It is the start of a brand new year and with that comes a brand new vision, brand new goals and brand new ideas- or basically, the desire for or need to change! Last year the themes of my monthly blogs centered around children’s books and while it was fun working on them it is time to change direction a bit. However, since it is The Writing Queen site’s five year anniversary this month, (yup- I can’t believe it either… Where does time go?) and since we are discussing change, I have decided to make my own change- to do something different this year with my blogs.
This year’s blog theme will contain or come from an eclectic range of topics. One month my blog may continue to focus on a children’s story (since I didn’t get enough last year!), another month I may take readers on a journey through a Y.A adventure I enjoyed while providing helpful writing advice for Y.A writers based on that story, another month I may write about an adult novel I appreciated, dissecting it as a way to learn what worked, and of course what didn’t work, for that particular author or for me as the reader, while another month my blog may come from a how to article borrowed from one of my favorite writing magazines or how to write books. Additionally, – who knows- I might even throw in a blog or two with excerpts from some of the writing projects I am currently working on, though only enough to wet the reader’s appetite until and if the projects are ever fully completed.
Basically, anything goes this year! 2018 will bring with it a real smorgasbord of Writing Queen blogs, with one common denominator, of course, as the only condition- all of my blogs will continue to focus on some aspect of writing and reading. After all, the two go hand in hand- like morning and coffee, movies and popcorn or bread and butter! Without good writing we won’t have good reading and without individuals who love to read there won’t be a need for good writing——- so, without further adieu, I give you my first blog of 2018 on writing and reading and because it IS the start of a new year, and time for change!
Why is it that so many of us create new year’s resolutions only to eventually break them? After tiring of the same old perspective and routine, or the same old self, we become eager for change, therefore; we set a goal and cross our fingers that we will grow strong enough to attain it. In writing, as in life, many of us find it difficult to recognize we need to change, or to make decisions. We struggle with going outside our comfort zone to try something new, to discard the tattered old process in which we write our stories, create our art work, or live our lives, therefore; we fail to attain the change we desire or need. In order to secure change we must first realize and accept that there is the need to change to begin with.
For instance, in Bob Mayer’s informative article in the February 2018 Writers Digest, he writes about making changes to our writing processes, and finding a way to fight our fears in order to accomplish success.
Acknowledging that plots and characters “come and go”, the author points out that for successful writers, it is the passion for the process that must burn on that will lead us to success. As we writers know, any good story will center around a fully rounded character arc, but in order to accomplish that feat the character must pass through three stages of change, just as we must do in real life if we want to achieve our resolutions, or simply clinch any goal. Those three stages include the moment of enlightenment ( such as the moment we come up with our new year’s resolutions (or we create a goal) because we realize we need to change something about our process, or about ourself. This stage is followed by the decision stage, which Mayer points out binds the character in a sudden obligation, either externally imposed or internally motivated.
Finally, the third stage that actually accomplishes the change, and the one that has the most potential to break our resolutions, or prevent us from procuring the change- if not realized, -the most difficult stage, is sustained action. Through sustained action in which we have “trained” the new behaviors into becoming habit, we can obtain change.
As Mr. Mayer indicates, most of us struggle with decisions, not because we are afraid of the decision but because we are afraid of making a mistake, or of failing. He further points out that the only way to become an artist is to take risk, or to accept that being wrong is an inherent process of creativity. By testing different methods and identifying which areas you have the most trouble with, you can figure out… who you are as a writer, what type of story you most desire to write, what message you want to send, what idea excites you, what types of characters you want to create and what type of problems they will have as well as what changes they will or won’t attain as part of their character arcs. And you will figure out what changes you need to make to the process you use, or the path you take, to work toward getting yourself across your finish line- whatever that may be.
The author adds that fear of making a mistake or of failure is the number one problem facing every artist, just as it is for individuals in life, and it is that fear that should push us toward recognizing our need to change to begin with. Courage, Mayer says in his article, is taking action in the face of fear. Further, the author embellishes this idea with a great quote from essayist Anais Bin;
“ Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”.
And, adds Mayer, “so does our art”. It is our passion channelled by our writing (or any ) process that fuels our courage. Therefore, in order to attain and maintain sustained action, we – like the fully rounded character arcs we create, must first identify the need to change, make the decision to take the necessary action that will push us forward down the path, and keep at that action until the brand new process becomes a part of who we are as a writer, an artist, or as an individual.
Just as our characters’ have a need to save the day, marry the guy, find the lost treasure, get the bad guy, or become a better or changed person, or whether the every day individual’s need to change includes a resolution to lose weight, exercise more, or save money, it will be possible to achieve that goal only as long as we push fear out of the way in order to clear our cluttered path toward success.
Through identifying our need to change and taking sustained action in the face of fear, we can do anything we set our minds to do, even if it means ripping up the story we have worked on for three years that we know deep down isn’t working, or discarding the size two clothes in our closet that we know will never fit again. It is taking action in the face of fear that will allow us to procure change, reach our goal, or achieve our ever faithful new year’s resolutions, this time for once and for all.