Going steady

I just broke the 36k barrier tonight (by 2 words, but hey, I broke it!). With a write-in planned on Tuesday morning and two full-day write-ins for Saturday and the following Wednesday, I’ve got plenty of scope to finish, and by now I’ve established a reasonable routine, sitting typing on the laptop in the evenings that would normally just be spent in front of the TV, so hopefully I’ve got something that I can maintain beyond the 50k and beyond the 30th Nov.

My faith in my writing skills is starting to falter rather, but I tell myself it just shows I know my limitations. That I can look at my writing and see that it falls short of where it should be. If I can do that, then I should be able to work out how to bring it up to a better standard, shouldn’t I?

And I should be starting to improve a little, with all this practice … and there’s always editing.

I find myself contemplating how to increase my skill at writing. The obvious way is to take a course, but then that raises at least two questions: which one and how do I afford it? I would love to get back to the Open University and finish my diploma in English Language studies, but to do that I need to do the course that runs in February, which is well out of my budget at the moment. Same applies to affording any creative writing courses from there.

There’s finding a local course, but they vary rather, I suspect. I once tried one of these distance learning writing courses that guarantees you’ve earned your fee in writing income by the end of it or your money back, but I don’t want to write short stories for magazines, endlessly studying the market so I can target my work accurately at what sells, and that’s what it seemed to be aiming at, at least for the first part, which is as far as I got.

I’ve still got my writing group, but while they’re good at pointing out what works or doesn’t work in particular stories, it’s not the targeted work that I feel I need.

I think my best bet for now is to work on the regular writing. To first build up a habit of writing, so that I give the words a chance to flow. Then I can start working to improve the quality as well as the quantity. But the biggest thing is that I can’t improve without writing. That while I make up stories all the time in my head, it’s about time I found the discipline to put them down properly, so that “she has problems with the nursery and decides to move her daughter to a different nursery” becomes details about the specific problems, and the characters and settings come alive for others and not just for my imagination.

It’s time to move my stories from an internal oral tradition to an external written tradition. These stories form themselves all the time. It’s time they were tamed.


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