I came to an interesting realization today. I have been writing a journal entry of at least seven hundred and fifty words every day for over ten years. It has helped me to become a better writer. It has helped me develop confidence in myself as a writer. In that time, I have also completed the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge of writing fifty thousand words in twenty eight days five times. I have also written a short story for the three annual anthologies published by the Downtown Writers Group of the Huntsville Madison County Library.
With all of that writing, the bulk of it has been the journaling. Writing a journal is not writing fiction. There comes a time when one needs to shift one’s focus to practicing the activity that one aspires to, in my case, writing fiction. That is not to say that I intend to quit journaling. It helps clear my mind and gives me a place to think about important things such as how I’m going to become the fiction writer that I aspire to become. What it does mean is that I need to make time daily to write fiction.
If you want to learn to do something well, you’ve got to practice. Furthermore, you’ve got to be careful that what you practice is what you want to do well. I don’t know why I came to this realization so abruptly. It was accompanied by a couple of well thought out journal entries where I wrote about what my goals were and how I intended to achieve them.
I’m sure that this burst of clarity will be followed by intermittent periods of struggle. The difference will be that I now have an inkling of where I am going and what it will take to get there. My practice will count for more because it will be deliberately tuned to achieving my ultimate goals.
I have to give a tip of the hat to my writing colleague, Laura Winter. She has recently taken the plunge, quit her day job, and embarked on a career as a full time author. She also has a side gig as a life coach. Her writing on her blog and the conversations that we have at our weekly “Write In” meeting have helped me come to terms with my path toward becoming a publishing author.
In as much as honing my authorial skills are a prime focus for me, I have another project that I’m working on. It involves some programming, some community development, and a lot of research. I will be writing about it here as it becomes more clearly defined. I don’t intend to let it obstruct my fiction writing though. In fact, it is a tool to help me keep track of the myriad details involved in writing a novel length piece of fiction.
Many people are saying we should be opening up the economy again. I understand that many people who don’t have jobs where they can work from home are struggling to make ends meet. It is clear to me though, that in spite of pronouncements by politicians, the pandemic is far from over.
Be safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home unless you absolutely have to go out. Maintain social distance when you do go out. Keep your bubble of frequent contacts small. Take care of your self and your loved ones.