It’s January 2008. How much of your life story or family history do you plan to complete this year? Will this year be more fruitful than last year? What do you need to change to make it so? If you didn’t write as much as you intended in 2007, what got in the way? Did you dedicate specific time each week to write? Did you spend more time researching than writing? Did you spend too much time reading about how to write your story? Did you have trouble feeling inspired to write?
How will you make this year a more productive writing year? Consider setting some achievable goals for yourself. For example, pick a few stories or topics to complete by a certain date. Plan a specific project, say, a collection of stories for a family Christmas present in 2009. Or, how about writing down special memories of your parents, then bind them together in an inexpensive booklet and present them to your children on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? Or, write about your courtship and early marriage and set a goal to have it completed by your anniversary date? I’m sure you can come up with other ideas. Projects and goals like these will generate a sense of urgency that propels you forward. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to write and then calendar it like a doctor’s appointment.
Sometimes we let other interests or obligations take precedence over our writing because we expect too much of ourselves at each writing session. Writing becomes a burden rather than the creative outlet it ought to be. We put pressure on ourselves to write something amazing at each sitting and it becomes an ambition we can’t possibly live up to. Just start putting words on paper. That very act will awaken your creative juices and cause you to think about your writing when you’re doing other things. Your next writing experience will go easier for you if you don’t let too much time elapse between sessions.
Here’s another tip: Consider signing up for a writing class this year. The weekly routine of taking a class and completing assignments will keep you focused on your project. Colleges and adult education centers will begin their spring terms within a week or two. Check out their catalogs and find a class that suits your needs. You’ll soon find yourself in company with other students who share your interests and will motivate you to persevere with your good intentions. Follow the injunction of those Nike ads: Just do it!
Finally, a reminder to my students who are returning for the spring term: Classes begin the first week in February, same time, same place. Don’t forget your submissions are due the first week for our class anthology, A Place Called Home. I’m sure you’ll all want to have a story included, so don’t wait until the last minute. Re-read this blog entry if you need a kick in the pants!