The new year arrived without much of a big deal for me. I worked steadily all the way up until Christmas and have really only gotten back to my paid work this week. I am not usually one for new year’s resolutions however I do like to refocus from time to time to set myself some goals, and I took the chance to reset my compass over the brief holiday period.
Not only was I able to set myself some goals heading into the year, but also some to tick off the list that sits in my head titled Things I Keep Meaning to Do.
I have had a short story kicking around for about two years now. I had written one draft, not really been satisfied with the story and had attempted a second draft – but left it unfinished for nearly a year. After Christmas I printed it off, got out my highlighter and notebook and did an edit and re-write in one. Not only did I complete it but I submitted it to a US literary magazine for their Science Fiction special in Spring. Right on its 31 December deadline.
Finish that story: tick.
Submit a story to a lit mag: tick.
I’ve had another idea floating around in my head for a few months, one of those musings on everyday life that would translate well into a fictional story. And then I saw the invitation for submissions from a local digital literary magazine for a mid-January deadline. The topic was perfect for my idea. Why not?
One afternoon I noticed my son and husband were playing happily together so I hid in my study and scribbled the whole lot down in one go. Yesterday I typed it up and submitted.
My first creative submission for 2015. Nice work.
After months of solid journalism work I was a bit worried about switching styles. I wasn’t sure if the words or ideas would come easily. But they did! Creative writing definitely is a different style of writing compared to journalism but the skills are still the same, particularly in Science Fiction (it helps that I write technology and science articles): is that a logical progression? Would that technology work that way? What would influence a person to act like that? And how would they react from there?
Something I found that really helped was to write and edit by hand. I have always liked writing and planning longhand and often jot down my article ideas and structure in my notebooks but when it comes to writing I usually end up doing most of it on the computer, due to the need for access to quotes and data.
So it was nice to step away from the computer and do all of my thinking with a clear head (not being distracted by social media was a bit one!). Also, doing the first draft on paper and then editing as I typed it up was a great trick I had learned of through others.
Also, interspacing my writing time with lots of reading fuel. And reading the kind of stuff I was writing. For example, I usually read novels or articles. I rarely read short stories. But of course short stories are very different to novels in structure and pacing. So being surrounded by Philip K. Dick’s stories around the time that my Sci-Fi short was brewing just made the whole process so much easier.
I also went to my first Writers Group of the year, as part of my goal to build a network of creative friends. I only went once last year, despite enjoying it quite a lot. I intended to return but I always had an excuse for why not to go. I was too busy with work. Or not feeling well. Or the weather was bad. I know it was just social anxiety, and maybe a little bit of guilt over socialising rather than doing paid article work. But honestly – that support is just as valuable as a bit of research or admin.
I have some more plans for my creative work this year. Most of all, I want to maintain this momentum I have going.