January clung to me like plastic wrap. It wasn't bad but after awhile I felt a little trapped and wondered if I'd ever get it off. I know many of you have been hit hard with some crazy winter weather. I hope you're all safe and warm. In the South we complain when the temperature dips below 50; I can't imagine facing temperatures in the negative 20s and below. You have my warmest thoughts. If I could send you all a keg of hot cocoa I would.
So here we are, the second month of this brand new year. Did you set some goals last month? Did you try something new? Did you re-evaluate those goals and ask yourself what works and what doesn't? I spent January doing all of those things. I sat down and put some old advice from a writing professor to good use and committed to daily freewriting for two weeks. I realized, however, that I was spending a lot of energy and time trying to get to the end of a successful freewrite; by the time I was ready to work on something substantial, my brain was muddled and I turned off the computer. Writing practice is important and I do enjoy it, but I had to admit that with my limited energy, I have to really focus on making my words matter. Yes, practice DOES matter. We have to practice in order to get better at anything but I also believe that sometimes we should just dive into our stories and let them guide us rather than any set clock or random prompt. My new freewriting goal is to set aside a few days a week for writing practice and spend the bulk of my writing time working on my new novel.
Yes! I started a brand new novel and I finished the summary this past Saturday. It's 45 pages long and so rough around the edges it looks a bit like barbed wire. I started that all important Chapter One this past Monday morning and the words are flowing. I cannot stress enough how much the summary has helped me solidify my story, determine my theme, and guide the voice and genre for this story. Also, creating a summary is more than an exercise in lassoing your novel; it's a great way to get in those freewriting minutes. Think of it as guided practice with your novel as the prompt. I didn't set a single timer and I was able to write for over two hours each time I sat down to focus on it.
If you've never done a summary for a new story, might I suggest the practice for your next one? It's not as rigid as an outline. It kind of looks like a really terribly laid out rough draft with stage directions and a bit of dialogue and maybe a few descriptions but nothing too concrete. It's a guidebook that lets you start working with scenes, typing your way from start to finish. It helps you keep on track when your mind wants to wander but be aware: your story will change as you work on it. Don't get married to the summary. Casually date it at best and be prepared to be completely derailed. At least when that happens you can still find your way back on track with the summary as a rough guide.
And speaking of new projects, the other two new ventures I've started are the perfect answer to this months question:
BESIDES WRITING, WHAT OTHER CREATIVE OUTLETS DO YOU HAVE?
Sewing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. If I wasn't working with a needle and thread, someone in my family was. This past month, I started a quilt and taught myself how to knit. I forced myself to face my sewing machine fears and my fear of creating something larger than an embroidery hoop and so far it's going really well! Knitting has also been a big bugbear for me. I've wanted to learn for years but every time I started, it was like learning a new language and I just didn't get it. Finally, I found an online tutorial that simplified it and made it so easy. I made a very wonky pot holder and I'm now working on my very first scarf! Here's a picture of the quilting rows I've completed and the beginning of my scarf:
I hope your January was a great one and I hope that February has, so far, been kind and filled with joy. Here's to a wonderful month of new, creative adventures in your writing and any other way you find to express yourself.
Take care, Dear Readers!