Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for 2013

A few days ago, I found myself thinking about New Year's Resolutions. More specifically, I didn't know what to do for mine. I make one every year, usually failing early on in the year, but never really know what to do. It's a force of habit making one, with the special psychological effect of it seeming significant, even when it's not.

So, I Googled it.

As it turns out, there are common New Year's Resolutions - lose weight, give up smoking, travel, etc. - and the one big thing that lets people down? Specificity. I wrote about this on Tumblr, but the gist of it is this: if we're not specific about our Resolutions (instead of lose weight, lose a pound a week, for example) then we're much more likely to fail.

With that in mind, I thought about last year's New Year's Resolution, for 2012. I wanted to write every day. In fairness, this went quite well for some time, until I became too damn exhausted to think about what to write, and I gave up on journalling my days. That's two things I could have done but didn't, and as a result: failure.

That doesn't mean my Resolution was too ambitious. Far from it. I just didn't have my head wrapped around it properly. So for 2013, I plan on writing every single day, without fail, but with some specific help. I have a list on my wall on a sheet of yellow paper, right in my line of vision at all times, of seven things I can write, if I can't think of anything. That's seven categories, mind you, not seven items. In order, they are:

  1. A blog post,
  2. A poem,
  3. A flash story,
  4. 500 words of a novella,
  5. 500 words of an article,
  6. A video script, and
  7. 500 words of a non-fiction book.
Going by my schedule, the first three are to be posted every week - on Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively - and everything else is an added bonus. I have more detail per point on the poster, but the main thing is that there are options available to me.

Click the appropriate link:
To make the articles easier to write, I haven't left myself without some help. In a green envelope on my desk, right underneath the poster, there are assignment cards (on coloured paper, don't you know). Each assignment is a word or phrase, with space to plan (roughly) around that word. When the article(s) per assignment are written, the assignment then goes into the red envelope on my desk. Why? Think of it like traffic lights: green to go, red to stop.

So far, I have 40 cards in the envelope, but I have a whole list of topics I still have to put onto card to add in. What this boils down to is more than one assignment per week, if I so chose to write articles all the time, by the time I actually put everything onto cards. All of these assignments, however, are based on one thing: writing. I have ideas for other areas of interest that aren't in the envelope, because I want to be able to write them without chance being involved.

Yes, chance. I won't know until I take out an assignment what it will be. I have five different colours of paper in the envelope, so currently eight assignments per colour. That's already more than enough for me to forget what's written on what colour paper. I can't choose at all. I did that so I wouldn't get caught up thinking I have to write an article about something, even if I didn't especially want to.

Not all of these articles will make it online, of course. Being split as they are into subjects, I could easily choose to make the topics parts of a book. This enables me to keep focused, and should encourage me to keep writing from the green envelope every day I find myself stuck for something to write about.

Writer's Block, you can consider yourself vanquished.

So, there it is, my New Year's Resolution, and how I plan to kick it's ass. 2013 is going to be a busy year, that's for sure, but I think my Resolution is definitely manageable.

What about you? What are you doing for New Year's?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Without Time

I had great intentions to set myself up with a running schedule. I mentioned that, last time, I would like to post a Friday Flash story, and a poem on Wednesdays, and a blog on Mondays. While I did manage to get the poem posted onto YouTube - which was a new and fun experience for me - I didn't get to write the flash story.

This was, by and large, because I didn't actually have the time when everything else was taken into consideration. I imagination I'll have a similiar problem again this Friday, though I don't have an entire Comedy Journal to do for college. I just find that when I don't have the idea already in my head, coming up with the whole flash story on the day is a bit...tiring. Attempting to write the whole story from scratch within an hour, then, is nearly impossible. I had started writing one, and one I would have enjoyed if I had gotten it down in my head properly, but I started off wrong and it only got worse.

Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll get to write a story this week. That would be nice, if it can be done. We'll see, sure.

In the meantime, I can at least do the work I need to that would keep everything else in check. By that, I mean get another poem up on YouTube. I might write a new one, just for that, or work from a backlist of poems I have that I'm happy with. I'll have to see how much time I actually have to do that.

As it is, I had wanted to do a video for Project For Awesome (P4A) this year, but didn't get a chance. With the  full time hours I currently have in work and all the business of Christmas to deal with, getting to do much else is difficult (especially when I'm also doing the last bit of college work that needs doing before Christmas!).

I'm hoping this isn't the way things will always be. Actually, I know it's not. When I'm only doing the one thing - working or college - I can manage fine. Right now, I'm attempting the full time hours and the college work that needs to be done. So, I'm without the extra time I need to do everything else I want to do, and still talk to my family.

Anyway, this has just been my long winded explanation as to why (a) I didn't have a flash story up on Friday and (b) why I didn't get to make a P4A video. With a couple of days off ahead of me, maybe I'll get to sort out a few of the things that have been on my mind lately. I'll be a busy boy, that's for sure!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Working Through Christmas

As of last Friday, I've been on my Christmas holidays from college. In previous years, this has meant a month off, usually getting to relax, watch too many movies and a whole season of a TV show, or something to that effect. This year, I'm the most available part-timer in the bookshop, so I've been given a lot of hours. There are some pros and cons to this. Obvious pros include keeping myself in a rhythm and not having to re-adjust my sleep pattern come January, and actually having money after buying Christmas presents.

The cons include losing any chance to have a "lie in", and not being able to do other work that might appeal to me at this time of the year.

I don't think I can really complain. I can grumble, and I will, because it won't feel like Christmas is coming for a very long time, but all in all I'm happy to have a lot of hours. Truth be told, it'll be better for me than if I were just staying at home 4-5 days of the week for a month. I remember what that was like in the summer months. By and large, the productivity levels dropped to a standstill after a week or so. Now, I'll value all the time I have off.

I had wanted to use that time in specific ways, but there have been some delays with my teaching placement material. I'm hoping that can all be resolved shortly, so I don't have to worry and I can just get on with the extra curricular work I want to do.

Part of that includes writing the sequel to Balor Reborn, because it's been a long time coming. However, I can make no guarantees on that front. It's likely it'll take a longer period of time to produce the finished book than it took me to write Balor Reborn, because I had a lot more time to work with in July. Not to worry. It's on the list, and that's what matters.

It's also alongside a number of other projects, including an attempt to share more poetry. Taking a page from my own (e)book - Writing Gifts on a Shoestring - I'll be taking some initiative and sharing some poems that were written for fun. I'll probably use the same method on pre-existing poems on my website, just to get them all shared in a similar manner, but then the rest will be rarely seen pieces. It'll be a bit of craic, anyway.

In the meantime, though, I have to write a comedy journal. It's college work like that that have prevented me from updating this blog in a while. That, and Drama. In the space of a month, I wrote and directed a nativity play, falling into what I hope to be a series of plays surrounding The Jerry Davidson Show, in which all manner of overtly religious individuals from the Bible appear on his show to solve their relationship problems. It was a hoot, but time consuming, and not something I'd advise anyone else to do in their final year of college!

Anyway, this blog post is part of what I hope to make a schedule from. Monday: blog post. Wednesday: poem. Friday: flash story. If I can't produce three items per week, there's something wrong. I'm also hoping that, time allowing, I'll be able to add an article to my website every weekend, too. That'll be decided by how much time and energy I have at the end of the college week. With teaching placement in January, and full time hours in the bookshop before that, too, it's not likely I'll get a start on that until February. We'll see, anyway.

What about you? How are you getting yourself to write more?