One Change to Your Writing World

Deadlines are a motivator for me, reliably generating action. About a year ago I enrolled in an online course about making time to write with content access for 12 months. I’m not quite sure how but I managed to forget about it entirely until about three weeks before it was to expire. In my mind I’d been moaning about not having time to write. If only I’d made the time to do the course earlier …

With writing courses there are usually actions that can be incorporated into existing routines. As I worked through the course, I thought about how I could mix up my process to reclaim the sense of joy that writing provides in my life. One of the last sections was about tools to help you write, including a tip to check out available writing applications. I have tried many apps but find that writing in Word or Pages, with using Scrivener for larger pieces, works well enough. I can synchronise through the cloud and over time it has become easier to track down documents, regardless of the application used to create them.

One of the icons that popped up for writing applications was Ulysses. I had seen it before but it didn’t appeal at the time. Upon revisiting it, I saw there was a 14 day trial available. The online reviews were largely positive and upfront about the differences compared to traditional word-processing applications. There was talk of markdown and coding along with an assurance that it wasn’t critical to get too involved in this side.

What appealed was writing across my phone, tablet and laptop with automatic synchronisation. The ability to export in various formats was attractive, as was the option to export straight into WordPress. Whilst I can use the draft blog post section in WordPress, the idea of having draft posts in the one spot but sortable by keywords or groups suits the way my mind works.

So I’m giving it a go. Whilst I don’t want an endless proliferation of programs and platforms to write on, this meets my current needs as I’m working on a number of short stories, blog posts, and a couple of longer pieces. I can easily see work in progress, and move around projects without jumping between applications. There is a very simple writing environment which also helps to focus on the task at hand.

By taking on this suggestion I have had a burst of writing activity. Whether it is sustainable will tell over time. For now, I’m glad that shaking up my routine has lead to a feeling of reconnection with the world of writing.

When was the last time you made a single change to your writing?

[Photo: butterfly in the garden]

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Deadlines: whooshing or otherwise?

An oft quoted phrase attributed to Douglas Adams is “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” I’m not sure if it is emblematic of my tendency to comply, but deadlines tend to translate into results for me.

A simple example would be my blog posts. I made a decision before I started to blog that I would try to write two posts a week. This was based on wanting to write about the Blue Mountains area in particular, effectively from the viewpoint of being a tourist in my adopted home, but I also wanted to explore writing habits and practices. Occasionally I have meandered off the track at times, but in essence this remains the focus for my blogging.

There have been times when I have faced the blank page, bereft of thoughts let alone ideas. But so far – touch wood – I have managed to come up with something before each due date. There are times when there is an abundance of ideas for one theme but not the other, reflective perhaps of where my mind is at that point of time. These ideas are captured and explored when time allows. Having a writing rhythm helps, and I know that it is preferable to have a draft, no matter how insignificant or rough, which can be expanded and edited at least a day or two before I’m due to post. There are times though when it is more of a last minute dash to get the words down.

My blogging schedule is self-imposed, but I try to apply the same discipline to writing competition deadlines. I keep an eye out for upcoming competitions and jot down key details on a whiteboard so I can submit a piece if appropriate. When I first started to mix with other writers, I was fortunate to meet an accomplished and prolific poet and short story writer in the central west. He invited me around for a chat one afternoon and showed me how he kept a stack of polished works ready for upcoming competitions, and explained how he would write new pieces for competition themes when necessary. A piece might not succeed in one competition but could place or win in another. The key was to be ready to meet the deadline and to adhere to the competition entry requirements.

Due to time constraints I am selective about the competitions I enter, but I find that deadlines hold me accountable and encourage me to produce and polish a piece for submission, rather than just scratching in the margins of a writing life.

What do writing deadlines mean to you?

[Photo: old typewriter]

(Some) Wednesdays are for Writing

Today is my first official writing Wednesday. I have negotiated some leave and have eight Wednesdays, including today, between now and the end of the year that are just for me. These days are separate from work and family obligations, and are part of my still evolving plan to carve out more time for things that really matter in my life. Like writing.

It was not my intention when I came up with the idea that the entire day would be devoted to writing. Truly, it was an epiphany that struck me one Wednesday afternoon that life would be more enjoyable if I worked a little less.  I know what I’m like. I’m organised enough to have a few things that I want to accomplish throughout the day. I know that I will get through these tasks, particularly as some of them have deadlines attached. Having the day laid out with a schedule would not work. What I needed was a clear idea of what I wanted to get done and the space to accomplish it.

Whilst it wasn’t a work day, I stuck with what I usually do of a morning before work – my morning pages and meditation. Then the day was a rather delightful mixed bag of writing, chores and just being at home.

I have polished the piece for my writing group submission around doing some washing and picking up some of the bark and sticks and debris after the very heavy rain and high winds of the past week. I finalised the creative work which is my contribution for the Deep Red Scarlet Pen Project through Emma Kay Inks. The last writing session on my novel has been proofread and I’m all set to add to it once I finish this post. I’ve caught up on reading relating to writing and followed up on some of the links that have been waiting for my attention on my ‘when-I-have-time’ list. I also took my dog for a wander down the road in the late afternoon light, enjoying the bold wattle blossoms and the hedges of camellias in bloom, the hectares of gum trees on the other side of the road, simply being for a change rather than rushing.

For me, writing does not happen in isolation. It is integrated into various aspects of my life, and is fuelled and inspired by the extraordinary and mundane in the everyday. I’m chuffed I’ve managed to create some space to let more of it into my life.

How does writing fit into your life?

[Photo: close of up of one of the two majestic lions guarding the entrance of the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba]