Writing Secrets: The writer’s promise

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

You might have noticed that I’ve avoided all mention of that R word this new year. Deliberately so. I don’t want to remind you of last year’s determination to run five k’s a day. And I certainly don’t want writing to fall into the guilty-about-not-doing category.

So let’s not talk about resolutions. I believe it’s less likely to create inner resistance and resentment if we speak of intentions.

Intentions can help us build discipline. They don’t need to become the albatross we dangle around our necks to make us feel bad about ourselves.

Whether you intend to begin a substantial writing project or not, don’t neglect your creativity. It’s essential you always give yourself time to day-dream, and the space to exercise your creative muscles.

Any number of people attend our creative writing courses because they feel they’ve lost their capacity to imagine. They’ve spent their lives in corporate or tearing themselves in half trying to please a family. Suddenly they realise they’ve allowed something important to disappear from their lives.

When it comes to writing, make your resolution manageable. Perhaps even more than manageable. Then, when you exceed your expectations, you’ll feel really good about yourself. If you can entrench a writing discipline in your everyday life without pain, it will start to become second nature.

Don’t torture yourself by determining that you’ll write a great work of towering genius for the modern times. Even deciding you’ll “write that book I’ve been meaning to”, can loom over you in a threatening way.

Why do people do that with writing? They’re likely to say: this is the year I’m going to take painting lessons. They don’t say: this is the year I’m going to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Decide to develop your characters. Or, if you’re not at all sure where to start, take a writing course. Sign up for a workshop.  It’ll get you writing, establish a discipline, and the ideas will flow from there.

If you’re busy on a project, but you’re feeling stuck, set yourself the task of writing three great sentences. Even one is better than none at all, and once you’ve written three, you may find that it starts to flow. If you write four good sentences, you’ll feel great about yourself.

Can you realistically write from 4 to 6am every morning? Or can you squeeze three hours on Saturdays and two on Sundays?

Set yourself a manageable target that fits in with your lifestyle and obligations. Success is good for the soul.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Write what you love in 2020

Upcoming course:

Cape Town Creative Writing Course: Starts 3 February

Johannesburg Creative Writing Course: Starts 3 February

Online Creative Writing Course: Starts 3 February

Cape Town Creative Saturday: 1 February

See all 2020 writing adventures

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