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
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.