From news articles and press releases to blog posts and research papers, non-fiction writing of all forms has been a continuous part of my life throughout the past 10 years. But what many people don’t know, especially those who have only met me during this specific timeframe, is that fiction was my first and foremost passion long before I ever took my first undergraduate journalism course or accepted my first position as an editor.
From as early as I could put pencil to paper during my elementary years, I’d love to let my imagination run wild, constantly concocting new tales based upon characters and settings from my favorite books or TV shows, or rooted in my own original daydreams. Throughout middle school and high school, I avidly wrote poetry and short stories for publication in the school’s literary journal, and even began work on my first novel. While this was a project that took off with a great deal of energy and passion, it somehow fell by the wayside once I started college and found myself overwhelmed in a world bursting with new insights, relationships and directives.
Here within this dramatically altered reality, my childhood musings suddenly seemed immaturely silly, and rather than simply allowing my story concepts to grow and mature as I did, I found myself casting them aside for the more practical and reliable stability found in factual writing. Safe within this realm, I could pursue my passion without pouring my own heart and soul onto the page for all to critique and judge as they wished.
|Image Source: comerecommended.com|
That’s why last November, with renewed ambition, I once again started writing my historical novel, beginning back at square one with a concept loosely based upon the initial idea I had so long ago, but one that is now much better-developed and more thoroughly takes into account the life experiences I’ve had throughout the past decade. Though the fears of failure and criticism still at times terrify and threaten to paralyze me, I ultimately realize that it’s far better to try and fail than to avoid trying at all.
|Image Source: A Round of Words in 80 Days|
So, what’s the point of all this? To stay on track and make sure I take reasonable steps toward pursuing my goal, I’m linking up with A Round of Words in 80 Days, an online community of writers who set measurable goals for themselves throughout a series of 80-day sessions each year. While things may get frantic given the three graduate classes I’m currently enrolled in, it’s my hope that by joining this group and setting these goals, I’ll be better compelled to give my personal writing the same attention I would a work or class assignment.
Are you still reading? If so, here’s a quick glimpse at my goals for the first round of ROW80.
1) Consistently write at least 2-3 High Heels & Flip-Flops blog posts each week. Though it may be hard to justify this priority when the going gets tough, the simple fact that blogging helps me relax, offers a creative release and allows me to connect with a like-minded, supportive community makes it well worth the effort. And while every post might not represent the height of great writing, it is writing nonetheless, and a chance to continue pressing onward in whatever small way that might be.
2) Finish reading at least 1-2 novelist advice books to help refine my technique and focus. Considering that I've got two of these already in progress, this goal should be very achievable.
3) Complete the remaining historical research necessary to flesh out my plotlines and ensure their accuracy. I’ve made good progress with this goal throughout the past couple months, while I’ve simultaneously devoted a great deal of time to outlining my various story structures and sections. I know without a doubt that the stronger my historical knowledge base is going in, the faster I’ll be able to complete my first draft with confidence.
4) Complete 50 pages of solid opening content by the March 22 deadline. Depending upon how busy things get once my courses are in full swing, this goal may end up being either too ambitious or not ambitious enough. I'll play it by ear and revise the goal as needed, taking into account the fact that my progress on the opening chapters has thus far been quite slow. As you can imagine, I'm putting a lot of thought into how I can best introduce my characters and establish their personalities, and while moving along so slowly may not be the ideal, it’s certainly better than not moving along at all.
And there you have it, my renewed mission for the first several months of 2012. What are your goals and dreams as you move forward this year, and do you have any advice or insight to help an aspiring writer?