Thursday, April 17

Targets and plans

I have an instinctive dislike of anything that tells me how to write. To be honest, I don't like being told how to do anything, unless I've asked. With writing, it's the assumption that you have to do things a certain way to be good at it. To produce enough of it. To be a 'real' writer.

Set aside a certain time each day. Hah. My work schedule is rather too random to arbirtraly donate a certain amount of it to writing.

Always draft by hand. No. I actually type faster than I write, for a start, and I've been writing on a computer since I was about five years old. Writing by hand doesn't make me feel any more connected to my writing.

Give yourself a daily target. Why? All it'll do is make me stop, rather than make me start.

The problem with most of this advice is that it's geared towards people who want to be professional writers. If writing is your job, then most of it's reasonable advice, I suppose, but it presupposes that it's what every amateur author wants to do for a living.

I work in a museum. I love it. I get to play with swords, and dress up as a Victorian, and lurk outside windows and talk about castles. For research, it's just brilliant. I even have time to write. Most of the time, I can't believe people are paying me for it. While it's not a job I plan to keep forever, it's certainly in the right industry for me, and I do want to have a job.

Professional authors work from home; it's fairly obvious. I grew up with a parent who worked from home, for convenience reasons, and it convinced me that I couldn't stand it. I like on time and off time, and I lack the discipline to provide that for myself. I spend all day not working, and feeling guilty about it (too guilty to do anything else productive, like clean), and punish myself by working when there are other things I want to do for pleasure. The only way I could be a professional author would be if I had an office and a boss to keep me motivated.

Writing is my hobby. If it was my job, I don't think I'd enjoy it as much. Writing is something I do to unwind, to amuse myself, and to keep busy. It's not something I ever want to do for a living; I want it to be a counterpoint to my living. And I want to make up my mind when I want to do it. I'm more in the mood to write after a half day at work than I am on a full day, or even a day off. I'm more in the mood to write when it's raining, and when it's dark. I don't like to do it just after I've woken up, or shortly before I go to bed. I like to have a cup of tea to hand.

So, I'm ditching all that patronising, presumptive advice, and making my own plans. Weekly plans.

Edit at least one chapter of Greenhelm a week.

Make at at least one blog post a week (it keeps me thinking about writing).

-Fill at least one page in my notebook a week, preferably not with notes for a blog post, but accept that during school holidays, even that may not be possible (too busy at work, too tired after).

Try and sit at my desk to do at least one of these things.

This means that, within a year, I should have completed the redraft of Greenhelm, started the next book and/or completed a significant chunk of one of my other projects (The Dark is the best one to switch to when Greenhelm starts to melt my brain). I should have written several more short stories, which hopefully will be ready for submission (and my current submissions ready for another round, if necessary). I should have stayed focused.

Also, I should try and schedule more than one day off work at a time at least once a month. Just because it's nice to have the occasional day with absolutely nothing to do, not even buy food or pay bills or clean ovens. Or write, if I don't want to!

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