As you’ve probably seen, the new year has just begun. It’s been mentioned in the news once or twice, as well as on some calendars. I’m not totally sure where all the time zones start and end, but as we’re now almost 120 hours into the New Year in Greenwich Mean Time, I think everyone’s made it across.
The tradition is to make resolutions, to look at things in our lives that need changing, and come up with a plan to make that change. Most of my bad habits (the ones I care about, anyway) are linked to my inconsistent writing habits.
So I’m going to do something I did briefly 13 months ago – a writer’s contract, a public commitment to do a few things that will get me writing on a consistent basis.
So, my commitments from here on. I intend to:
- Write 1,000 words a day. This is open to interpretation, as a large part of the writing process is rewriting. It’s possible to end a day with less words than I started with, but to have a stronger, more coherent article as a result of the process. I’ll have to take this into account, but I think 1,000 words a day, as a rough definition, is tough but achievable. It does mean I’ll be writing down nonsense a fair amount of the time, but at least nonsense can be rewritten. It’s harder to tell which part of a blank sheet should be crossed out.
- Keep on top of a variety of projects. This might sound strange to some, but I tend to find that, as the different areas of writing stimulate and frustrate me in different ways, sometimes moving from one to the other can work as a break as well, or better, than a rest would. I remember seeing a quote from Ben Kingsley, saying that, after making a dark and serious film, something to do with a house made of sand and fog, (I think it was called Fable III) he went immediately on to play The Hood in Thunderbirds. He said that he felt burned out after going through such a serious and emotionally draining process, and that doing something flimsy and fun totally recharged his creativity. I tend to find the same works for me. Though nothing I’ve written is drainig because it’s emotionally dark, I do feel that my comedy pieces are proof I have an awful sense of humour, my football articles prove I have a deeply flawed understanding of how football works, and my fiction proves that I have such a flawed misunderstanding of the human condition that I should be locked up before I harm myself or others. So each drain me in one sense or another. But there are things I enjoy in each (the joy in being silly while telling a ridiculous story, exploring my thoughts on a football issue or looking into a story I’m vaguely aware of in more depth, for example). Moving from one to the other has, in the past, helped me pick myself up when feeling jaded.
- Have a whinge on the blog. One of the original themes for the blog was to be a sort of writer’s diary, sharing my neuroses, setbacks, thoughts on story structure and so on. I could probably make a bit more of that.
- Get back into writing short comedy. It’s absolutely ages since I submitted to The Leaky Wiki, and there’s a few comic set-ups I used once or twice then abandoned.
- Write a few more analyses. I’ve intended to do a lot more of these than I have done, and hopefully will return soon.
- Write more TV reviews. I intend to review a variety of new shows in the new year. In terms of hits, some of my most popular articles have been reviews for programmes like Life’s Too Short, The Cafe, and so on.
- Write book reviews on a semi-regular basis. Kind of fell out of the habit towards the end of the year, even when I’d written down notes of the things I’d read. Get back into this, get around to writing up my notes while the book’s still fresh in my memory.
- Try and get something up on the blog every other day, to keep in the habit of putting things ‘out there’ to be read.
- I intend to rearrange the toolbar a little, to make it a bit more user friendly.
- Try and finish something every day. There is a sort of buzz, a sense of satisfaction, at finishing things off. For a long time my writing habit has been to plan long-form, epic novels, with different plot strands weaving in and out of each other in a surprising way. However, these kind of stories, being quite ambitious, often collapse unfinished. But there’s something quite satisfying about reaching the point where something is absolutely complete – whether that’s a short article, a long article, a novella, even a chapter of a story. I often find that the satisfaction of finishing something is energising in itself, so if I’m able to finish off *something* most days… Well, it’ll be a good habit to get into.
- I’m planning to be part of Bornoffside.net’s coverage of the African Nations Cup. I’m currently in the process of writing two previews, and plan to write match reports, and possibly other things, during the tournament. Match reports will have to be written during matches, to be chopped and changed as things go on, hopefully to be up on the site within an hour of full-time. Obviously that’ll be slightly difficult from a writing perspective, but should be a good challenge.
- I’ve also got two fiction projects, very different in tone, that I intend to work on, and will reveal more detail here on the blog soon.
- Keep up to date with the blogs of others. Not strictly a writing issue, but one of politeness. I do get into the habit of going weeks, or even months, without visiting others’ blogs. Often these are my fellow aspiring writers, who’d appreciate the feedback of a few comments as much as I would. Who knows, maybe by visiting their blogs, I’ll be able to guilt-trip them into visiting mine!
- Use a writing trick I only heard about in the final weeks of last year – write while listening to either a film soundtrack or classical music. The idea is that both are often dynamic, high powered, and, having no words, don’t overpower the ideas already in our heads. Joss Whedon uses this trick, and David powers King does a weekly blog recommending a new soundtrack. I’ve written to The Planet Suite and The Dark Knight Soundtrack. And I’m listening to the music of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as I write this – I feel ****ing epic.
Those are my plans for 2013.
5 thoughts on “Writers Contract for 2013”
Yes: you’re a braver man than me!
There’s no way I could stick anywhere near to 1000 words a day! Personally, I find that setting these kinds of targets takes the enjoyment away from writing. If I was getting paid for it, that sort of thing might make more sense, but I ain’t!
Dunno. Stuff, eh?
I think the soundtrack thing is just Whedon trying to find a pattern that doesn’t exist: kind of like footballers who think they play better in the number 8 shirt.
I think something you said on a previous post, about writing being like going to the gym applies to me. I enjoy it while I’m doing it, just need to force myself to get started, and to get SOMETHING down, even when I’m not in the mood…
Quite often I can start off not really feeling it, first few hundred words are crap, then I hit a stride.
A thousand words a day may be a bit much, but it’s better being too ambitious than not ambitious enough!
That’s a big long list – looks like some of the goals lists I’ve done, though I’m keeping it shorter this year. I believe you can do it all – or at least, do the ones that matter most. 😉
The ‘classical/soundtrack’ idea is a good one. I’ve come up with a “Monastery playlist” that I use mostly for writing. It’s all instrumentals, a mix of soundtracks, classical, fiddle solos and a few other things. Included are the soundtracks for ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’ 😀
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep to all of them, but I’m thinking that if I aim high and fall a little short, I’ll reach something I’m still pretty happy with.
Thanks for the recommendations – that’s a few other things for me to try out!