Friday, January 25, 2008

Surviving the 'Most Depressing Day of the Year'

I'm feeling good this morning (well, nearly afternoon now), mostly, because it’s Friday and I am faced the prospect of two days off, and the end of a very stressful week. Also, I'm very happy it’s no longer Monday the 21st of January; which has achieved cult status as being the ‘official the most depressing day of the year’. So, at least this past Monday I had a very good reason to be a little bit 'under the weather' and frankly wishing I was curled up under my duvet reading something very light and fluffy.

The 21st Of January signifies for many people a sad reality check that even the best resolutions get broken, that those bills from the holidays will not disappear (no matter where you hide the credit card statements), and that your big pay rise isn't likely to materialize this year (or at least not this month). All these mitigating factors lead many people to become depressed. However, they've led me to one overwhelming sense of purpose-- to actually work harder to keep my resolutions. So, c'mon 2008, I'm ready! Let’s make this a wonderful (and productive) year!

Since I've clearly decided that I need a big change, here are my compass points that I will use to gauge my success. Hopefully, at the end of this year I'll be able to update you with my blinding success-- or at least with news that I've broken through the realm of mediocrity.

Cultivate my writing routine.
Since I left University I've found that I really lack structure in my writing habits. Before I went to University I had a fabulous writing routine that enabled me to get loads of writing done in the evenings after school/work/swimming. I'm not sure how as a fairly busy teen I managed to get more work done creatively then as a young adult-- but something about work seems to drain me. However, I've been using this excuse for far too long. I believe in small achievable goals, and currently my goal is to get myself into a very good (and somewhat structured) routine.

Write 500 words a day (or at least 2500 words a week). My cohort Maverick posted a wonderful post about treating working on her novel like its work for a client. I can't agree more with her sentiments. My novel(s)/short stories/poems/etc are just as important as work that I do for my ‘day job’; because my writing is a job. I'm very organized, goal driven, and detail orientated in my ‘day job’. I never miss deadlines at work. In other words, I take my ‘day job’ very seriously. Its time I started treating my 'night job', my writing, the same way. Crafting a story is work (as well as an enjoyable process). If I want to succeed at writing I need to force myself to put the time in and meet my deadlines. The only one I'm cheating is myself (and my poor long suffering characters).

Post and maintain this blog more regularly. I think my slacking off speaks for itself.

Submit stories/poems to competitions/magazines. As a teenager I had a lot of success winning competitions and getting published in magazines geared for teens. I'm not sure why this was-- but believe it or not, this early success has terrified me as an adult and caused me to fear submitting to anything, period. I think this is because I'm scared I'll get rejected (over and over again). However, if I never try, I'll always let that fear cripple me. So, this year, I'm looking forward to my slew of rejections and hoping to do something creative with them--maybe I'll use them to make a paper mache lobster piñata that I'll burst when I finally get an acceptance? I'm open to suggestions on this one.

Work on creating a freelancing profile. It’s not secret (at least not to me!) that I'm clearly meant to have a career in writing. I adore working in publishing and want to stay in this industry for as long as possible (my whole life!) but I would also like to spend this year growing as a freelance writer and gaining experience in the world of freelance copywriting. Before I got married I had been actively writing articles for a beauty website (which is ironic as I never wear makeup). Now that I've comfortably settled into married life I would really like to resume freelancing again. So, I'm going to take a deep breath and jump back into the hectic world of freelancing.

Join Writing Group. For me this will be a very intimidating experience. It’s been a long time since I was in a writing group (over a year now) and while I enjoy the support and critiques of a group, I'm very private about my writing and find it hard to pass my work along to others. I'm not good about letting my words go off into the wide world. However, now is the time of year to change all that.

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