Aaah…another night of watching my current favorite shows on TV, True Blood and Breaking Bad, and admiring the accomplishments of the show’s actors, creators and writers. Wouldn’t I just love to be involved in something at that high of a level. Well – wouldn’t I????
Uh, yeah. I would. And there are many other things I would love to be involved in, creatively speaking. But here’s the proverbial rub: wanting and doing are just two completely different things. Bummer. I can imagine some really wild and clever little scenarios that would make (in my oh-so-humble opinion) great stories, movies, graphic novels and so on. But at this stage of current technology, we little humans are still required to actually make an effort if we want our creative ramblings to be appreciated.
When I relocated to a new state a few years back, most of my worldly possessions had to go. I wasn’t going to cart (or pay to move) all of the myriad of nonsense I had clung to over the years. It also seemed like a great time to chuck my old crappy desktop, and start fresh with a new model when I arrived at my destination. This necessitated saving everything to disc, which I zipped up into a handy case, tossed in with my other valuables, and took with me to my new home – where I promptly ignored it completely. Fast forward to the other night when I could have sworn I had another chapter to a dusty old novel idea I started approximately 8 years ago, and the subsequent “aha” when I remembered that case with the discs in it.
Hmmm…I wonder what else might be on there? Sure enough, it took me two hours to even get to the chapter from dusty old novel, as I was busy reading through a couple dozen poems, synopses, treatments and short stories that weren’t half-bad – and might even become half-good – if I actually worked on them. As in, if I actually finished them. What’s really pathetic, is that the majority of them I had completely forgotten even existed.
After going into Wren writing overload, I realized that I’m an idiot. Well, I’ve had that realization before, but this time I was truly pissed at myself. Obviously, I had spent a lot of time musing, agonizing, writing, re-writing, and in some cases even formatting properly for submission, many hours of words. What good was any of it doing me on disc ( then flash drive as I moved it over to my netbook) was beyond me. The fact that I had two new book ideas with a synopsis – one with a completed chapter – and three new short stories since my move, said something very important about me.
I am one of “Those”. I start stuff, am incredibly inspired, and then I just drift off without ever finishing. I procrastinate. I don’t stay on topic. I drag my heels. I’m not getting to where I want to be as a writer, which is ultimately what really matters. If I had taken all of the words I had written in the last 8 years – and I am not even including any articles or stories I submitted or was contracted to do – I could have had the great American novel done by now. Or at least my version of some kind of novel. I probably would have even been through a few re-writes by now, and possibly even have something decent to submit.
So now what? This could be one of those moments where I go “whatever” and keep on slogging away, or I could make a decision. The same way I decided I needed to do something about my health and changed my diet around, with actual new habits formed; (this was easier as it involved the threat of possible death), I need to apply that to my writing. Hey, what works for me may not work for anyone else, but at some point, if you want to accomplish something – anything – you can’t just say “I resolve to do this”. Who are you kidding? Probably just yourself, because if you’re being honest, you know if you don’t have a specific plan to achieve a specific task – it ain’t happening. Such as improving one’s grammar.
The final point of all of this? Make a plan, find out what works for you. Do you need to take an hour in the morning and write before you go to work? Are you a night person who makes that part of their ritual before you go to bed? Is it 4 hours on the weekend? During your lunch break? Is it following one of the many writing programs or guides? Joining a critique group?
Whatever it is, decide on a plan and stick to it, the way you would a diet. If you fail at diets, then look for another analogy; but if you make a goal to finish at least one of the 87 brilliant ideas you’ve had, then you will have actually accomplished something. You will no longer be one of “those”.