

Actually Learn how to Write Articles  The first articles I wrote were terrible.  I know it.  But I don’t want to take them down or re write them because those articles are where I started.  This site is about being honest about where I started and people being able to see how it all came to be.  Everything you find here is the original stuff that I have built up.  I don’t want anyone to be intimidated by the huge task in front of them – just start.

The Emerging Writer, Writing.

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Keep Writing Articles and reading great writing books.  I started to read a little about writing better articles.  I felt like I wasn’t improving for a long time and I was starting to get a little frustrated.  I read Mark Tredenicks, The Little Red Writing Book.  Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  Drew Eric Whitman’s Cashvertising.  Now I can look back on those first posts and realize just how far I have come.  I now write less in a diary format – I have started writing longer more in depth articles exploring a problem I am having at the moment.  I always include an image.  And I always break up a huge piece of text.

Give up hope that anything will happen. – I was completely convinced almost a year later that I had wasted my time.  If I had not enjoyed it all so much I would have given it up.  Definatly.  I had forgotten about the associate program and was not sure why I what I was doing anymore.

10 months later – Head to the Bank!!  Last night when I was heading to bed, thinking about how I could not make it work – I get an email saying that I earnt 82 cents!! Boom!  I had been googling jobs in the area, thinking about how I could become a baby sitter  when I got this email.  It had worked.  The hardest dollar you will ever make is your first dollar.  And I have done it already.

What are you doing for the next 10 months?

15 January 2013 – The Story Ignites

The Emerging Writer, writing, ideas

Loch Garra

15th January 2013 – Yes!  There is a story here, in this rich and intriguing history.  I did not see it at the museum yesterday, behind the glass cabinets and in the displays.  The story is out here, in this isolated old cottage, in the ruins of a burn out industry, hours away from anywhere.  While walking through around the garden, it felt like there was a such an overwhelming sense of place and people.

The story came to me so quickly, walking on this beach.  I saw a couple running from their parents plans, a young girl living in the burnt out ruins of her grandparents mistakes.   I could see fragments of people loving and hating this land and the dangerous life of whaling.  I could see reluctant whalers taken to sea by their excited and passionate fathers.

The Emerging Writer

Kiah River

I could see the possibility of a thousand stories.

I don’t want to re tell the story of the family that lived there.  I started reading about the Davidson’s and their whaling empire on the plaques around the cottage but I do not have the talent or the desire to recount a period of NSW history.  Descendants of the Davidson family still live in the area – in fact I might have gone to school with one of them.  The facts will stifle the sensation of my tale and prevent any possibility of the fantastical

I want to tell an alternate past, and altered history – that might have been possible if things were different and magical was more tangible.

Researching

The Emerging Writer, Ideas, writing

Local factory workers

14th January 2013 – During our stay on the far south coast, one of the things I really wanted to do was go to the Whaling Museum.  There are a lot of ideas moving round and round in my head, and I have a great sense of place and country, by no direction with the characters are story.  I have fallen in love with the nature of the novel, but I am wondering if there is even a story there to tell.

The Emerging Writer, ideas, writing

More Whales

I have been doing a lot of research online, this is the first time I have gone somewhere myself and really sort out research for the novel.  I am carrying my laptop again – but I must confess I don’t have the strength to tell the lady I am here researching my first novel.

$18 for my Annual Pass and my name is written in a special members book.  At the door as I leave, with my camera full of pictures and notes, I find maps and pamphlets and information about local historic sites.

I feel like a writer today, and it has given me the encouragement I need to drive the 3 hours to the Davidson Whaling Station – Tomorrow.

The Forgettable Idea

Act swiftly when a good idea strikes

It wasn’t until recently that I really understood how important it is to be prepared for a good idea.  It is amazing how forgettable a good idea is.

I woke up this morning with the most extraordinary images, idea and story in my head.

My heart was racing when I woke and I was struck with a feeling of wonder and owe.  In my dream, I had been on the most epic, emotional and vivid adventure of my life.  I was desperate to know what happened next.  There were new characters I had just met and we were sailing, or floating, charging towards some destiny, demanding the water to move with us.  I woke more motivated and excited than I have been in weeks.  I rolled towards the center of the bed, my partner smiled, said good morning and kissed me.

The stories disappeared.

They were gone.  I have one scene left – the last of the dream that I can half conjure.  Of a man, with the water moving through him, standing on the edge of life, his hands raised demanded to be let through.  I don’t know what to make it now.  The visions are gone.  The characters, gone.  I wasn’t prepared, there was no paper beside my bed, no pen, to lamp to switch on in the darkness.  I rolled towards my partner instead of towards my laptop.