Thursday, May 27, 2010

Indecision Part II: Writing

Last week I wrote about my indecisiveness as it related to my career (or lack thereof). But there’s another area of my life that’s affected by my indecision: writing.

My academic degrees are completely unrelated to writing. But I have always loved the art of the written word and hoped that someday I could pursue writing in some way, shape, or form in my free time. Years ago, I wrote a children’s book, which brought me nothing but a year’s worth of rejection letters. I have a folder overflowing with children’s poetry and short fiction that brought me another year of rejection letters (although year #2 of rejection was largely hand-written, encouraging, and constructive). I’ve been stuck on Chapter 4 of a novel for over a decade. And I have a second novel completely written. In my head.

I told you, I’m indecisive.

This year, I decided to finally make a decision about my writing.  I need to stop talking about writing and start writing. Thus, the birth of my blog. I figured a blog would get my creative juices flowing and get me into the habit of writing on a daily basis so the thought of dusting off my old, forgotten projects wouldn’t seem so daunting.

In the 5 months I’ve been blogging, I’m finding that yes, my creative juices are flowing. However, they’re mostly flowing into my blog. Those forgotten projects remain forgotten, still collecting dust. I love blogging, but it’s not getting me any closer to a book deal.

On the other hand, blogging has opened doors that I never even considered knocking on. Freelance writing for an audience other than children never occurred to me, but thanks to my blog, I've found my first real writing successes in the freelance world. Although I’m thrilled to have these opportunities, they have also added to my indecision.

Should I cut down on my blogging to spend more time working towards publication? Should I use that time to revise my children’s book and start resubmitting to publishers? Should I try to continue novel #1 or squeeze novel #2 out of my head and onto paper? Or should I pursue freelance writing, a field which I already have a pinky toe in? Is it possible to do it all?

I know what my gut is telling me to do. But do I have the guts to follow it?

Do you have unfinished projects you’d like to revisit? If you're an aspiring writer like me, what kinds of projects are you working on? 



19 comments:

  1. Pweaseeeee don't stop blogging! But yes, do whatever your heart tells me. I am terrible at writing, but I deff love to read it!

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  2. After years (and years and years) of putting my writing on hold, I recently rededicated myself to the idea of writing. Ahem...you'll note that I dedicated myself to the *idea* of writing. Not so much with the writing itself, of which I have not done quite as much as I would like. I very much understand this post, in other words.

    Last fall I participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)challenge. The idea is to fully commit yourself to the idea of writing a 50K word novel in one month. It's every November and you should be able to find the site with a simple internet search.

    It sounds insane until you sit down and really think about it. It's the equivalent of writing 1667 words a day for 30 days. I didn't finish my novel in November but it taught me a LOT. I also connected with several local aspiring writers and got involved with a writing group. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it!

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  3. Go with your gut. Dive into to any of those above projects and knock it out of the park! I would love to see you publish something and if your blog takes a little hit in the process, I know I'll forgive you!

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  4. Im a new follower of your blog (and I love it!), but I can tell that you have a gift with words and for writing. I dont think you should sell yourself short. There's no reason why you cant do all of the above. Usually the one who is holding us back from our dreams is ourself. (Sounds like a self help book doesnt it? ;) You may be old & gray when you finish, but at least you will have accomplished what you set out to do.

    I need to take my own advice. Ive had an idea for a book for several years, but have never gotten past the first chapter. Im holding myself back with doubts & fears of not being successful in my endeavor, but I think what I really need to do is redefine my idea of success.

    Good Luck with your decision. Whatever you decide will be the right choice for you!

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  5. Great topic - I know exactly what you mean - I too started blogging to motivate myself to write, but am now trying to balance blogging with other projects, including a very messy in utero book proposal - which I get to less and less the more I focus on blog articles... I'm hoping my answer might be cutting costs so we can afford a house cleaner every few weeks! But I'm interested to hear how others fit it all in, cause I'm not sure that's going to happen.

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  6. I would be sad if you stopped blogging but would understand. I am excited to hear more about your novel

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  7. That's really great what you said about "stop talking about writing..." I can't tell you how many people I talk to who say "oh, that's cool..I'd love be a writer, I fancy myself a writer but..." You just have to stay at it everyday.

    Writing is such an emotional roller coaster so that can make it hard to commit to a project. I had to take so many breaks from writing the memoir. So, you aren't alone in taking a while to finish a project. Sometimes the inspiration just isn't there and you have to stop/start a bit. Freelance stuff is good in the meantime though. I'm waiting to hear back from a few opportunities like that now. And believe me I'll be on pins and needles until memorial day is over.

    Oh, and yeah...sometimes I can't blog about half the stuff that I want to because I HAVE to focus on the things I write for publication. I always hate to do that but I know that my faithful friends will understand and accept me posting every 2 or 3 days instead of every day. Do what you need to do, and don't be scared of it. It never hurts to polish things up and send them out! You might regret it more if you don't.

    And don't hesitate to email me if you ever want to vent about the frustrating life of a newbie in the writing scene :P I'm right there with ya!

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  8. I'm a writer. I went through a funk basically all through college where I hardly wrote, only thought about writing. Then last year I decided to do NaNoWriMo because I didn't have a job and had time to do it. It was the boost I needed! I completed my novel in February and am revising it now. I also am writing the sequel. I make sure every day I write a certain amount of words (1500 before, now at least 500 when I'm editing). This usually takes me about half an hour. And then I have a certain amount of pages I need to edit per week. It's nice getting work done towards my goal. And I can still blog as much as I want!

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  9. For me it was all that was scrapbooking/paper crafting... I was a private contractor for a small craft chain here in Oregon, Craft Warehouse, and I designed things for them to put on display in their store. Made them tons of money. Until one day last year, probably sometime around November... I had to quit. They were working me to the bone, I couldn't even scrap or craft for funzies anymore. It was a very hard time for me.

    Lately I have been thinking that I am needing a new hobby. I think over this summer I will take on exercising, knitting, jewelry making, feemo, and maybe crocheting! I cant wait!

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  10. This sounds so much like me...

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  11. Oh dear, I've a funny feeling your gut instinct if followed would mean no more blogging, I do hope that's not the case. But having said that you have to follow your instincts ultimately and if you feel there is an unfinished novel or something else you need to do, then go do it. As for whether or not you have guts, no question, you most certainly do

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  12. I completely understand. But first, you don't need a writing major to be a writer. I have a writing major and I consider myself to be a writer, but I don't have anything published. Second, trust your gut and do it. Just do it! Nike is right on this one.

    I've been working on two screenplays and have been rehashing about half a dozen of my short stories. Plus, blogging stuff (when I find the time)...lately, though, I've been super busy. Haha, I almost wrote "busTy" instead of "busy." I am NOT super BUSTY! :)

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  13. If you have the luxury of not having to make a living from your writing at the moment, then concentrate on whatever project is pulling at you the strongest. You can always cut your blogging down to once or twice a week. You won't lose followers. It will be fine.

    I had a very successfully career as a TV-movie writer for about 25 years. When reality TV crushed that market, I had to reinvent myself. I didn't write a word for nearly five years and didn't think I would again until I discovered blogging. Now that I'm not dependent of writing for a living, I'm getting more enjoyment out of it than I ever have and if that leads to another type of writing career for me someday, that would be a delight, too.

    Best wishes on all your writing endeavors.

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  14. It's the ying and the yang of blogging: blogging inspires, connects, wakes you up, makes you happy and feel part of something: all of which make for good writing.

    WIthout it, would you even want to try to finish your novel. You have to take the pros and cons, b/c your writing gets honed with each day of posting...that's my take, anyway..

    Now, get going...

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  15. Best of luck to you in getting your writing schedule nailed down. One thing you may try (this helped me to focus when I went from being a biologist for 12 years to a writer of fiction) that might seem counterintuitive is to add more types of writing to your day, if you have not already. For example, each day I try to spend 20 minutes journaling, 20 minutes completing a creative writing exercise from a text book, an hour revising old work, and x amount of time emailing/blogging/other social networking. I find that forcing myself to do more but on a limited time budget actually gets my creative juices flowing and focused without distraction.

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  16. When you are stuck on Chapter 4, skip it and write Chapter 5. It works for me. :)

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  17. Thank you so much everyone for your comments with encouragement and advice! I'm still trying to figure it all out, but it'll happen!

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  18. I think that it is often hard to focus on our creative outlets as much as we do a career any other daily task. I think you can have your cake and eat it too in relation to writing for publication and writing the blog. You just need to set aside time to do each one. Maybe you blog after you have done your other "projects" for the day, or perhaps you start your day with blogging as a way to get your juices flowing.

    I think any publisher will tell you that having a great blog base will mean a great consumer base which means a little more $$ in your pocket. :)

    I struggle with this too. I blog as a creative outlet, but on the days I don't feel creative, I don't write because I hate feeling forced...then I get into a rut and don't do any of the creative things I love.

    In other words...Go for it! All of it! Just schedule your time. :)

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  19. I love to write and have had to cut down on my blogging so that I could focus more on other writing activities. I have yet to find the best balance but I'm sure that it will come soon after I finish all of these projects that I'm doing (most of them are not directly related to writing). :-)

    Blogging is a great way to get a following to promote your books, articles, etc.

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