Welcome to my blog

Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Stepping it up

2017 was a year of successes for my writing (read more here) and with 2018 underway I'm asking: how can I do better? Writing is now what I do, no matter how tough it gets (and sometimes it feels really tough), for better or worse this is me .. I am a writer. Feels good to say it out loud! I have over 80 publication credits for short stories, flash fiction and articles. My short story collection is ready and out on submission. I have several completed novels to work on and another in progress. All good. So I could just keep doing the same, sticking with my process to produce new work and my publication rate will probably mimic what's gone before.

But I want more ... and what I really want to do is step it up.

I talked about this with my husband over Christmas and he shared something he'd read about snooker (yes, snooker). Snooker players train/practise endlessly to improve their game. Many do well, gain successes but then hit a plateau where despite the process their success stalls. The World Champions get to the podium by reassessing and changing their process. Maybe not all at once, perhaps introducing small changes at first or continually trying new things. That is the push they need to get off the plateau and start winning bigger.

I think I'm stuck on my own writing plateau and I need to get off ...
[Naff homemade graph warning]
My writing process has proved successful to date. I don't start writing a new story until the entire arc is in my head. Then when I do begin the story easily comes out over a couple of days. I still have work to do re editing, sharing with readers etc but basically that has been my modus operandi for the last few years. Unfortunately, the stories have slowed down in their arrival in my head or sometimes fail to turn up at all.

I want to get off the plateau ... so I've been tweaking the process. In January I had only the sketch of a story in my head, not the usual oil painting, but I made myself sit down and start writing. The story started somewhere I didn't expect, which led to its ending - I wrote both back to back and then over a week I filled in the middle of the story. At almost 7,000 words it became one of the longest short stories I've written. It has been entered into a competition and only time will tell if this new approach is successful. What it did show me was that my process doesn't have to be fixed. I tried something new and I still wrote and finished the piece. I can change! Importantly, I actually enjoyed the experience.

I needed a kick to try something new and reading Chuck Wendig's 'The Kick-Ass Writer' has helped. This has "1001 ways to write great fiction. Get published, & earn your audience." Each section has 25
bite-sized pieces of writing advice - so a great book to dip into once a day - and often it feels as if Chuck is shouting in your ear. Each page has at least one memorable quote. It's funny, rude and all TRUE.
This is something from the book I am taking to heart: "It's time to start taking some risks ... Throw open the doors. Kick down the walls of your uncomfortable box. Carpet bomb the Comfort Zone so that none other may dwell there."

P.S. After writing this post I came across an article by Alison Moore in Mslexia (Sep 2017) 'I get knocked down (but I get up again' which sort of echoes some of how I've been feeling lately. One quote that gives me hope is: "A few times ... I noticed in retrospect that just when I had the gravest doubts about my work, and considered stepping out of the ring for a while - and maybe even did so - I was in fact in the process of making a leap forward."

Have you tried changing your writing process? Has it worked for you? Please share.