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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorm your Plan for Writing

Emerging Writers, Writing, Writers,This post is the second article in a series about making a Plan for Writing for your year ahead.  If you missed the first article you can find it here.

1.  How to Plan Your Writing (Career)

Before you start worrying about the finished plan – let’s start making a mess.  The best thing about brainstorming is that anything goes, so get your brain into a storm and write down everything and anything you can think of.

“It’s not the plan that’s important, it’s the planning.” Dr. Gramme Edwards

I love sitting down with a few old weekend newspapers and cutting out pictures of people doing great stuff.  I collect wonderful book reviews I wish were mine, pictures of book covers with great designs, words, images and colours.  Everything.  These images normally end up stuck in the Planning Diary for a bit of colour.

The following questions are just to help your brain start to dream bigger than you were dreaming a moment ago.

Start with all the fun stuff and answer these five questions first…

  1. What are five things you would write if you knew you weren’t going to fail?
  2. What are five things you would do or start, if you knew that money was not an object?
  3. What are five things you would change about your writing practice?
  4. What would you work on or create, if you no longer wanted to impress anyone?
  5. How would you answer these four questions above, if you were already an established writer?
The Emerging Writer, Writing MotivationThen you need to sit down and really think about these five questions
  1. What are your reading goals for the year? – How much time will you give yourself to read?  How many books would you like to read over the next year?  Are you going to commit to reading the book pages every week?  Are you going to remember to read as much as humanly possible?
  2. What are your writing goals for the year? – Are you going to measure your time in hours spent working or word counts at the end of the day?  Are you going to write every day?  Are you going to set larger goals of manuscript drafts?  Are you going to keep a diary for the year?  Are you going to work on freelance material or only on your own work?
  3. What are your goals for the writing community? – Are you going to allocate time to attend Writing and Writers Festivals?  Are you going to join or continue to meet with a writers group?  Are you going to tell everyone you know you are a writer now?  Are you going to change your job status on Facebook?
  4. What are your rejection goals for the year? – Are you planning on sending your work to a publisher this year?  Are you planning on finding an agent?  How many times would you like to be rejected this year?  Are you planning on giving you work to a friend for the first time?  Or five friends?  Are you going to apply for a job as a writer this year?  I like to call these rejection goals, to help take the fear out them.
  5. What are your education and financial goals for the year? – Are you planning on taking any short courses at a Writers Centre?  Are you planning on buying and reading any inspiring books by other writers?  It is important to remember that Education as a writer is essential and that it does not always come free.  Being a writer and developing your career will cost you.  How much are you willing to spend?  Would you like to have your manuscript assessed by a professional? $$  Would you like to start your own blog?  $$  Would you like to join a union or writers guild? $$

There is a lot to think about but I believe the act of making these plans is what brings all the benefit.  Even if you never look at these again, this day dreaming and imagining will help make it all the more possible.

Goalbook2

My Planning Books

I have two books that all of my plans go into.  One is for the year ahead.  The other book is for the big, distance, impossible dreams.  They are both full of images, notes, writing and rememberings.  It is great.  I brought a huge book knowing that I will be making plans for my writing career for the next 35 years – I want to keep them all together to see how far my ambitions will go.

This might not work for you.  Perhaps you would like to have all you goals written on the wall?

Follow this link to help you sort out what to do with this great brainstorming

3. Finalising your Plan for writing

 

By making purchases through links on this website you are helping to support a young emerging writer. Thank you.

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The Hero’s Journey (Realising your Screwed)

19th August 2013 – Don’t you just hate it when you think you are writing really well and then you meet someone who smashes all your dreams apart.  Perhaps this has never happened to you before.  You are lucky then.  I am not!

The Emerging Writer, Writers diary, the heros journey

The Hero’s journey Diagram

This happened to me over the weekend.  I went to a meeting with the Writers of the Far South Coast.  I listened to the speaker talk of a heros journey and I started to sink in my seat, my shoulders folded in on themselves and I tried to hide.

I have heard all of this before, dont get me wrong.  I have listened to this talk probably 4 times before.  But something about yesterday struck  me.  I searched back through my novels 87 000 words, as I sat there.  I know it is all written quite well.  I know things happen during the novel.  I know there are events and they happen in a sequence.  I know there is conflict and tension and surpirse and love and all of that stuff.  What I don’t think – is that the story truly holds itself together.

In short – I am screwed.  As a piece all on its own, it would not hold together.  If I let it go sailing down a river, it would disolve.  If I pushed it out of the nest it would crumble.  If I stood it up on the bench, it would topple over.

The hero's journey, the emerging writer, emerging writers diary

Contemplating smashing computer apart…

I was thinking about making a cake.  About all the things that makes a cake taste good, butter, sugar, cream, walnuts, chocolate and coffee.  Yum.  But with no egg the cake is nothing – it won’t hold together, it won’t bind and it won’t rise slowly in the oven.  I have just made a big pile of nice tasting ingredients, sort of mixed together.

Do I start from scratch?

Is this where I am?

Do I stop everything and pull it apart and try to build it back together?

I learnt the rules so that I could break them, but instead I just forgot they existed all together.  What an idiot.

You’re probably thinking…. Ummm Duuurrrhh!  What are you ten, that is so obvious.

I guess I just – well I thought the world I created would be interesting enough, the characters so intriguing and cute, the writing would be so great that it would just – Work.

I think I have to start again.  From Scratch.

Please, if you have ever gotten almost finished and then realised that you have not even started, please let me know.  I need to know I am not the only crazy idiot out there.  How many times have you re written your novel from scratch??  Call me.

 

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

     Instagram

 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.

Why You Should Throw Your TV Away!

… or donate it to charity.

I do not have a television in my house

Three and a half years ago I got rid of my television.  I had wanted to get rid of it for a while, but I always thought of it when I was out, or driving, or at work.  By the time I got home I would start to make dinner, switch on the TV automatically and forget all about throwing it away.  It wasn’t until I moved house that I decided the television was not coming with me.  I left it behind in the share house for the girls.

Since that moment I have never once regretted the decision.  In fact I don’t even think about television anymore.  When my three year old nephew asked me if he could watch TV at my house, I was not sure what he was talking about for a while.  He did not believe me that we did not have a TV and started to search the house for it.

If you would prefer to watch television rather than write, then you are probably not going to make much of a writer.  But perhaps you have just gotten into a bad habit and need a moment to break it.

Wasted Time is Wasted Words

If you watch the news and one other television show per day, then you are spending on average 2 hours a day watching TV.  40 minutes will be spent watching the news, 50 minutes spend watching a ‘show’ and 20 mins watching advertising for things you don’t need or want.

Two hours of TV a day is the same as 730 hours a year.  If you write at the very slow rate of 500 words an hour, then you are still wasting 730 000  words a year.  730 000 words that are not going to get written.  That is one whole book a year just with the time saved from not watching TV.

Excuses for Holding onto the Television

  • I Watch TV to Relax – There are lots of other ways to relax that do not involve looking at adds and sitting idol in front of a TV.  Meditation, playing music, cooking, making dessert, gardening
  • I Watch TV to ‘Break up’ My Day – There are lots of other ways to break up your day.  Stopping in to the gym on the way home from work, going for a walk as soon as you get home, heading to the library for 30 minutes, sitting in a different room of the house, having a cup of tea and looking at the sky, writing in a diary about the day you have just had…
  • I Need a TV to Distract the Kids – They are just used to the TV being around, they don’t really NEED it.  Tell the kids the TV is broken and then hide it in the house for a week.  They will soon get used to it not being around.  They can always watching movies on a laptop or computer if they are sick and stuck in bed.
  • It’s not me, its my Partner who Watches it – If your partner would never part with the TV, then what about moving it into a different room of the house and make sure they always keep the door closed.  Taking the TV out of the lounge/dining/kitchen area means that there will be no more ‘accidentally’ being stuck on a show.

By making purchases through links on this website you are helping to support a young emerging writer.  Thank you. 

7th of July – Piece by piece…

7th July 2013 – Ok.  So I spent a day panicking!  I apologise, it was wrong of me to loose hope so quickly.  I should have been braver.

In fact it turns out that Lamott my have saved me after all with her talk of short assignments and taking things nice and slow.

I have broken it up the ‘Shitty first draft’ into 80 smaller more manageable sections, or scenes I guess.  The whole huge task feels immediately different.  I can just take it section after section.  Eatting an elephant as they say, bite by bite…

Today I am just going to read over one section.  That is all.  Ok.  I will just look at section one.  That is it.  Piece by piece.  Little by little.  It is ok to freak out.  I freaked out yesterday and it is ok.  I just have to keep going in the face of freaking out…

Later today…. Hahahahaha!!!!! Oh my I am laughing out loud.  As I read over section one, I realise that a character whom is a boy at the end, actually is introduced as a girl.  One of my characters actually changes gender throughout this draft – Ha!    Fuck.  Deep breathing.  Hide the hair scissors away – No more split end cutting – get going.

I am going to need to find somewhere to by roasted whole coffee beans in this tiny little town.  Coffee is so expensive here – I can’t afford to keep going to my beautiful little cafe/bookshop/writing office.

It’s Never Going to be this Hard Again

The Emerging Writer, Writer, Writing

25 June 2013 – Today I went to the Gym for the first time in my life.  I have walked a lot and done yoga and a few dance classes, but this time I was going to the gym.  I consider myself moderatly fit and assumed I could certainly finish a class that was tailored for a beginner.

You will never hurt again, like you hurt that first time

The Emerging Writer

Tura Gym

What was to come was far beyond my comprehension.  I skipped, jumped, leaped about, squatted and pushed and stepped up on to things to the point where I thought I was going to faint.  I was halfway through a circuit I was expected to do five more times.  I have ever moved my muscles in that sort of way before, never lifted a weight above my head or squatted on a rope.  I collapsed, lying on the floor as the room tilted slightly off and my fingers quivered and shook.

What I realised while I was lying there, heaving my chest up and down, sucking in the hot air of the gym was that this was never ever going to be this hard again.  I had turned up to my first class.  I had come, in my outfit and I have participated.  This was the first time and I was there.  And I will never again have to go through my first time at the gym.  It will never be this difficult again, because I have started.

Remember this as you start to write – Maybe for the first time in your life.

The first time you try it is the most difficult thing ever and every single time you go back to it will get easier.   Your muscles will form a memory, you brain will familiarise itself with the action and you won’t have to look on the map to see where you’re going.  You will never hurt again, like you hurt that first time.

 

Telling People You’re a Writer

14th June 2013 – Remember!! – It is MUCH easier to tell the lady at the supermarket your a writer than it is to tell your mother; who has supported you through two degrees, watched you fail at being an art teacher and has adjusted her expectations of your whole to life to include never paying back your HECS debt, working casually at a cafe in the city and making cute home made mobiles for your nieces.

This is probably the biggest hurdle I have been trying to over come for a long time – Telling people I am a writer without looking or feeling like a complete Wanker!

If you want my advice, take it slow.  Take it real slow and practice where ever you can.

STEP ONE – Practice writing it down first.

  • The Occupation section on an over seas entry visa.
  • In Online surveys and stuff.
  • Nest to your name on a piece of paper.

STEP TWO – Saying it out loud to strangers.

  • Tell your butcher.
  • Your barista.
  • The lady at the Supermarket
  • Your friends’ parents.

STEP THREE – It gets easier every single time you try it.

  • People you know brothers and sister.
  • Your best friend.
  • Your parents

The final step for me was to change my job title on Facebook.

No Turning Back Now

The Emerging Writer, Writing, traveling

Home coming

03 June 2013

I am driving to Merimbula to find us a house.  I am almost halfway through my experiment to leave the life of working in a cafe and enter the world of writing.  This is the view coming down the mountain from Canberra to Merimbula.  I have not been on the road for years.

I guess everything has been building up to this point.  I have quit my job and we are leaving Sydney.  I have to make this work.  I wonder if I could make any money out of this website…  Hmm, I will look into it.  I am so far in it now that I cant get out.  I have decided.  I have told everyone I know.  I am committed.

Adding ‘Writer’ to your Facebook Profile

emerging writer, writing, how to write a book, writing a novel, how to become a writer, creative writing ideas, writing tips,

Did you know that your Online Profile does accurately depict you – no matter how much you try to fake it?

If you thought that you were fooling any one with your Facebook profile, think again.

In most online situations you get to pick and choose the information you want to reveal. You get to select the most attractive photos of yourself to post and you can edit and revise your comments before you make them. But…surprisingly, one study discovered that Facebook profiles are actually quite good at conveying your real personality.

And viewers of your profile are very good at accurately reading you from it.

People Can Accurately Judge Your Personality Based on Your Profile

In the study, researchers looked at 236 profiles of 236. The participants also filled out questionnaires designed to measure personality traits. Observers then rated the personalities of the participants based on their online profiles, and these observations were compared to the results of the personality questionnaires. The researchers found that observers were able to get an accurate read on a person’s personality based on their Facebook profile.

Viewers of your profile trust and respect the information you are providing.

People will only ever take you as seriously as you take yourself.

So come on Emerging Writers… Change it the moment you decide to pursue writing full time.  Must be a complete transition.

‘I am petrified but I am going to do it anyway’

The Emerging WriterToday I am Changing my Job to Writer – After a lot of time telling people in my life I am a writer, today I am going to change my occupation on Facebook.  Big Deal!

Ok – I did it.

Oh my god – that was horrible.  I wish I could delete it…

NO!  It is all part of the change.  I need to pull my shit together, no one will even see it, this is for my own wellbeing.

So I did it.  I got such a positive response.  Some of my friends did not even realise I had started writing and sent me texts to ask how I was going.  It’s a great way to let people show they support you.  I have just realized something about Facebook.  You tend to only get two responses on Facebook.  Either people like your work and write something encouraging – OR – they ignore you.  All the people you hate and all the people who hate you, your not friends with and therefore…Don’t reply.

Your task – Log in to Facebook right now and Change Your Job.  

Then let me know how it felt…