Saturday, 1 April 2017

New Month, New Challenges

Over the years I have signed up for a few writing challenges, and usually my track record has honestly sucked. It didn't matter what my goals were, how realistic or hopeful that I was; there were always interruptions in the form of illness, family emergencies, lack of support on the home base, technical failure and so on.
Most of the time, I was trying to write in an environment that was incredibly toxic and not favourable to writing; a troubled family can provide great material for writing but it is almost impossible to write under those 
conditions, and if you have any illness e.g. depression, that atmosphere makes it even more difficult to write well, let alone consistently. This is a topic that I will be returning to in future posts.

However, over time our family circumstances have changed, and then changed again, and I found that while I still sucked at completing challenges I did write a little more each time. I began to approach these challenges in a whole new way. If the goal was to complete a draft manuscript, or reach a word count, I gave myself permission to aim to write every day, or to write as much as I could in the time, or to use the time to brainstorm.  This method can be difficult to stick to when other writers are aiming far higher, and my competitive streak can begin to show through, so I have to remind myself that I have set a workable personal goal.
I take part in the challenges with others for company, for inspiration and advice, not to compete. Not at this stage, and not any time soon. My aims are to write more often, to challenge myself, to slowly chip away at that looong writing to-do list; and more importantly, to regain my confidence in myself as a writer. Sure a trophy, a prize, a badge would be great, but at the end of the day I prefer knowing that I had met the goal that I had set for myself.

Last month I took part in #chaboocha (The Chapter Book Challenge). The goal is to write a draft YA manuscript in the month of March. I'm fond of #chaboocha as it is well run, the other members are usually very encouraging and through #chaboocha, I gained my confidence to take part in smaller challenges. This year my aim was to spend time working on my anime-styled fantasy graphic novel, "Torn". If I finished it, that would be a wonderful achievement, but as long as I worked on it as much as possible for most of the month I would be satisfied. As has happened before a family emergency occurred but I was still able to keep writing; and I ended up working on 2 projects. That wasn't intentional, but while I was waiting to board our coach, when my daughter and I headed interstate to take care of urgent family matters, I was struck with inspiration for a book that I had started work on for #chaboocha a couple of years ago.

What I take away from the monthly challenges is more of an understanding of my writer's process, and the weaknesses in character development, plot and so forth. So I take something away from the challenges that is far more useful at this stage to me, than actually finishing the challenge to the letter of the rules & regs.

I had no plans to sign up for any challenges this month, beyond #anideaperday2017; I have clear writing goals that I am working on, but last night two of my fellow writers mentioned challenges that they had signed up for this month, and on checking them out, I realised that they would work well with what I had already planned, and so I signed up for #campnano and #blogyourbookin30days. With both challenges I have set my own more achievable goals, but I'll be doing it (virtually) alongside other writers, and I'll be more accountable as my efforts will be recordedalong the way. It never hurts to have a record of your progress right in front of you.
For #campnano I'll be resuming work on "This is Not a Fairy Tale!" I started work on this for #NaNoWriMo2015 and I completed 18,346 words, which is the most that I have written for any of the writing challenges. My goal that year was to write every day, and that was what I did. For #campnano, my goal is to polish what I have written already, edit my chapter breakdowns, work on my character outlines (they are rather weak at the moment) and write an additional 10,000 words. Of course if I do not make the 10,000 words but still build on what I have, I will be happy. It would be a feather in my cap if I could finish the manuscript this time around, but progress is progress at this stage.
For #blogyourbookin30days I will follow the abridged version, because that works best for me at this stage. I'll be blogging my progress over the next 30 days; plans, research, word counts, issues that arise. I have picked a project from my files, with the working title of "Pussy Cat through the Ages". I will be ditching the title as soon as I can, but it works for now :) This will be a Y.A book, set against the back drop of several historical events from the eyes of a pet cat, all with a touch of mystery and magick. The idea has been sitting basically untouched in the files for a few years, and it's something that I am eager to see completed. Blogging as I work on the book will hopefully assist me with getting into the habit of blogging regularly. At this stage I am aiming for 12 chapters, with at least 10 of those chapters requiring some detailed research.

Of course I will also be continuing to write more poetry, as this is helping me on a personal level, and I have an outline for another project to work on, but there is no rush to finish that project either. It's not unusual for me to have plans to write, but this is the first year that I have finally emersed myself in writing, and I'm enjoying the feeling. If the bottom of my world did have to drop out, I'm glad that I was able to gain one thing from that; the time to work on my writing while I gather up the pieces. 


Becky Fyfe said...

I'm so glad to see that the challenges have helped and that you keep progressing with your writing. Your poetry is beautiful, and I know from the anthologies that your story-writing is excellent too, so I'm thrilled to see you putting in whatever effort you are able to put in when it comes to your writing.

And I do know about life getting in the way of being able to write. With a non-charging laptop (so completely useless at the moment), sick kids, sick me, anxiety and a form of depression, it's been a tough year already for writing.

But you and I manage anyway. We make writing a priority, even if we have to squeeze it in-between other priorities, and that's what matters.

Melissa Gijsbers said...

I love how you are approaching the challenges, and I'm glad to be a "bad" influence ;)

Bron said...

Becky - thank you for those kind words and for your encouragement. I often haven't always found the time for writing in a traditional sense, when things have been absolute hell, but if you look outside of traditional I was always writing in my head as an escape and that does count for something. <3

Bron said...

Melissa - Once I realised that an adapted version of the challenge was better for my mental health I found that was something more important than prizes. <3 Well if you and Becky continue to be such bad influences who knows how far I will grow as a writer :P

Bron said...

And Becky, I'm sorry for the chellenges that you are experiencing <3

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