Happy New Year, Everyone!
There are always updates, aren’t there? Often around this time of year too, when people realise they’ve been slacking for the last twelve months, since their last post.
For consistency, I’m no different. But the aim here is to bring about change, knowing past updates led nowhere, or didn’t accomplish their purpose. I made promises, which fell short of my belief.
To aid my commitment to change, I’ve plumped for a new WordPress theme, which is simple (much like the user). Clarity for a muddled mind.
We all know, December over-excess leads to making January resolutions. We understand breaking them during the rest of the year is part of those obligations. It says so in my writer’s bible, the dictionary, specifically about writing:
The part of a literary work in which the complications of the plot are resolved or simplified.
The inevitable happens; we simplify our resolutions to a satisfactory conclusion:
- I want to eat more healthy food, becomes: eat more food!
- I want to learn a new language, becomes: I already know several foreign words, like: linguini, paella, sauerkraut, köttbullar, piri-piri, and the pièce de résistance (see what I did there), bon appétit!
This year I’m undertaking a redefined route. A blog promoting my chosen path of word scribbling goes pen-in-hand with my new drive. For the last few months I have written lots, not tomes I admit, and most is hogwash, but sometimes I write something interesting, so it’s not been a complete waste of my energy.
I mean, writing is important, right?
Which leads me to, what kind of writer am I? A writer of blogs, a writer of short stories, a writer of a longer novel-length story, or a writer of phooey that nobody enjoys reading?
Yes, I’m all those (the last one mostly). Though, it matters not. I’ve decided I’m a writer, so I need to follow my literary alleyway and blog my way into writing more.
Although, if I’m blogging, then surely I’m wasting time in not writing what I want to write: a novel.
No, I need to write, full stop!
To save time, I’m using technology. The cool, fast way to write in this modern age is to dictate. It was quite clever years ago, but meant dictating to someone, which is expensive and I don’t know anybody who could stand to listen to my gobbledegook except for my very smart phone.
The most productive route to utilise this technology is while taking a stroll, leading us back to resolutions, and undertaking more exercise. Fresh air and vitamin D sunlight, and muttering to myself whilst walking. Dictation is handy, but a tiny piece of the puzzle, because I will have to edit the arse off this snippet to make it blogable.
I’ve found cosy writing indoors on a computer can be calming, peaceful even (if you’re lucky). When composing on the fly (must have been something I trod in), you can dictate, albeit not privately, or loudly, and ears eavesdrop on your strange ramblings, but write I must, so dictate I must.
(Incidentally, the best part about modern speech-to-text dictating by phone is I don’t have to listen to how ridiculous my voice sounds!)
This new update states I’m undertaking a lot more writing, blogging, and dictating (which sounds funnier than it should).
Overt use of dictation has advantages; it gives one the appearance of being someone important, enabling one to spout drivel and nonsense, allowing one to get it all off one’s chest; blah blah blah, blah-di-blah blah, and one believes one’s recording stacks of funny anecdotes. At least until one returns home, ready to edit just minor tweaks, and one reads back one’s words and realises even rewriting this twaddle won’t produce a stimulating blog post for oneself.
The dictation/blog thing is part of an overall New Year overhaul thing, and follows quite a year, as years and things go. A year fraught with personal change, which demanded to be unravelled.
Now, enter a new year, and I’ve changed. I’m unplugged, a new man, so to speak; as Mr Smith once said. The primary aim is to look forward to four fresh seasons, and concentrate on using my right hand (oh please, holding my pen or pointing my cursor).
Last November I completed NaNoWriMo (for those uninitiated, this stands for National Novel Writing Month), which was brilliant and meant writing over 50,000 words in the thirty-one days of November. December, however, was a bit of a zeppelin moment and I struggled through unable to fully . . . concentrate . . . sorry, got distracted there, watching a lollygagging dog being dragged by a boy behind a reversing car, thought they might get squished, but they didn’t, thank goodness!
One of the best things gained from NaNoWriMo (or Nano Rhino, as the speech-to-text converts), was the dedicated London writing group I joined on the Discord platform, which introduced me to a whole new set of writer buddies, and in this New Year an introduction to sprinting; writing sprints (or colloquially known as spronts, not sure why, but I’ll find out).
Spronts Sprints are literally when you sprint for fifteen to twenty minutes (or more, if you have the energy), writing as fast as you can, no stopping, no formatting, no editing, just “words from the word god”. As many words as you can write.
Various sources within writing and publishing say a writer should write 1,000 words a day, which is hard sometimes (note: change to ALL the time); sometimes you just can’t do it. Sprints force you to focus, but in bite-size portions. NaNo pushes you to write 1,666 words a day. These sprints keep this going. Your mind is off the slower editing process and it’s all about words, words, words, and more words.
With you’ve finished sprinting, you may have twenty words written or two-hundred (five-hundred plus, if you’re an Olympic sprinter), which are more than you had before you started. Time to stop and celebrate, have a cup of tea, no editing, and repeat. It’s great to build on your word count. Added to my Nano Rhino amount, I will soon have a decent amount of words to edit and polish into a speculative novel; for the new year.
With life’s personal changes, comes necessary compromise and unexpected benefits. For me; I’ve spent a lot more time with my mother during a pandemic when she couldn’t spend time with anyone (although, I’m sure she thinks more means too much), however, now is time to start afresh (new year and all that) and I’m moving to a new flat (box room) in London somewhere soon, to concentrate on my writing (and annoy new virtual rhino friends).
Life appears to be coming together, now I’m doing the dictating.
The words I’ve been preaching to my hand-held blog writing device, whilst out walking, have taken me to the other side of the village where I live, which leads me to ponder several thoughts: I’m I being dictated to by my voice? Do I have a mountain of messed up jargon to decipher on my return to shape my diatribe into something coherent? Or, they have spotted me spewing random sentences at passers-by and are coming to get me?
Psychotic thoughts aside, if I can blog often, it means I’m writing regularly. Even though this sounds like a load of repetitive nonsense, it’s still written nonsense. There is a downside. I’m not exclusively writing the words I want to write, the story I want to finish and share with the world, but I’m convinced both will help the other; it’s all positive; it’s all writing.
I believe (or spend a lot of time persuading myself) I am an actual writer, albeit unpublished, which actually, strangely as it may seem, does not mean I write all day. Factually, I do very little writing. Instead, I partake in the pleasures associated with the job; researching, editing, and the wonderful past-time every writer endures called procrastination.
Procrastination means you have licence to do anything in the name of writing. Which writers call, amongst other things, research. This allows them to get firsthand knowledge of characters traits and flaws, particularly describing real-life experiences, how to: load a dishwasher correctly, or a washing machine with matching colours; leave a bed unmade, so it’s easier to jump back into; memorise what every button on the TV remote does; discover the best genres to watch on Netflix or read on Kindle; sort Spotify playlists; file items alphabetical, which need to be filed or not; watch YouTube videos and search Google endlessly (for reference).
To recap: New Year – New Writing
To negotiate my journey and knowing how life sometimes gets in the way, I’m circumventing the old me, starting with this blog piece, but will it work? Can I sustain and continue my revised balance of writing? Will penning a blog on writing impede my craft?
I’m also interested to hear how other writers have tackled a return to word production, leave a comment, you know it’s good for your writing skills.
Finally, note to self: leave enough time to edit this dictation into a pukka blog post before midnight, because dictating is the fun, simple part, which takes the least time. And is frankly just messing out.
Next blog post: Reading (as in: to read, not the town/wannabe city).