Monday, 29 March 2010

Does Doing Less Produce More?

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It is a proud moment when I can sit back on the 29th of the month and be proud of what I have achieved. By sit back I mean 'review', I still have a bit more to do over the next three days of course.

This weekend I have done little more than a short blog post on my For Better Mental Health blog and a bit of reading for personal enjoyment. I did have an excuse as it was my other half's 30th birthday which meant meals out and socialising, which obviously does not work with writing.

Despite this latest weekend of little fruition I can look back and see that I have produced five blog posts, completed AND submitted five poems, written a small 200 word piece for the Talkback One Word Challenge, and completed and submitted a short story to a local organisation. All that does not include the work I still have in progress.


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I do not think I have ever done so much in a month and yet I do not feel I have put pressure on myself or been overwhelmed. My aims have been small, in an early post I said I would be focusing on poetry and I overall I have done this. I have managed my time being doing a small amount nearly daily and as a result I have barely noticed the commitment of it.

This month has taught me a lot about how to be more productive in future. Set small realistic goals and do a little bit every day. This sounds so obvious, but as writers and being naturally self-critical as we are, I think we sometimes aim too high and get less done as a result.

One of the most important things I would recommend is keep a record of everything you have done over the month, even blogs. At the end of the month you can see how productive you have been, have you spent too much time blogging? have you been overwhelmed with one project?

What I cannot say enough is that you are a writer so you must write. Do not sit back and wait for the muse to make an appearance.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Bristol Short Story Prize 2010

For any budding short story writers there is still time to enter the Bristol Short Story Prize 2010.

The Bristol Short Story Prize is an annual international writing competition that publishes an anthology as well as presenting cash prizes. It is open to all (entrants must be over 16 however) and stories can be on any theme and are welcome in any style but must be unpublished or broadcast.

Maximum word count: 3,000 words (there is no minimum)

Closing Date: 31.03.2010

Entry Fee: £7 per story

Prizes: 1st- £500 plus £150 Waterstones' gift card. 2nd- £300 plus £100 Waterstones' gift card. 3rd- £200 plus £100 Waterstons' gift card. Runners-up (17)- £50.


For full competition details including how to enter and the competition rules click here.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Poetry Project

With my time still strained between work and the wedding I have decided to focus my writing upon one format and that is poetry. I feel almost strange having made this decision, which was probably inspired by attending Words by the Water, and at the same time it seems like such an obvious solution.

Until now I have always had several projects ongoing at once including novel research, short stories and poetry. This is all very good and productive but I have found myself recently overwhelmed with tasks and getting very little complete.

In order for me to try to get the most out of my writing for the past week I have focused on poetry. The advantage of this of course is that it is less time consuming which is my biggest problem right now. Also it allows me to focus on an idea in a small number of words which I may later decide to develop into a short story.

Over the past week I have been able to build up a small collection of poems and this in itself is a boost to the ego. I do always find poetry a bit like a slippery fish and I sometimes think I'm falling wide of the line but in the same manner I have had some positive feedback so reason tells me I can't be getting it that wrong.

I think if I am just be a bit less me and a bit less scattered trying to do so many things at once, what I produce at the end of the day will be of much better quality and I will actually have completed something instead of half completing several things. That's the theory anyway.



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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Writing vs. Wedding

When I came to write this post I noticed it was over a month since my last blog post. The good thing is I know exactly why.

Over the last month (probably a little longer) I have done very little writing and what I have done has been articles rather than creative writing. Instead I have been focusing on my life stress, mainly my upcoming wedding.

Of course this is all good news, what could be a better distraction from writing, if I am not going to do any writing let it at least be for a positive reason like my wedding! Focusing on the wedding rather than writing has meant I have been able to complete several overdue tasks that I had been ignoring, such as booking the make up, having the hair trial and finding some wedding shoes.

The unfortunate side of this is that I have spent much of the time feeling guilty and that I should be writing. Trust me to try and overdo things and have a 'guilt complex'. No matter how many times I have told myself, and my fiance has told me, that it is ok to have a break from writing and that I cannot do everything, I cannot help feeling bad.

What has been worse is that when I have had some spare time and could get some writing done I have felt uninspired and lacking motivation. Has not writing for a while had such a negative effect that I cannot rekindle it? Then because I worry about this so much and I think what I write will not be good enough I avoid it.

More than anything else these thoughts probably show me as someone with some deep emotional problems including avoidance, anxiety and dependence and this is probably not far from the truth. I know that what I have been getting worked up about is purely based on my own flawed reasoning but it does not make it any less real.

It has recently came to the point where the wedding is nearly organised and I want to get some writing done and it just is not happening. I know most writers have a break in creativity but I am still trying to get published, I cannot waste time leisurely taking time off! I needed something to ignite a spark in me and I think I have now found it.

This weekend I attended Words by the Water at Keswick and loved it. I left feeling inspired and ready to get back into some serious writing. I now have to be productive and use that feeling. As shown in this post and previous blog posts I do spend too much of my time feeling guilty that I am not writing enough and it is counter-productive.

My writing will be less over the coming couple of months, I don't intend on spending my honeymoon with a pen glued to my hand, but hopefully some writing will dispel some of the stress. And, with two months now passed, I am still hoping that 2010 will be my year.

Happy Writing

xx