Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seeking suggestions

It's nearing the end of the year, a time when my thoughts turn to goals. I will be discussing my work-related goals with my boss soon, so those are beginning to take shape. I have some professional goals that are fairly well defined as well, though they could use a little more work to make them more specific and measurable. I am developing a goal for personal growth in the area of relationships that I will ask some people for help shaping and actually working on it. A few weeks ago, I got serious about setting some financial goals, and while those still need some more concrete definition, I'm good to go in that area as well.

There is another area where I'm planning to set some goals, but beyond a couple of things that I've already been doing to some extent, I'm not really at all sure how to proceed with it. I want to set some goals for writing. I'm not talking about dissertation writing, though that is a part of my professional goals and will have an effect on any additional writing goals I set. I am currently striving to write at least 30 minutes per day on the dissertation. Like it is any time I develop a new habit, it's hit or miss with that, but I know what to do and just need to do it. After the first of the year, I will need to start setting aside larger blocks of time to write on it so that I can make some serious progress. That will limit my available time for other writing, but I need to focus some on other writing to keep my soul alive. Getting the dissertation done is, in part at least, something I feel I have to do in order to get to some of the other things I want to do.

But, the truth is, I'm a novice when it comes to the whole writing thing. I want to believe that there is more for me than writing the occasional moving blog post. I want to step out a bit and develop more as a writer, but I have no idea what to do. I was a chemistry major in college. I had a composition class that was very good, but it focused on the mechanics of writing, and didn't cover anything in the way of how to develop as a writer. So, I feel a little lost. Here's what I plan to do: go back to the project I started last year and later abandoned--writing for 15 minutes a day about something I observe during the day; journal every day.

What suggestions do you all have of things I can add to this plan?


Preacher Mom said...

I share similar desires/goals in writing and also have many of the same questions. One thing I am trying to do is to take advantage of opportunities for exposure to authors. I've had the chance to hear three authors speak this fall. I tried to soak in everything I could from them. There is a writer's conference in my state every fall. I would like to accumulate enough pieces of polished writing to feel like I "qualify" to attend. We'll see how that goes.

I'll look forward to reading what others suggest.

J said...

My favorite writing book is _Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within_ by Natalie Goldberg.

And, IMHO, I think you just need to give yourself permission to shine in this way. You already have everything else you need.

Marie said...

I'm not much of a writer, so I don't have any suggestions. But I can't wait to read more of what you write.

Jan said...

I am very interested in your writing plans. I keep putting off writing on my scholarly papers to finish my degree. I cannot believe I've done this for almost two years. I want to get them done so I can finish up this coming year, so I need to put aside hours a day. I hope you'll keep us posted on your plans, so maybe I can follow in your example.

I'll have to do much less blogging.

concretegodmother said...

I learn best through story, so I like to read books by writers who include stories of their own personal writing journeys.

I *totally* second j's recommendation. Natalie Goldberg preaches the gospel of writing practice, and the way she presents it makes it do-able. She includes useful prompts and suggestions for getting your hand moving. Once you read _Writing Down the Bones_, you can try her second book, _Wild Mind_. She approaches life and writing from a Zen perspective, which I find quite enlightening and, at times, challenging. She is SO worth the time.

If you enjoy laughing while considering the writing field, Annie Lamott's _Bird by Bird_ is a must. She addresses the personal demons of writing as well as the public process.

I also love Madeleine L'Engle's book, _Walking on Water_, which is a meditation on faith and art. (Betcha couldn't guess I'd bring Madeleine into it, huh?) Her philosophical and religious musings are inspiring and thought-provoking. And she shares her own personal sure-fire approach to writing: set a time to write every day, and show up. Even if you write the worst crap in the world, at least you wrote today.

Other titles, for later: Carolyn See's _Making a Literary Life_; Betsy Lerner's _Forest for the Trees_; Annie Dillard's _The Writing Life_; and even Stephen King's _On Writing_.

I know it seems like a litany of titles, but as I said at the top, I learn best through story, and these ladies (and man) tell them best. Then you just have to show up at the desk on a regular basis. [prods self with stick]

Yankee T said...

I found a course at an adult ed place when I lived in Boston called, "Journal Writing as A Means to Writing Fiction." Which for me was perfect, because at that point in my life my journal read like a freakin' cheap novel! But that aside, I'd look at adult ed places for writing courses. That course changed my writing life.

Katherine E. said...

Hey, Linda. Just wanted to say hi and to wish you well!