I hope that, when I look back over my writing career, I recognise 2012 as an important year. I think quite a bit has changed in the way I approach writing, and it’s starting, in small ways, to pay off. If you’d asked me, I’d have always said I wanted to write – but anyone can say that they want to write a book. In fact, I’ve got four half-novels and a dozen quarter-short stories on my hard drive, but very little actual finished work.
During 2012, though, I have finished three short stories, self-published, on kindle, one previously written, and learned how to create e-books, written three articles for The Yorkshire Times and have the full outline of a novel.
If you don’t get your work out there, you’ll never be successful. I can write as much and as brilliantly as anyone in the world, and if I never show anyone other than my boyfriend and mum, I’ll never be a successful writer. Taking steps by reading at the Ilkley Literature Festival, self-publishing (and telling people that I’d done it!) and writing for an online paper all helped me to get more confident with sending my work out. I also submitted entries to four different competitions and three magazines; saly nothing has come of any of that in terms of publication but the point is: I sent it out. I let other people see my work and opened myself up to comment and potential criticism.
Motivation and Inspiration
Living with someone who also actively pursues a creative career is incredibly motivating, and I can’t say strongly enough how much he’s helped me write, by encouraging me to take the time to do it, talking about ideas and the writing process with me, and simply by believing that I can be a writer. I’m also more motivated to make this a regular part of my life because I want to be able to make money from it one day in the not so distant future; I’m still very much figuring out how to do that, but I think that I am more motivated than I have ever been. I also have more ideas – my notebook is filled with snippets of story ideas, and I never sit at the computer and think ‘I don’t know what to write about’. I might not always know what to write next but that’s a different problem!
Spending time reading about writing, reading other authors’ blogs and books, both about their writing process and stories themselves, has also been incredibly useful and something I’d honestly done very little of before, but want to increase.
Getting organised and setting goals
This again is a big one that I’m learning all the time, and living with someone that wants to do the same thing. I’ve always been quite organised in terms of what I need to do, but when it comes to writing I’ve been used to sitting hen the mood takes me, pottering about, playing, writing a draft without really knowing what I’m doing – tinkering, in other words. Playing at being a writer rather than being a writer. This year, though, I’ve experimented with setting different goals for myself – seeing what works best whether it’s time spent, word counts, or stories completed, and working out how to set goals that I can achieve alongside my full-time job which I also give a lot of time to at home. Getting more organised in how I write has also been important. I have started planning the whole story first – not rocket science, I know, but a part of turning away from the floaty ‘oh, I’ll see’ school of writing to a more professional attitude. It also means I should always know what I need to write when I open my laptop, because I know what the next scene is, and I’m not wasting time on a story that won’t go anywhere.
I don’t always get these things right – I’m usually too eager to dive into writing without thorough planning – but I am getting better, and I intend to keep getting better.
While I want to think of 2012 as an important year, I want to be able to look back at 2013 and think: that was the year things started to happen. I want to release a collection of short stories on ebook and maybe use kickstarter to fund a hard copy. I want to be able to find/create book covers for my stories to make them appear more professional and sellable. I want to be able to market my stories, so that I do start to see some money from them. I want to keep writing interesting and curious stories that I enjoy reading, and I can share with other people.
Even if I flounder along the way, Janus should give me confidence – the god whom January is named for was not just celebrated at the turn of the new year, but the turn of the month, week, even day. And so if I miss one goal? I’ll move on to the next.