Everything Connected

It’s taken until Saturday for my brain to be awake enough to process everything currently taking place. Living with a mental health issue can sometimes be a curse, especially when you hold yourself to such a high standard of output. However, on the flip side, it gives you a unique insight into life and how it is lived. On many occasions this week it has been an almost painfully slow task to react and move forward, but with the benefit of sleep and reflection, there’s a lot to be learnt about my practice, and how it is progressing.

Once upon a time, my daily writing workout began with the first blog of the day. Right now I’m creating a poem from an unseen visual prompt when I wake, plus organising two Create Your Own short stories using Twitter polls, and this is a whole new use of brainpower in quite focused bursts. It’s meant a lot of mental energy being expended in unexpected areas. It has also promoted a desire to go back to fiction, which is helpful, because NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. This year, we’re doing something a long way away from previous years’ efforts.

I spent two hours last night planning the direction of my narrative. I’ll also be creating a Playlist this weekend. I should have been writing a post for Patreon, and yesterday I accepted that, if I am the boss, it is occasionally okay to miss a deadline if it means my mental health benefits from that action (which it undoubtedly has.) Balancing all the requirements right now is hard, but getting easier. Any change to routines always results with this kind of mental discomfort.

At least now I know what’s going on.

Most importantly of all this week I made a video from scratch. It’s only just beginning to register how much mental effort was pumped into this, and why as a result I might have felt so tired yesterday. I’m immensely proud of what is here, and already have a vastly different, second piece planned. There’s no point in resting on my laurels either: being able to produce and promote my own work means there doesn’t need to be extra cash to pay others to do it. The more leant, the more self-sufficient I become.

In the end, this is the most important progression of all.

Love’s Great Adventure

Today’s been all about getting dragged, kicking and screaming, outside your comfort zones. I have pulled some Patreon work because, after due consideration, it wasn’t good enough.ย I’ve been writing experimental poetry all afternoon and it’s making me feel really uncomfortable. Oh yes, and then I laid my life bare in quite an unexpected fashion via Social media…

I’d not anticipated how hard this would be until the weekend, when part of my general discomfort was around just how much of my past would be hauled up for general inspection. As it happens, there’s a lot to be said for these choices being made as the right ones, when it would have been an awful lot easier to pick from some generic, obvious alternatives. This way, I will be challenged.

These first two polls are now up and running, and the results will be known in 48 hours. I’ll throw them about a bit later today and tomorrow too, just to see if I can garner a decent range of responses. After all, you never know who might pick these up and ping them into the Void for me… and it means that the results will end up as a genuine surprise. I’m not checking the polls until they’re done.

Once I know the results, I’ll fill in my graphic, and then we can get on with the business of writing. The plan is to have all six drabbles up in their own separate area by the end of the month: if this is successful, we’ll repeat the process with some new things later in the year. As always, it’s about working out whether your content is interesting enough to attract new people not only to your work, but also to potentially stick around as an audience…

Change

I don’t believe anybody who tells you there’s nothing they could do to improve what they are. I also find it increasingly difficult to aspire to anybody’s else’s level of what constitutes competent. Each of us is so different, it seems utterly ridiculous to want to be like anybody else, and yet that’s what happens. Dress like your idol, use their skincare routine, borrow their working practices for a better lifestyle… nope.

When writing, especially, I’m beginning to realise the folly in trying to sound like anybody else except yourself. Sure, it is easy to imitate a style, or a fashion, but these things are so fleeting and often fickle. How do I get better as a writer, regardless of the genre being practiced, without compromising the essence of what I am? Being ‘better’ is clearly the intention, but how does it happen?

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The internet is overflowing with guides, authors happy to offer their ‘advice’ whenever possible. Reading these, it becomes apparent that thereย are perilously few real answers to be found once one moves past ‘spell check, write to the word count, don’t waffle.’ย It is as much a game of persistence as anything else: if you can’t hack being rejected, your career won’t last long. The rarity of hitting your target first try is just that.

For me, therefore, the process of self-improvement was at first daunting, until the sheer repetition of writing every single dayย began to expose flaws I’d not previously grasped. My sentence structure needed work, there were too many personal pronouns. Explaining how things went from A to B was consistently skipped or skimped on. Telling the story required a narrative pathway that often only existed in my head, not on the page.

Only by practice do we finally grasp what it is that is lacking within our work.

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Most importantly, however, it’s being hard on ourselves for not moving at a speed we consider ‘progress’ that can ruin so much achievement in the first place. If you know your rate of change is glacial, expecting to be an expert overnight really is an unrealistic ask. I’m in that camp,ย  only now understanding this journey’s being hamstrung by the past. Once that’s sorted properly, so much more should flow freely.

Therefore in December it’s time to see if freedom of expression can be wrought from some new materials. Processes are already being planned, and if I can look past what has previously managed to derail both confidence and ability… is anything possible? Could EVERYTHING be possible?

There’s only one way to find out.