One of the things I could not bring myself to do is submit work for publication this past year. There are a couple of reasons why. The biggest one is that I don't feel like I'm ready. I have a lot to learn - an incredible amount to learn. I churn out a bunch of words, and then I edit and edit and edit until it sounds ok, but not right. But, here's the secret.
I don't really know what I'm doing.
I'm starting to realize this is part of the process. At least, it seems to be, if people like Ray Bradbury know anything. And he's written a few things over the years...
Ray Bradbury on Writing...
A few days ago I read an interesting post on the KidLit blog about dealing with rejection. In that post, she talks about how writers pass through four stages. Briefly, they are...
- Unconscious incompetence
- Conscious incompetence
- Unconscious competence
- Conscious competence
I try to keep myself balanced with realism when it comes to writing, but I would have placed myself in "Unconscious competence." At least, I did until I spent some time really looking at my writing.
Also, I read a few books that made me aware of how little I actually know. So I decided I'm back up to at least #2. I'm aware that my writing needs a lot of improvement, but I'm still working out how to fix it.
How do I plan to change that? Well, it's not going to happen in a year, but for the immediate future (order does not reflect priority)...
I. Launch the 12 in 12 challenge.
- What: I've challenged myself (and anyone who wants to join me) to write 12 short stories in 12 months - hopefully complete, mostly edited works. It can be an early draft I have sitting around, something inspired by a style or work I admire, or an entirely new thing.
- Why: This will give me a clear goal of something to accomplish each month, it will help me flesh out some of the ideas in my head, and it might even produce a good work.
- When: The story is 'finished' (AKA, I walk away from it for a while) on the last day of the month.
II. Write Every Day.
- What: Write at a minimum twenty minutes per day, every day. Ideally more.
- Why: 12 in 12 will be in addition to my other work... namely, drafting a fantasy novel and editing my other manuscript. And maybe researching the historical fiction story I outlined in November. So between these things, science, my column, and this blog, I should get plenty of writing in each day.
III. Revise NaNoWriMo manuscript at least once.
- What: National Novel Editing Month is fast approaching and I will spend 50 hours editing a manuscript.
- Why: I'm really interested in rewriting my story from NaNoWriMo, and NaNoEdMo will give me at least one clean pass at that.
- When: NaNoEdMo is in March.
IV. Read. And then read more. Suggestions welcome! (and encouraged, by email or in the comments below!)
Stephen King's advice for young writers. 'Nuff said.