Getting back to basics

When I first started writing, I had a plan. It wasn’t a particularly detailed plan, but there was a focus to it. My plan was to write as much as I could, while learning about the process of writing at the same time. In the beginning, this was relatively straightforward. The first books about writing that I read were more about tackling your inner editor and giving yourself permission to write – badly, if need be. I read Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, and Anne Lamott, and I got words down on the paper. Then I branched out with my reading and started reading books about different types and genres of writing, and about techniques, and I practiced. It was all very amateur, but it gave me a purpose while I was on maternity leave and my bigger career and life plans were on hold.

Then life got busy again, and I had to scale back on my writing and reading. This year, I’ve had a couple of knocks to my confidence, and recently I’ve felt myself turning away from my writing to focus on more everyday things. The main issue has been that I’m at a bit of a crossroads with my writing, and my life in general. If I’m honest with myself, I’d love to be writing all the time, and make it the focus of my career. But sadly, it’s not an option for me. I need to train for a career that can help pay the bills, which is why I’ve chosen to go back to uni and do my psychology conversion course. Only now that it’s looming nearer to the start date and I’m quickly running out of all that lovely spare time I had (3 days a week to myself), I’m panicking slightly. I need to make sure I’ve got my writing time and inspiration in the bag before I start.

So I need to make a new plan for my writing life.

I need to put my memoir on the back burner for a few months (bar the odd submission to agents, because you never know…) and work on a new project. I can do nothing more with it at the moment. So from now on, the only memoir pieces I shall focus on will be shorter pieces for competitions and any other calls for submission that sound interesting.

I need to get back to the comic novel I started (The Library Letters) and really myself a chance with it. I got up to around 17,000 words, but it’s got so many plot gaps that I’m a bit stuck. I’m discovering that I’m not really as much of a pantser as I thought. I think I need to structure it more before starting writing again. So I’m going back to the books.

I’m going to start with a series by K. M. Weiland about outlining and structuring novels, and maybe even have a go at the workbooks. I will use this blog to chart about where I am with the project.

I also need to read more generally, which is another little project I am going to set for myself and I’m also going to use my blog to chart it. So, by the end of the year I will read ‘Reading Like a Writer’ by Francine Prose, and I will also try to finish two fairly easy classic novels that I started earlier in the year and didn’t finish: Northanger Abbey and Oliver Twist.

And I hope to be writing again very soon.

(P.S. I must also learn more about blogging and figure out how to make this blog look more professional. I’m so hopelessly non-technically minded that I just keep putting it off. But I shall figure it out!)