As it’s the start of a new year (January's not over; the year is still very young!), articles like this one pop up all over the interwebs, in addition to the explosion of articles in print which appear like spring daffodils that seem to sprout from nothing, shooting out their yellow-belled cheer overnight. Except cheer and writing don’t always mix. Sure, there’s cheer when you get a new idea, start plugging along with inspiring projects, or finish any work you feel even approaches half-decent, but the process of forming a plan to write consistently, committing yourself to knowing hours stretch before you when you may stare, aggravated, at a blank page or screen... it’s enough to stress you out to the point that even having an idea is a daunting notion.
However, a writer who’s not writing isn’t a writer. As difficult as inspiration is, and as impossible as it is to force inspiring thoughts to manifest themselves, the craft portion of writing only gets stronger with use. Thus, like many others who dabble and drown in the world of writing, I’m attempting to use a new year as a fresh start. So far my concepts and ideas have failed, however in blaming myself (and some pesky germs which knocked me down and rendered me incapable of focusing on anything except breathing and remaining conscious during work hours for two weeks) I also choose to blame technology.
First there’s the distracting nature of the worldwide beast that is the internet. I mean, this place has (nearly) everything and can feed it to you whether you want it or not. That need to feed yourself (usually) useless information becomes highly addictive and counter-productive to doing what you want to and/or should be doing. It can also make you painfully aware of your failings, seeing what others are accomplishing while you’re merely reading about how awesome they are and thinking about how awesome you’re not (yeah, I do this). Lest we forget, technology also gives eleventy-billion more ways to record our ideas and present them to the world. The stream of endless options coupled with global pressure to put out something useful and/or worthwhile can further our own insecurities, and let’s face it, writers are (generally speaking) a pretty insecure lot.
Thus, in addition to that nebulous yearlong goal of ‘writing more,’ which will hopefully soon lend itself to more measurable items within that goal, I’m going to try and stick to a goal of ‘useless internet less.’ This means instead of spending countless times refreshing facebook or twitter to see if anything spontaneously cool, funny, inspiring or random has occurred in the past few minutes (you do this too sometimes, admit it) I hope to use those F5 moments to continue writing when I get stuck, or read a few pages of a book, or (if I must stay plugged into the interwebs) search for something useful and potentially educational or inspiring.
Which prompts me to ask: what are your own writing/creative goals for this year, and what tips, if any, do you have for keeping distractions and that nagging, nay-saying self-doubt at bay?