Deadlines and challenge

One of the biggest thing you will hear from published authors is meeting deadlines. This is a common thing for all writers though most don’t realize it. If you write hit or miss for weeks, months, or even years, you will find the transition to becoming a full time writer a nightmare.

Setting deadlines and realistic goals for yourself is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself. Some writers can do this in the solitude of their word documents, writing a certain number of words per day, chapters per week, etc. others need a little more of a kick in the pants. I was a hit or miss writer for a long time, then I started with a goal. I wanted to improve my writing and the only way to improve is through practice and criticism. For myself, this meant writing five days per week, all original stories. Some were short stories, others were part of a series. The important part was that I wrote, I didn’t let anything stop me from meeting this goal unless it was physically binding. I wrote stuff I am not proud of to say the least, I wrote filler material, I also wrote with no direction at times and it showed. The feedback was amazing, because I put it out for everyone to see. I bared my soul to the entire planet to take in and dissect. It was scary. Some nights I wanted to just bang my head on the screen endlessly to see if that helped. In the end, I came up with pieces I was proud of, things I wanted to share. The hardest part is getting it done. I did all of this without editing because I am notorious for getting in the editing loop and never coming out. So I put my material out in all of its mis-typed, misspelled, and comma dropped glory.

In the end I have found improvements in my style, and in my substance.

Preachy much? Yeah probably, but that comes from passion not from knowing it all about writing. No one knows your style and needs better than you. In the end find the goal setting and challenges that make you excited to write. I am excited when Monday rolls around after the weekend. It is the day I get to create something new, something fun, and in the end, something I love.

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Finishing what you start

I set myself a challenge, I wanted to write a descriptive story from the POV of a blind main character. I knew it would be really tough. I knew it would probably go badly. I was right.

I did all of this writing even when I saw it going wrong, I had the main character referring to his visual impediment way too often, I had many forced conversations that came across stilted to say the least. I tried every trick to force a visual idea of what was happening. I made this harder by making the key antagonist of the story something he couldn’t perceive, a supernova from another nearby star.  I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up.

I finished it today and can say it is among my weakest writing to date. I did however reach my goal. Even in failure, I learned, I felt ready to celebrate, I felt relieved.

By completing such a difficult task for myself, I exposed many weaknesses in my own style and abilities, and I am better able to identify them and fix them now. I now feel, as I return to my chosen genre and character style, better able to describe the world around them with the other senses.

If I had not finished this story I would have felt defeated, my readers would have felt cheated, and my wife would have flogged me. I am not just a writer but the proud father of a writer. He learns from my example. He challenges himself regularly now, because he sees me doing the same.

For all the reasons above, and whatever reason you have to continue writing. Failure is an option and is a great teacher. I am not depressed by my shortcomings, but try to learn from them. I hope this all helps someone out there struggling with vague writing problems they can’t identify. I hope this helps my oldest son in his own writing pursuits. Most of all, I hope it helps me grow as a writer. Nothing makes me as happy as creating a world of depth, characters of intrigue, and plots of substance.

Happy writing,

Charles R. Colp