20 January 2018

2018 Writing Goals


Photo by Steven VanDesande Jr 
on Unsplash
Something wonderful has happened since changing jobs (adjunct professor to assistant language teacher). I had hoped I would have a better work-life balance here in Japan, and that I would have time to write. 

I do!

I teach at four different schools, and I plan and institute lessons myself. I've graded papers, helped with college interviews, administered speaking tests, judged area-wide speech contests, and worked at English camps.  Despite doing so many things, I still have time to write.

The change of environment and pace has been very healthy for me and I'm so happy to say that with a clearer mind, some awesome ideas have been percolating and have made so much progress in writing.

I'm well over 100 completed pages and am writing two novels concurrently, which is something that has never happened before in my life. I have also embraced more detailed plotting. Most of my life I've been maybe 90% pantser and 10% plotter, but this time around I've transitioned to 60% pantser and 40% plotter. I've written more bare-bones plot treatments for the books using the wiki method I've written about before, which has been quite fun and really helpful, and then there's the World Book, which has also been a great side project. 

For the first time in a long time, I've felt really optimistic about where my writing is headed, and I hope to ride that optimism through 2018. 

2018 Writing Goals

  1. Don't fight my process. Graduate school was the catalyst for this, and it's continued to be something I struggle with. I have issues with writing advice and trying to follow it. I get stuck on the "this is what I have to do to succeed" and "this is what ________ author does to succeed," and then I try to do it.  This doesn't work for me because I am incapable of being someone else.  

    So, here are the things I'm "supposed to be doing" but won't:
        • Writing every day. I have finally accepted that this is impossible for me.
        • Writing on a set or recurring time of day. I've read that you can train your brain to perform a task on command if you are consistent about it. It's not just writing everyday, but writing at the same time everyday--like writing only in the mornings, or afternoons, or evenings. This is another thing I'm not able to do, so I won't try to.
        • Participating in Nanowrimo. I've decided I will never do this again. I've never won anyway, but that's not what matters. I've accepted I can't work under this kind of pressure, nor can I follow a regular writing schedule needed to complete this. And most importantly, focusing on producing word counts takes the fun out of writing, and regularly failing to meet goals sucks, too. 
        • Submitting work regularly just to get published. What I've been doing up until now is running off of a panic-filled "publish-or-perish" mindset. Because I am pretty much a nobody in the writing world, I've tried to build a catalog of published works. I've written stuff on autopilot and sent it out to build a bibliography. I was never quite proud of what I wrote until after the fact--after it got published. This seems a little off to me.  I should be proud of what I've written *before* sharing it with the world.
  2. Stop giving away my time and skills, especially to people who do not value it. I like helping people and mentoring them. This is one of the reasons why I became a teacher. Over the years when I've worked on building my author identity and cultivating a platform, I've forged relationships where I've helped people with their writing.

    In doing so, I let them take advantage of me and my time. I gave too much of myself and therefore people got used to expecting too much from me. Even when I drew the line firmly in the sand and said, "I cannot help you anymore" it wasn't enough, and I've had to ghost and block people because they wouldn't listen to what I was telling them. And I spent too much time helping other people without helping myself, and working on my own projects (shame on me!). It was a tough lesson to learn, but I've learned it. Basically:
        • Do not mentor other writers without financial compensation or full reciprocation.
        • Do not edit or proofread for other writers without financial compensation or full reciprocation.
        • Actually, do not mentor, edit, or proofread for other writers at all because I have a full-time job teaching AND I'm a writer AND I've got no time to spare.
  3. Embrace the weird and unconventional. I've been doing a lot more reading in my genre lately and I've noticed that the successful writers really go all-out with the weirdness. It's their uniqueness and bold moves that make them memorable, and keep readers coming back for more.

    This is an example of a celebrated author
    embracing the weird and going for it.
    (Phone screenshot of Jeff Vandermeer's FB).
    There have been many ideas I've come up with that seem a bit too fantastical, off-kilter, dark, or extreme. I've played it safe and self-censored because I've been too worried about what other people would think: those who know me personally, including the people at my job (especially employers), potential agents and publishers, future readers, etc. This definitely weakens my stories and certainly makes me take longer to write, let alone finish, major projects.

    My operating mantra for this year is go big or go home.
While many writers probably have more concrete goals for the year (write 100,000 words; get an agent; publish a short story) I've decided that these three components are what I need to work on in order to complete the ultimate task for 2018, which is to complete a book. Maybe even two.

Fighting myself, not allowing time for myself, and censoring myself are how I sabotage my writing and chances for success. I'm going to work on changing things for 2018 and in doing so, I have confidence I will finish my work, and that my work will be good. 

~*~

What are your writing goals for 2018? Please share in the comments!