May 6, 2010

Interests, Goals, and Stuff (Updated)

As a part of Merrilee's Creativity Workshop Introduction, I am writing about the goals and interests I have in writing that I hope to pursue or overcome during the course of this workshop. I'm so excited. I hope I can have a finished product and be able to do something with it when I'm finished. Anyway, on to the goals. 

  • Exciting Beginnings
  • Finding a focus
  • Completing projects
  • Fighting the urge to over edit
  • Turning off the inner editor
  • Strong and well rounded Female Protagonists
  • Writing outside my comfort zone.

    1) Exciting Beginnings(in general)- I always have trouble with beginnings, especially with It's All Relative. Fortunately, I won't be focusing on IAR for the Merrilee's creativity workshop, but I still have no idea where to start my stories and often times it's the beginning that I get frustrated with because it's not heading in the direction that I want it to go so that I can write the middle and ending.

    2) Finding a focus- many of my stories have too many things going on at once and it doesn't seem that there is a true theme of the story.

    3) Completing projects- I always have great ideas and I always start them, but then I give up for some reason and never revisit the story. I guess the big problem for me is knowing which story is fresh, new, and worth working on. I have a lot of stories in the pipeline and I just want to figure out which ones to work on and complete.

    4) Working with and meeting a self imposed deadline- It's one thing to have a paper due for class. I can dawdle all I want and at the last minute spit out the greatest piece of coherent B.S. in the world. However, when it's something I want to do, something that is important to me.... I just dawdle... and dawdle... and dawdle...and never get anything done.

    4) Turning off the inner editor- I am never satisfied with my writing most of the time or I don't like where the story is going. My teacher said that I need to lower my writing standards and I'm having a really hard time doing this. Write first, edit later...way later.

    5) Fighting the urge to over edit- this is a big deal because I have a tendency to edit so much that I squeeze the voice out of the piece. Many of my teachers and friends stated that they enjoyed my writing voice and I enjoy it as well. I have horrible command of English grammar. I also tend to skip words, spell things wrong, or get letters mixed up. Granted, I don't have dyslexia(at least not with words most of the time) or anything, but I generally type faster than my brain can process and I really have trouble seeing spots where I mess up. I tend to go back and edit the grammar and syntax, then edit out some other things, until there is nothing but the bare bones of words left and none of the voice. This always causes the writing to seem stale and dry to me.

    5) Strong and well rounded Female Protagonists- I found that after subjecting myself to dollar store romance novels and things like Twilight, it's hard to write a strong female character to me that doesn't come off as just arrogant, bitchy, or whiny. When I think of strong female lead, I think of someone who is not afraid to be herself and is non one dimensional. If she's a bitch, then she shouldn't have to apologize, but there has to be a reason behind it and she has to have a caring side and vice versa.

    6) Writing outside of my comfort zone- I think I have a fairly diverse writing style, but there are some things that I'm scared to touch.  I'm afraid that I'll get some things wrong or offend someone, but I'll never know how much I got right or wrong if I never actually write it. I went out on a limb for workshop and wrote about a kid that has high functioning autism and mild OCD. And you know what? Nobody chased me with a pitch fork when I didn't some things right and in fact, all they did was help me get some of the things right.
    • Write about someone with a "disability". 
    • Write a sex scene.
    • Write about a different culture that I'm not familiar with.
    • Write about my culture. 
    7) Writing outside my genre- my genre is usually mainstream YA adult with a crossover adult kind of feel. I only have one fantasy story and that is IAR. I want to write more diverse stories with different genres, even the genres that I dislike like romance. I added this one because my short stories tend to be more mainstream and that's my comfort zone. I need to break out of this little mainstream box and try something different.
    • Paranormal romance.
    • Urban Fantasy.
    • Fairy Tale retelling
    • Steampunk
    • Science Fiction (that's going to be hard)


      What things do you struggle with in writing? What kinds of things do you want to challenge yourself with? Leave your thoughts in the comments


      Merrilee said...

      Really excellent collection of things there, Najela. The only thing I would like to see are some more specific interests. You say that you would like to write outside your comfort zone, which is great! But if you could pick a few, specific examples, what would they be?

      Najela said...

      I think something like writing something about a person with "disabilities" or a specific culture I don't know anything about or writing an African American character where their race isn't the focus of the story. I don't know if that's specific enough, I might have to write the story and see where I hit the wall and try to push past it.

      Meredith said...

      Hi, Najela! I second (and third!) your writing teacher's advice about lowering your standards on a first draft. Have you ever read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones? In it, she says it's a good idea to "be willing to write the worst junk in the world," or the universe, or our continent (or whatever works for you).

      I have a little note posted to my desk that says, "I am willing to write the worst junk in North America." Over time and with practice, the quality will improve; but you cannot get better if you don't allow yourself to write. ;)

      Najela said...

      I haven't read that book, but it may have to go on my ever increasing book list. I always say I know my first draft is going to be bad, but I freak out and have to start over.

      I think I might have to post a note that says the same thing.

      Thanks for the advice and the comment. =)

      Anonymous said...

      These are great goals, Najela. I hope you reach them during the workshop. I too struggle with #3 and #4 (both of them :-))

      Rosalind Adam said...

      Completing projects is definitely one of my issues too and I agree that we should be taking the opportunity to write outside our comfort zones during these sessions.

      I notice that Meredith recommended Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. I too have a copy of that book. I often dip into it.

      Davina Pearson said...

      I really sympathise with you on 2, 4, and, um, 4 ;) I went to a workshop recently which was supposed to be about finding your themes, but it turned out that the person teaching the workshop didn't really have any answers! I think it's one of those things we all have to figure out for ourselves... hate those things. ;)

      I hate self imposed deadlines. I love the idea of them, I love setting them, and when I manage to meet them - wow! Such a great feeling! But then I set myself a new deadline or goal and of course I don't meet that one, and at that point I give up. *sigh*

      Turning off the inner editor is tough, but so worth it. It's one of the reasons I like to write first thing in the morning - I can just get into the story and let the words flow. Of course, when I'm revising I do that in the morning too, but somehow setting out to edit is quite different. I have to turn on the editing mode in the morning, whereas if I come to the page later in the day I tend to be a little more critical.

      Ash N. said...

      I hear you on the procrastinating with self-imposed deadlines. Somehow, it's easier to get something down when there's the threat of an "F" hanging over your head...

      AuroraLee said...

      Focus... that's definitely an issue with me! Darn ramblings! Great list!

      anna caro said...

      I'm very much with you on writing outside one's comfort zone - a greater diversity of characters is one of my goals as well.

      Anonymous said...

      Ack, sex scenes! I remember once, when I was about sixteen, I wrote a really explicit short story. Now, I can barely get my characters shirts off without blushing.

      Najela said...

      Thanks for your comments everyone.

      xen said...

      Oh wow we share a lot of the same issues! I hate my inner editior, it's out for blood I swear. I too struggle with completion. And I think it's so admirable of you to want to write outside your comfort zone because in doing so you learn, that's how we all learn, and that's great! Ah, I'm inspired :) lovely goals!


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