I’ve been reading a few philosophical texts recently that have talked of living in the now. I’ve always found the whole now/future thing to be a balance that I never knew if I was getting right. There is no doubt that I’m more of a living for the future kind of gal, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’ve got that wrong?
Living in the now isn’t just about cleaning your floors now because you can, it is about really embracing life and going for that long walk when it is a beautiful day instead of prepping for the team meeting you need to present at on Monday. It is about spending your savings on that computer that will help you get on (and off) line faster so you have more of your time back.
I always thought of living for the now as being a life where your mortgage doesn’t get paid, you retire with no savings and one day everything you didn’t plan for comes crashing down on you. Maybe that is not so.
I’m not an existentialist, nor do I think I ever can be, but I do think I need to take a leaf out of their book. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow (more likely now they have moved the bus stop next to the part of the road where everyone speeds) what would I regret leaving behind? Is that the ‘now’ I need to work on?
Perhaps the best way for me to work this out is to live a week of questioning what is the now thing to do? The past five years feel like one very long year, I’ve spent nearly all my time on work, I don’t want the next five years to feel the same. After all, who knows when that bus is going to lose control.
Four days off work is a gift for any writer. You get to spend one day fulfilling all your family requirements, one day tending to your home and two whole, splendid days dedicated to what it is you keep telling everyone you want to do; writing.
But even with these four days you need to set your priorities, do the high priority tasks first. I know this might sound crazy to some of you, but on the days that I’ve got ‘booked in’ for writing, I get up at 6:30am to start writing. Experience has taught me that the day rarely goes as planned, and invariably someone will drop by, or call from out of the blue for a chat. If you start at 6:30 there is a good chance you’ve been able to get in some solid hours of work before you get side-tracked.
I know many of you are thinking you just tell those people to go away, but I can’t and in all honesty, don’t want to do that. These people are my support network and support is a two-way street. I know it might slow me down in my quest to get some novels finished, but it also means that when the world comes crashing down I always have friends and family to turn to. That is also a priority.
So sacrificing a few hours of sleep-in to spend some one-on-one time with my characters is an easy choice to make for something that is a priority. When the sleep-in wins, then I know that there is something wrong.
The New Year is nearly upon us and so, yet again, it is time to make up the list of what is to be done, goals to achieve, habits to change etc. The temptation is there just to roll over the stuff from this year and add a few new things.
I’m going to resist that temptation.
I cannot help but feel that there must be a reason for me not hitting those goals, especially the complete lack of progress in the latter part of the year. There is no doubt that life (and by that I mean WORK) got in the way a bit, but I wonder if my process is perhaps getting a little stale.
A little wobble of security on the work front saw me take away my rewards for achieving a number of goals for the week. For a couple of months it was fine, just getting the high numbers was enough, but I wonder if the rewards were more incentive than I realised. They were things I wanted but didn’t need, and I think I need to bring them back. Even if I get a bit creative to save on costs, like giving myself a whole Sunday of just reading a book, now that would be incentive!
The other thing I need to look at is my projects. I think I have too many and I spread myself too thin. I’ll sometimes have goals for three different writing projects in a week. Now that’s just silly. And who knows, maybe the appeal of working on something different will be enough motivation to get me through what my current focus is. I may actually get some stuff finished.
So good luck with your goal setting and remember; these are not set in stone, you can always re-jig them at any time if they aren’t working. New Year is just a good time to refresh your vision for the future, it isn’t about locking one in.
I didn’t start out wanting to be a novelist. Originally I wanted to make movies. As a kid I loved films. I loved getting lost in them, it was a place where magic was real and dreams came true. It was only as I got older that I realised books did this as well (better even).
I worked out pretty quickly that I didn’t want to direct movies, act in them, or produce them; I just wanted to come up with the ideas. Movies back in the 80s and 90s were very limited by budgets, which is why I thought about writing books instead. There were no limitations on the special effects or cast size in books.
Leap forward twenty-plus years and I’m still writing these unlimited-budget-special-effects stories, but very few of them are getting out to the big wide world to be read. I am finally conceding that perhaps what I find interesting and funny does not appeal to the average person. Which begs the question; how much should this realisation shape my next steps?
It all comes down to why I write. The past five years have slowly killed my dreams of being published to the point where I can live off my writing. I’ve known too many people now who have been published by big publishing houses and they are still working in ‘temporary’ jobs to pay the bills. Mix with that the fact that I actually like my day job, and enjoy the people I work with and suddenly living off my writing becomes less of a goal.
When I think about why I sit down at this computer for so many hours, the same truth comes back to me; I like stories. I like to live in a world of my own making and explore all the what-if’s. I would love to have others read my work too, but that is just a bonus. I am my first audience, and I love to watch the stories unfold.
So I know I will continue to write, and I’m comfortable with the idea that I’ll write the stories I want to read. Who knows, maybe now that CGI is so cheap I could turn my hand to a special-effects script after all? It is all about getting the story out.
Well by now a lot of you are back at work and don’t feel like anything has really changed since 2014, and let’s face it, nothing has. I often look at our pets on NYE and think how odd they must think we are; a bunch of people all carrying-on and staying up late on this one (apparently) random night. Then again my cat seems surprised by, and then eats, her own fur off the floor, so maybe I’m being a bit generous attributing such thoughts to her.
But it is a good chance for making public declarations about what we are going to do more of, less of and goals we want to achieve. So here are my writing resolutions in no particular order:
- Submit at least one story every month
- Review feedback and edit my stories within a week of attending writers group
- Write at least 100 words a day (this is to form a habit, I don’t think 100 words a day will finish any of my novels)
- Upgrade my blog
- Out-loud edit every story before I send it anywhere.
I also have a list of stories that I want to finish or re-write, but the plan is that that list will grow as I cross off the completed tasks throughout the year. The story names will be meaningless to you (and are very subject to change) so I haven’t included that list here.
Feel free to give me your writing resolutions or make suggestions for some that I should add!
Happy New Year! I hope 2014 is a peaceful, prosperous and environmentally friendly year.
I’ve started thinking about my goals for 2014, what I want to do more of, less of, and what I want to achieve. This got me thinking about my 2013 goals and I thought that I should check-off which things I had completed. Only I couldn’t find where I had written them down.
I remember being very motivated when I wrote the list, and I remember being convinced I was going to follow everything through. I think I can even remember signing the goal list, like it was some kind of contract with myself. So I don’t know how I expected to achieve those goals if I didn’t have them up where I could see them.
There is now a space cleared on my wall where my 2014 goals can take pride of place. Better still, I’m taking down some of the noise that is currently up on the wall, if I have too many pieces of paper up there, it will just blur into the background and not be seen.
So I guess I’m already getting ready for goal number one; keep my goals front of mind. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, there is a pretty good chance that you won’t get there.