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Starting the New Year Off On the Write Foot

What can I say? The end of 2012 was not good for my novel writing. It was good for all sorts of other things, including a short story submitted to a big competition and good non-fiction writing, but not for my novel.

I spent December making all these things for my nieces, which cut into my writing time substantially.

I spent December making all these things for my nieces, which cut into my writing time substantially.

I want to finish The Red Oak (there, I said it – it has a working title) in time to start something new for NaNoWriMo 2013. Given that I need a couple of months of planning and pre-writing to go into NaNoWriMo ready to generate a complete first draft of an MG  or YA book, that means wrapping up the next draft of The Red Oak by the end of February. I have a lot of things I want to add to the next draft, complete sections, scenes, characters, etc. Things I need to write from scratch. Big changes, not small changes.

I want to get back to writing 1,000-1,500 words a day of completely new material.

It would be easy to give myself today, the New Year’s Day holiday, off. My husband has the day off work. My kids are home. I am sick. But, I need to reestablish habits that I let go of during the fall. And that means no excuses.

And so, to prove to myself that I am serious about this goal, I wrote. 1,000 words.

I believe that the choice of the New Year as a starting point is arbitrary. Different cultures have marked time in different cycles and counted the beginning of each year around the sun from different points. January 1 is only meaningful because we made it so. But, given that we live in a world that turns the year on this day, I see no reason not piggyback personal rituals on it. I don’t believe in traditional New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe that a culturally signified date can be a marker to pin a personal shift to, as long as you hold it lightly and hold yourself with compassion if you should falter – because we all falter.

Have you done something today because it is a practice you want to develop in 2013?

On Writing Every Day

After writing about habit formation yesterday, and at the beginning of a month of blogging every day, I got a relevant blog link in my email yesterday. (I have a huge number of blogs in my RSS Feed reader, if I subscribe via email, I am less likely to miss a post.)

According to Joe Bunting over at The Write Practice, the secret to writing on your blog every day is…

Writing.

Every.

Day.

And, when I think about it, there’s more truth in that apparent tautology than first appears. When you write something for your blog every day, you are building the mental habits of collecting ideas for your blog and shaping them into appropriate form every day.

I notice that happening with me already, after only a few days. Yesterday, after reading The Write Practice, my mind started assembling this post, connecting what I had read to what I had written yesterday, and making further connections that over-complicated this post and have been deleted. This morning, after my soul writing, I turned on my computer and was highly tempted to fall into my “waste time on the Internet” habits, but my mind rebelled. “Write your blog post now!” my internal voices said to me, and my body responded and I wrote this.

I have contemplated writing some posts in advance this month, something I don’t usually do. But, I am not sure I want to. Because of that habit thing.

Having had a not-writing habit for so many years has made it hard for me to build a writing habit. To build that habit, I need to maintain the discipline of writing every day more strenuously than if I had never had a not-writing habit. Writing every day without exception is the speediest way to build the writing habit. In addition, writing for an audience every day, as opposed to journaling, hones the skills related to considering audience.

I may not continue blogging every day after this exercise, but I have good reason to continue writing something intended for an audience daily. I need a strong writing habit so I can slide off it once in a while without stopping writing completely. But, before I can reach that point, I must be diligent in establishing the right habits, the right subconscious brain activity.

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