What are those steps again?

escada-em-espiral4I feel a little like I’m in a 12-step program today.  What’s that first step?  Oh, yeah, admitting you have a problem.  The second?  Accepting it?  Hmmm . . . I don’t know.  Maybe this is a lousy analogy.  I attribute it to that rust I mentioned in my last post (at least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it).  Anyway, I got thinking about 12-step programs because they are supposed to be about self-exploration as a way to get to the root of a problem.

So what’s the problem I want to explore here?  That’s an easy one.  I didn’t have a great writing year in 2015.  Not a single measure I track—words written, stories finished number of submissions, webpage posts, sales—shows I had a good year.  Even the writing successes I did have (some sales, some good reviews) were the products of earlier efforts.  I have to face it, 2015 was a dud of year in terms of my writing.

On the personal and professional front, a lot happened in 2015.  At the start of the year, I had a parent who was sick and needed a lot of tough love—it’s hard telling a parent they can no longer take care of themselves.  After that, I was essentially working two full-time jobs for while (especially during the middle of the year).  Add to that a busy travel schedule for my day job, various family responsibilities, etc., and I found myself mentally drained.

All this contributed to a distinct lack of story ideas, or rather, a lack of story endings.  I started a lot of stories, but they all seemed to stall.  I seemed to have no endings, or at least I developed an inability to write the endings I had.  After a while, it became easier to not try, then to do.

But you know what, writing fiction is hard; if it wasn’t, everyone would write a bestseller.

Yes, 2015 was a tough year, but in the end, I think I forgot my number one rule for writing: butt in chair and words on the screen.  Writing isn’t glamorous  and sometimes it isn’t fun, but if I want to reach my writing goal (writing and publishing), I need to put my butt in my chair and pound out stories—one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time.  I know it will be tough for a while, and I know I can’t always write my way out of a story tangle, but if past experience is any predictor, it will get easier with time because I’ve found that the more I write, the more ideas I get and the easier it is to find and craft those endings.

So here’s to a better 2016.  I’m already more confident that this year will be a better one for my writing.

About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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3 Responses to What are those steps again?

  1. mobewan says:

    I can certainly sympathise with a lot of your experiences. Been taking a long look at the way I write (and plan and procrastinate), and trying to make some changes in 2016 to get back on track. Trying to get back into the public accountability malarky. Was what helped me get my first book out, but for some reason – despite actually having a bigger online presence last year – I let a lot of it slide. I’ve made some small steps with some public declarations for January on some Facebook and Google+ groups I belong to. Hopefully their encouragement and possible (likely..? :-)) threat of public embarrassment will keep me on track. Made a couple of lifestyle tweaks as well. Completely agree with your ‘more you write, the easier it gets’ approach. I’m way off the experience you have, but it’s the one thing that’s stayed true – plus, the more I write, the more I enjoy it (overall.. :-)). Here’s to 2016. For both of us.

    • Great to see you’re still lurking around here, Colin. Would love to hear how your foray into self-publishing has gone to this point, but it looks like your blog has been as sporadic as mine this past year :-). If you ever get around to writing up a post on your experience, you’ll have at least one reader.

      I hear you on goals, and I’ll be putting mine out there in a day or two (I’m putting the finishing touches on them; need to make sure they are reasonable). I think one of the reasons I derailed a little last year was a lack of thoughtful, tangible goals. I need that, or when the going gets rough, I might find it easier to play video games or something equally mindless.

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