My 2017 Project: Become a Writer

In 2016, I earned my Ph.D., went vegan, and got my cholesterol under control. I was on a roll.

But I hadn’t successfully finished a piece of fiction (except one short story that I didn’t and still don’t like) since January 2014, when I finished the novel I’d begun the one time I legitimately won NaNoWriMo.

I realized I was never going to be a writer at this rate. So my 2017 project was learning how to write. Not how to get published or how to indie publish, but how to write fiction.

I wanted to break writing down into step by step aspects I could address directly. Writing is a HUGE “thing,” and I honestly didn’t know where to start. But I trusted that if I DID start, eventually I’d get traction.

For the first several months I studied Kishotenketsu, which was a fun warm-up to my serious studies.

Then Dannie, an awesome horror writer and long-time friend, told me about Holly Lisles’ online courses and Brandon Sanderson’s course lectures on YouTube.

The first thing I did was take Holly Lisles’ free flash fiction course. It honestly changed my life. I learned so much about structure and felt so much thrill of success planning and writing story after story.

I learned, proved to myself, that writing IS a repeatable phenomenon. It’s not magic we can’t explain, or lightning that doesn’t strike twice, or a wind that goes where it wants.

I started her novel writing and character courses, but she’s a serious outliner, and I’m much closerto a discovery writer, and that mismatch made them less useful to me. I still learn a lot by reading her blog. I’ll write a whole post about her later.

Then I started watching Brandon Sanderson’s lectures, and I learned so much about novels, including how to approach things from a discovery writer perspective. He’ll get his own post, too.

Brandon Sanderson recommended Dan Wells’s presentation on plotting, and I watched that. I also read Rachel Aaron’s article on planning a novel.

At that point, around July 1, I realized I was ready to start planning my own novel.

And so I did. But that’s going to get its own post, too.

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Rebuilding My Fiction Muscles by Starting Small

I often have trouble getting started on projects. I think it’s because I know just how long writing a novel takes,  just how much can go wrong in the process.

I know from experience just how easy it is to either not finish, or have to drag myself across the finish line by sheer force of will, spite-writing something I’ve grown to abhor. 

I’m not really art a place, personally our emotionally, where I can spend that kind off time writing something I don’t enjoy. 

And I can’t really face the thought of putting hours and hours into something without finishing it, ending up with nothing to show for it. 

I remember feeling like this year’s ago, and I’m going to do what I did then: I’m going to write shorter things, things I can finish in a day or two, even at my current limited time and energy budget. 

These may be short stories, even flash fiction. They may just be scenes. They may never be a part of any larger work. 

But they will be short-term, achievable objectives, things I can pan ahead of time and then do. 

I know I said I was going to do something like that at the beginning of the summer,  but the difference was that those had to be complete sorry stories,  Asics I got jammed up trying to think of plots and premises for them all. 

Now, it just has to be short,  achievable. 

I hope to rebuild my fiction writing muscles to the point that I can duo NaNoWriMo in November,  and carve out enough time early in the morning that I won’t inconvenience my family while I’m doing so. 

Nothing helps you sided like confidence and practice.  Nothing builds you’re confidence and motivates you to practice like success. So let’s build some small successes.