Thursday, August 21, 2008

Writing Resolutions

The Acme Author's Link (a great blog with some great writing tips) has posted Tim Hallinan's ten writing resolutions here.

I highly recommend you hop on over and check them out. I am going to have them tattooed onto my forearms (sort of like that guy from the movie, Memento). Tim's closing words ought to whet your appetite to check out the ten resolutions:

"I could easily list ten more, but ten is the tradition. So I'll add an eleventh in the guise of a closing paragraph. In the first chapter of his new memoir, What I Think About When I Think About Running, the great Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami quotes a marathon runner as saying, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” I need to keep that in mind whenever I write.

What that means to me is that there are going to be times when writing hurts: when the words won't come, when the story seems to end in a blind alley, when your characters all turn into people so awful that you would come back from the dead just to prevent them from attending your funeral. All of that is inevitable. What's optional is internalizing that, handing it to the writing demons so they can make me doubt my idea, my characters, my talent. The trick to writing (for me, at least) is the same as the trick for running: keep going anyway. The pain may be there, but I can run (or write) through it as long as I don't turn it into suffering.
And get the next word on the page, which is all that really matters."

Tim Hallinan
www.timothyhallinan.com


I find I'm constantly reassessing what I need to focus on and work harder at, but my writing process is still evolving dramatically. What about you? Do you often set new resolutions or goals for yourself? What are some of yours?

17 comments:

Usman said...

Tim has a great way with words. I loved the pain and sufering qoute.
Am travelling right now so excuse the shorthand reply.
Quick Rs: Finish the novel I am editing.

Therese said...

My biggest challenge is to turn off the "noise" of the literary and publishing worlds and focus on the project at hand.

I want to learn from my mistakes and experiences, but I don't want to paralyze myself with maybes and what-ifs.

So my goal for book #3 is to create an environment (physical and mental) where peace and creativity reign.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm afraid I do too much of that doubting myself. I know I shouldn't but I also know a lot of other writers who do the same.

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh gosh - I definitely need to go check these out. I'm in need of some "resolutions" right about now!

Shauna Roberts said...

I set writing goals for the year in January and sometimes during the year if the need arises.

I also have a list of intentions. (I consider goals things under my personal control, such as submitting a story to a magazine. Intentions are things I want to happen, such as having my story accepted.) The list of intentions keep me aware of the purpose of the actions on the goals list.

Lisa said...

Usman, That sounds like a very good resolution! Good luck to you my friend and safe travels.

Therese, I have been wondering how authors learn to adapt to all of that. I will be very interested in how establish that environment. I've always admired your practicality and your ability to focus, so I already know you'll come up with a solution that works for you.

Charles, I've come to believe that a part of nearly every writer is a great big dollop of neurosis. I believe I got a double scoop ;)

Melissa, Tim's resolutions are pretty practical and definitely pretty challenging. I'm not sure I've met a writer yet who writes as much as he does. He sets a really good example for me.

Shauna, I really like the idea of the intentions -- that really adds another positive dimension to the exercise. I really admire your organization and your approach.

Steve Malley said...

I'm giving outlining a try!

So far, so full-throttle good...

steve said...

Thanks for the link. I've been unable to get much writing done lately--just got my characters into the Chicago Coliseum, where Helena starts channeling the past (the 1912 Bull Moose convention that was held there).

I especially like Tim's Nero Wolfe quote: “The more you put into a brain, the more it can hold.” Rex Stout is one of my favorite authors. Sherlock Holmes said the opposite--he thought the brainhad only so much capacity, and limited his range of knowledge. I think the fat guy on West 35th St. had it right.

Larramie said...

(o)

Sustenance Scout said...

Totally off subject, though not really: I'm plowing through Donald Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel. Is that on your shelf, or have you already read it? Would love to compare notes!

Can't wait to see the tattoo! :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Do I set resolutions? Of course!!! Without them, I wouldn't be able to beat my chest and rail in guilt and misery at my shortcomings. Or rather, I would still do that, but I would have to find a not-so-satisfying spark to set me off.

Tim said...

And I also resolve not to come up with any more resolutions until January. Whenever I feel the urge to create some resolutions, I'll work on my book instead.

Whoops. Was that a resolution?

Lana Gramlich said...

You've just made me realize yet another difference between our respective creative arts.
I have to maintain a balance between producing works & finding outlets to apply them to (shows & etc. events,) & possible funding sources. I can't just paint, or I'll miss deadlines & opportunities.
As a result, my "goals" are often fluid things. Unfortunately my actual painting must take a back seat to the search for financing & art opportunities, but I paint as much as I can when I get the chance.

Patry Francis said...

Great links. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks, too, for all your friendship and support during my illness.

Seachanges said...

Murakami is quite amazing and yes, the pain is there all the time, especially when you know that you have not been writing at all, because... and there is always something. But then all of a sudden it just seems to take over again, and you know it does not matter, these gaps, because sooner or later you're just going to have to write it!

Patti said...

mine: sit your ass down and stop talking. get it on paper. do it.

Lisa said...

Steve Malley, And I'm impressed with your full-throttle progress so far! I will be very interested in tracking your progress with the outlining approach. Write on!

Steve, I like the Nero Wolfe philosophy too -- although sometimes when I'm really cramming information in my brain, I notice things seem slip out while I'm adding ;)

Larramie, Hello!

Karen, I have that book and I also have the workbook (which you're welcome to borrow). I read it and thought it certainly had a lot of great stuff in it, but like many books and blog posts I've read, I was a little early. That's not to say I didn't reap some great information, but I've sort of determined that since I'm on a mission to write a crappy first draft, I'm hoping I've learned enough about craft to end up with something I can work with. I'm hoping that by the time I finish and then begin some serious rewriting (I think that will most certainly precede revisions), if I feel like I want to move forward with what I've got, I will definitely re-read it.

Stewart, You kill me! I love when Google Reader lets me know you've got a new post because every time I go to your blog and see your face photo-shopped in with The Beatles, it just cracks me up and makes me day -- as do your posts.

Tim, Oh man -- I don't know, I think this resolution thing will need careful monitoring. "Oh, you say you want a resolution, weeell you know..." oops stuck on The Beatles :)

Lana, Absolutely! Scott and I have talked about that many times. With painting, you're producing "product" at a much faster rate (God help the painter who isn't!) and you've got to spend at least half of your time working the business end of art. With a novel -- jeeze, it's literally years until the business part of it is even a possibility and then I think a debut novelist goes from a life of writing in near seclusion and obscurity to a strange mode of having to drum up publicity and help sell the book. I definitely envy the visual artist's ability to finish a work of art so quickly; however, I don't envy the necessity to get out there and figure out how to sell it (almost always on your own) in order to finance more art. You go girl. You are a very talented artist.

Seachanges, Yes! I think I'm finally coming to find some balance with that -- for now, that is. It seems that any kind of process or routine that works is only temporary. Life happens or some roadblock pops up to impede the work (usually self-induced in my case) and a whole new strategy has to ensue. I'm learning to go with the flow more and not feel like I "have" to do things that I don't really have to do. I'm also learning that it's okay to have a life and do fun things now and then. Note to self: remember the time and date and refer back when the next inevitable meltdown occurs!

Patti, It really is as simple as that, isn't it? I think that's the first thing that's so hard to accept and yield to. All the rest -- it's all fodder for procrastination and not writing. Write on sister!

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.


Virginia Woolf