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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When Your Own Bad Writing Makes You Sick

Ever look back and read work you’ve done in the past to realize it sucks so bad you almost feel physically ill?

Yep, that happened to me in a big way Sunday. The previous week my son started school on Wednesday, so I started working on my new novel with gusto (I’d been waiting all summer to start!), but realized I had some background information and research that needed to be done first. Then I got the bright idea to read the half completed first draft of my second novel (Dark Territories) over the weekend. God, what a horrible, awful, terrible disappointment that turned out to be.

I couldn’t even get all the way through two chapters before I decided I’d had enough, because I was real close to vomiting. Yeah, it was that bad. And I can’t even pinpoint one specific thing that was terrible. There was a well balanced amount of terribleness from stiff and completely out of character dialogue to plot leaps that would make a mountain goat proud. There were tie-ins from one story arc to another that left me wondering exactly how much I had to drink that day. And please don’t even get me started on my long windedness. I could probably make a schooner set sail with all that blustering air moving about in each scene.

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Finding the Time to Write

This year I decided not to do NaNoWriMo despite my success at doing the challenge the last four years. Mostly because my time schedule just wouldn’t allow for it. I resigned myself to “hopefully” completing rewrites/edits for two chapters of my current novel in progress, and I figured that would be a stretch.

Guess what?

I got four chapters done.

Freaking awesome. I know. Sure it may not be much, but I doubled my best case scenario expectations. And it feels good. It feels real good. How did I do it? How was I able to go from my recent writing norm of completing maybe one chapter a month to four? And still not skimp on my other “paying” work that needed to be done. Well, I changed things up a bit.

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NaNoWriMo: An Alternative Challenge


It’s almost that time again. November is just around the corner, which means it’s NaNoWriMo again. Are you ready to pump out 50,000 words in 30 days? It’s a great way to work on that novel or novella you’ve been putting off. It’s a great challenge to see what you are made of and how far you can push yourself. I did the challenge in 2009 and managed to complete 50,000 words with two days to spare! It was fun, exciting, as well as, an eye-opener of my limitations and capabilities as a writer (when I started it, I really didn’t think I would be able to make the 50,000 word goal, but I pushed through anyways). It taught me how to write without the inner editor, the creative benefits of writing everyday, how to organize my life so that I could write everyday and that I could push myself to reach any goal if I wanted it bad enough. It also taught me how exhausting writing 50,000 words in a month is and that I really don’t need to do that again any time soon. One time was enough, but I highly recommend the challenge if you have not tried it before. If you want to learn more about the official NaNoWriMo check it out here.

Even though I don’t intend on sweating through 50,000 words, I still would like the benefit of working towards a goal. I was inspired by a friend’s blog to do my own alternative challenge for the month of November.

This is how it works (information from A Writer’s Journey)…

The focus of this challenge is to get writers to finish their projects, or work through writer’s block, or just get a block of writing done, they might not normally be able to achieve.

  • You can write on ANY project, regardless if its fiction or non-fiction.
  • You can write on any project you’ve already started, and hope to complete.
  • You can select any word count daily or weekly to achieve at the end of the November month.
  • You must stick to your word count. Break it up into daily but also weekly challenges. This will allow for sick days or breaks you might require. For example, you can select 1000 words a day, which equals 7000 words  a week. Providing you’re writing that goal at the end of the week, you ‘win’.
  • You do not have to show your writing, or the word count. We’re trusting you to be honest with yourself.

Want to know more? Check out A Writer’s Journey to find out how to participate and some great benefits of being a part of this alternative challenge.

I for one plan on signing up. My goal will be 500 words a day for a grand total of 15,000 words on a novella I already have in the works. I also plan on blogging and working on another short story for an anthology commitment that I have, but this won’t be in the official word count, so I will actually be writing much more than the 15,000 words. It will be tough to fit in my shedule, but I think with some perseverance and forethought it can be done. I welcome the challenge and motivation!

I will be keeping track of my word count on my blog (can be found at the top right column of my blog under NaNoWriMo Alternative Challenge heading) and updating it at least once a week, possibly more. Feel free to post your own word counts in the comment section of this post or on your own blog. I look forward to taking the challenge with you!

Writing Challenge: A Challenge for All

Writing is something that I truly love to do, but even that love can falter by my personal shortcomings, so I find that in challenging myself to be better I can plow through some of my procrastination and self doubt. Every once in a while I like to come up with challenges for myself that gets me motivated, drives me forward, and expands my experience that much more.

Right now my challenge to myself is to write 50 articles for www.associatedcontent.com by the end of April. I started at the beginning of March and so far I have 12 articles and have a multitude of others in the works as well as a notebook full of ideas. I’m not sure if I’ll reach my magical number of 50, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge so far. It will not only help me work on a deadline, but it will give me a library of articles to use to help promote my writing abilities, and with every word I write I become better at my craft. If you wish you help support my efforts go to my contributor page to check out a listing of articles.

I also want to throw out a challenge for all fellow writer’s everywhere to actively challenge yourself to be better in your craft. You can only become better by doing. Whether it be submitting for a writing contest, writing articles for an online site, or some other self imposed challenge, it is important to constantly try to find ways to motivate yourself to be better. I implore you to take up a torch and let it shine!


Do you need some ideas? Check out some of the areas below for places to submit your work and come up with your own challenge.

Online Magazines
Associatedcontent
Helium
Ezine

Writing Contests
Writer’s Digest

Or check out a listing of writing contest at Poets and Writers.

Fiction Submission
Flash Fiction Online
Pill Hill Press

Or search for your own magazines to submit at with www.duotrope.com

Are you not ready to start submitting yet? Then try focusing your challenge at expanding your knowledge on a specific area you feel weak in like: plotting, dialogue, characterization, grammar, punctuation, ect.

It doesn’t matter what kind of challenge you make for yourself, the important thing is to simply dare to be better. Please feel free to post comments in the comment section for this blog on a challenge you decide to complete and maybe together we can help motivate each other!

The Excuse

Yeah, it’s that guilty pleasure that we indulge in way too often called the excuse. It’s another way to procrastinate and to tell ourselves it’s alright to put something off. I’m exceptionally guilty of this particular offense. If there is an excuse in the book, I’ve used it and this couldn’t be more true than with my writing.

We discussed the issue of ‘painful writing’ today at my writer’s meeting. Some people don’t seem to have this problem, but for the rest of us out there who do… well you know what I’m talking about. It’s sitting at the laptop and feeling it building as soon as you fire the device up. The worst of it hits full force as soon as the document file opens up. Black and white text stares back mocking you, but you suddenly remember something you forgot to do that just has to be done right that moment, so what do you do? That’s right, you jump up to go do it real quick and then conveniently forget that you’d actually intended to get some writing done that day. Yeah, you feel smug because you got so much accomplished for the day, except for the one thing that you really want to do… to write.

Sound familiar? Maybe not. Maybe you fight the pain and work through it like a brave champion, sometimes I can do it too. But I’d be a liar to say I didn’t allow excuses to lead to some serious bouts of procrastination (like this past week for instance). This, of course, applies to other things in life as well, not just writing. I find that I’m well rounded and don’t discriminate at different things I make excuses for.

So how do we avoid the excuse and the procrastination that comes from it? Well, I find a good swift kick in the rear end helps (this is usually supplied by good friends who don’t mind offering their feet for the task). Then there is the guilt that lingers and acts as a motivator after especially long periods of procrastination. There is also keeping yourself in a good supply of goals and motivational techniques.

A great motivational technique is envisioning what you want to get out of what your trying to strive for, but also remember not to set your ambitions so high you’ll never reach them. There is nothing more frustrating than climbing to a goal you never feel like you’ll be able to achieve. Baby steps is the key. So break those goals up into bite size chunks that you can tackle, because there is nothing quite as motivational as a goal achieved.

Here comes the pain and I shall embrace it, because to not do so would mean even worse agony down the road. After all, procrastination only hurts yourself, especially in the self confidence category. Ouch.