Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Writing goals

Writing Prompt #4: Acknowledge that writing is hard. Write it down. Then write about how
you are going to make writing happen. How will you find the balance in
yourself to combine willpower with relaxation, stubbornness with joy?
Write about how you've struck this balance in the past with writing, a
sport, playing an instrument--anything you've done.

Writing is hard (even if it's typing). I am going to make writing happen by
1) following these writing prompts
2) jotting down whatever ideas come into my head
3) taking the time to revisit and actually write about ideas I've written down, even if I'm not inspired by them at the moment.
4) setting aside time every morning to write

Willpower means sitting down to write every day. I might need more willpower to wake up at an earlier time that makes this feasible. Relaxation can be achieved by allowing myself to stop writing after an hour if I'm stuck, but also allowing me to continue writing until I am done. I should also get up at least once an hour to walk around (sitting down for 2 hours hurts). I'm seldom stubborn about writing, except when I should really be doing something else. I suppose I'm stubborn about changing my writing sometimes. I can cut stuff out of my writing if I really think it will make it better though. I like to interject extraneous anecdotes and interesting digressions, but if I can develop them into separate pieces of writing, then I'll feel better about letting them go. Joy is when I'm inspired and have the time to write.

I don't tink I've ever struck a balance with writing. I tend to write in spurts, whether it be a 3 hour blog post when I should be doing something else, or an all-nighter for a paper. I have to admit, I do sometimes let ideas marinate in my head for awhile before recording them; a product of having nothing to do on long commutes. My approach to homework in general wasn't that great: put it off until completion is only barely assured at a reasonable hour, then work on it with a perfectionist's mindset until done. Sometimes I would also do homework in class instead of socializing with classmates or giving my teacher my full attention.

The closest I've gotten to having a balance was with karate.  Karate was a class, so it was always at 7:30pm twice a week, and I would go to extra practice Sunday morning. Classes would last at least an hour. Sunday practice would last at least two hours. You could practice more if you arrived early or left late. There were many days that I didn't feel like going to karate, but I would force myself, telling myself that if I skipped one day, I would skip another, or that I'd gone to karate in worse condition, or that it was just an hour, and that I would feel better afterwards. I always did, although once or twice I had to sit down from anemia. Most of the time though, one would walk out of the dojo with a sense of accomplishment, relaxation, joy, and a rush of endorphins.

Writing is an art, but I find most artists far too indulgent with themselves; always seeking inspiration for their poetry or painting. I think a better model would be a classical musician. Classical musicians practice several hours a day. They are critical enough of themselves so that they find something to practice, something meaningful to work on and improve. They may not be inspired all of the time, but the hone their skills every day. All of that private practice and group rehearsal for a couple of performances.

I was not always a diligent piano player, but when I was I was methodical about my practice. I started out with nearly 20 minutes of just scales, as my teacher wanted. Then I would practice each piece I had for a certain amount of time. The first couple of times as a warm-up. Then I would choose something such as tempo or expression. If I had a problem spot, I would practice that until it was right. At these points, my daily practice time would exceed an hour and still not seem adequate.

If I apply that to writing, then I need to hone my skills every day. I need to set goals for how I want my writing to become. To do that, I get to spend more time reading to figure out what I admire in writing, even if it doesn't necessarily apply to mine. To practice my basics, I could write poetry, emphasizing rhyme or rhythm. I could do vignettes for plot or mood. For longer pieces, I would tackle any problem spots. Every once in awhile, I can work on something I truly find inspiring. If I do that enough times, maybe something will stick.

Writing goals:
  1. Apt alliteration, perhaps assonance and consonance
  2. Figure out if I want to keep writing sentence fragments. Or use dashes.
  3. Figure out what makes a good plot. Try to write more plot-oriented fiction.
  4. Mood sketches
  5. Character sketches
  6. Write a piece from 3 different points of view
  7. Increase humor with imaginative analogies and appropriate randomness (figure out when my writing is funny and why)

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