How Do We Become the Person We Always Wanted to Be?

The Mirror of Merlin

 

“But you also have choices. Yes — and choices are nothing less than the power of creation. Through them, you can create your own life, your own future, your own destiny… By your choices you might even create an entirely new world, one that will spring into being from the ruins of the old.” — T.A. Barron from The Mirror of Merlin

 

Is it luck? Is it perseverance? Is it some combination of the two? Or maybe its an age-old secret only handed down to a select few? Or maybe the answer lies somewhere else entirely? How do we truly become the person we always wanted to be?

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Writing, a Never Ending Journey of Exploration and Learning

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow

If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.

When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.

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Goals for 2015

As always I like to make a few goals for myself for the new year. I like to cement it here on my blog for accountability, but also I feel when I put something in writing I am more likely to get it done. I try not to go overboard and do unrealistic goals that I couldn’t get done in five years if I tried. In fact, this year I am keeping it simple with just a few things I want to try for, but they are significant to me.

Goal 1… And I know I’ve been saying this for the last two years, but for once I really do see this as a possibility… finish my novel Blood Feud. I’m at the halfway point in the fourth draft. All I have to do is finish the fourth draft and go through and do a quick polish draft and it will be DONE. I think it’s very reasonable to think I can get all that done in 2015.

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Writing for Me

I ventured onto my blog today to answer a comment a reader left and realized it’s been nearly a month since I’ve updated. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of ignoring my blog and pouring all my time into my my novel and the several short stories I’ve been working on. So today I’ve decided to do a update about my writing and why I’ve been ignoring my blog.

Since I began the journey of writing with the goal of writing for myself instead of trying to be a published author (late last year), writing has become much more fun and exciting! The ideas flow much easier and I’m just a happier person all around. It doesn’t mean I won’t pursue publication, but I’m no longer writing to fit a certain niche or what I think people want to read. I write what I want to read, and it makes a big different.

I have so many story ideas now I couldn’t possibly write them all out (at least not with the time restraints I have now). And yet, I still continue to have spontaneous ideas popping up at the strangest times. In fact, I was trying to relax in a bath the other day and a whole story just developed in one whole lump from start to finish in a matter of half an hour. After that I got out, got dressed, and sat down to the keyboard. Two hours later I had a full rough draft of a 3,700 words story finished. Yet another example of something happening because I didn’t force it. I wrote because I wanted to and it felt good. Real good.

The novel I’ve been working on since this past spring (Blood Feud) has gone much the same way. It’s a story that I wish I could read, but no one has written it yet, so I am taking it on myself to do the task. It’s been a fun ride so far. Don’t get me wrong, writing is hard work- very hard, but the joy of writing the novel far exceeds the grueling hours and dedication I put into it. Crazy I know, but it’s something I look forward to doing every single morning that I wake up. I might not be able get a chance to write on my novel everyday like I want, but I think about it and hope that I can find the time.

That is what writing should be. Something to look forward to with eagerness. Not something to dread or push until it hurts. I write for me. Sure no one may care to read what I write, but that’s okay. My work may not be what publishers are looking for. I don’t care, I write for me. And yes I’ve been ignoring my blog, because I have been too busy writing for… well, do I really have to say it again??? As long as I write for me, I will enjoy writing. So how about you guys, do you write for you?

The Amazing Benefits of Freewriting

There are many tools in a writer’s toolbox, but none is as helpful as the simple practice of freewriting. It’s something that I picked up in my writing journey, which I used- but never fully appreciated- until I learned how powerful it could really be. This happened after reading the book How to Be a Writer by Barbara Baig. Nearly all her exercises, in the 265 page book, uses different variations of simple freewrite and focused freewriting. After doing several of the exercises, I found that all the freewriting I’d done up to that point was really just a warm-up. I never took it to the next level, because I hadn’t realized I wasn’t doing freewriting nearly enough (it should be done everyday), or even asking the right questions to do focused freewriting.

Freewriting is a remarkable tool that has, in a short period of time, led me to amazing discoveries about myself and my writing. The act of writing my thoughts directly onto the page, without any censorship, has given me the ability to articulate things that I wanted to say, but never knew how to say. It even unearthed things I never expected, and has led me down an entirely new path of writing, which I never would have seen without the process of freewriting.

What is freewriting and how does it work? It is actually a very simple process of writing either with pen and paper, or computer- whichever you feel more comfortable- for at least ten minutes without stopping (I use pen and paper because I find it’s easier to let go of the editor and just write). Turn that inner editor off! Don’t erase or correct mistakes! Keep writing no matter what! Set a timer, or an alarm if you want to keep the freewriting limited in time (at the very least do ten minutes, if not more).

If you run out of ideas to write about, then just keep writing, “I don’t know what to write now,” until something pops up. Believe me, once you let the gate open, a flood of ideas will hit and you might even find it difficult to stop. I usually want to keep going, but have to move on to something else (but will come back later to explore more). Other times, I find that I’ve exhausted my ideas, and move then on to another subject to freewrite on, or another writing project all together.

The beauty of freewriting is that you can freewrite on anything you chose. It can be a journal; a way to help get rid of the random thoughts, or the list of things you need to get done that day, or an argument you just had with the next door neighbor–or what I like to call “junk”- filling your head any given day. Once that junk has been expelled, other ideas are free to float to the surface. The freewriting can be on a specific subject or topic you want to write about. It can be on a new character that’s been haunting you. It can be, “I don’t want to do this” over and over. It doesn’t matter. Keep the pen moving! The point is to let yourself go and see where it takes you.

In doing this, you may wander into territory you don’t want to touch on, so change the direction. You may even find something new to explore that you never considered before. It’s up to you where you go and how long you want to go there. Just don’t have any expectations for your writing and allow yourself to enjoy the journey. You are in control!

The most important is to keep any freewriting you do private. This gives you the freedom and you need to explore without judgment from others. The pressure is off and you no longer feel like you have someone looking over your shoulder. It is just you and your thoughts. Doing this will eventually boost your confidence as a writer, and will also let you just practice being a writer.

As important as it is for others not to judge your work in this practice stage, that goes double for yourself. If you find what you are writing “terrible” or “wonderful”, just ignore it, and move on. There will be plenty of time later to decide to polish up an idea, or just dump it all together. Right now, all that matters are the words being poured onto the page. Those elusive words and ideas are no longer hiding inside your crowded mind, but in solid form ready for you to use in any matter you chose. So keep that pen moving, and let the ideas flow!

Check out More on Focused Freewriting to know more about the freewriting process.