Developing the habit

Today the post man delivered my “like new” copy of Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop (2nd Ed. © 2008) from Amazon.com.  It’s basically an instructive text with guided exercises for fiction writing, much like that which might be discussed and assigned in a writing class or workshop, with suggestions to self-critique the results (since I will be without peers, classmates  or an instructor to help with that aspect).

I realize that I need to do two things as I chase down (at this point, it’s probably more like I am still just sniffing out) my dream to write and publish a novel: 1) practice, practice, practice, and 2) develop a habit of writing regularly.  So, I plan to make a concerted effort to sit down a couple of nights a week for at least 30 minutes at a time, and tackle the exercises, posting the results here.

Gentle, constructive criticism is welcomed, albeit a bit hesitantly.  Be kind, cruel world – I’m tentatively foraying into the world of fiction writing and haven’t built up a thick skin yet with respect to my writing.  (I still don’t even let my husband read my writing!)  Encouragement is, of course, always appreciated – supportive words regarding my effort to discipline myself to stick with the plan are particularly valued!

If this works as I hope, then this just might be the best $2.50 (plus shipping) I have ever invested!

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Blog Writer’s Block

Only three posts in and I’ve already hit writer’s block.  I thought I’d get farther, though I can’t say I am surprised.  As I mentioned previously, I was never a “Dear Diary…” kind of girl.  Sure, I had a number of diaries throughout my childhood – plain, decorative, locking, and the kind with the elastic band around it – I am fairly certain such is a rite of passage for pre-pubescent girls.  While I am pretty sure I remember starting each of them, none ever got filled.  It was a habit that I never was able to cultivate.

I enjoy writing, and love talking about myself, so it seems like keeping a diary is a natural fit.  But, I have found through the years, that adding a habit to my daily routine is something I find difficult – particular when it’s a habit that has no perceptible, immediate benefit.   (Sorry Mr. Dentist, daily flossing just keeps eluding me.)  So, the fact that my blogging has already waned comes as no great shock.  It doesn’t help that no one is reading (thanks, stat tracking), so I’ve got no one to account to but myself – and frankly, I let myself slide on a great many things when no one else has expectations.

So why the lapse in blogging (or writing in my diary as a kid)?  Well the aforementioned lack of immediate response or tangible benefit are true.  But still, so much of the process and the end result (a written piece that I wrote and can read and re-read) should be appealing enough.  Laziness?  Apathy?  Is it really writer’s block?  Do I actually have nothing to say?  Banish the thought, since that will put quite a damper on my secret dream of becoming a published author.

I can confess, that while I’ve been anemic in my blogging, I have put some effort into my story writing.  Since my story is one taking place in a completely fictitious land, I took the time to draw a map, two actually, of the land where the story unfolds – in color, no less.  It helped refine the story a bit, visually working out where things needed to be, what things just didn’t fit, what things were missing.  The maps also pointed out the black gaping holes in the story – stretches of nothing on paper that begged for some topographical reflection of the fictional happenings.  I imagine that the maps will be living documents until the meat of the story is down, but for the most part they seem to reflect what my mind’s eye sees.  I am no artist, nor a cartographer, but I think they came out decent enough for my purposes.

So, while I am not actually, physically writing, I am mentally working out bits and parts of the story.  Is that a cop out?  Does that qualify as writing, or is it a form of denial of writer’s block?  Really, I think its laziness – an inability to cultivate the good habit of sitting down at regular intervals for set periods of time to write.  And that is something I’ve never been able to do since the days of my blank little locked diaries.  But it is something I am just going to have to do.  A habit I had hoped to establish by blogging.

Apparently starting good habits is just as hard as stopping bad ones!