Thursday, 29 June 2017

Milestones

Any time you try to take on something new, you're taking a risk. Will you be able to do it? Will you fail? Will you be laughed at? This is nothing new. Common wisdom. Perpetual cliche. The stuff motivational speakers mine to make a point.

But that doesn't make it any less true.

I've been taking this writing thing seriously for just around six months now. I don't know how many writing, publishing, and marketing podcasts I've listened to. I don't know the total number of words I've written. I don't know how many pages of writing advice books I've read or listened to. But I know I've enjoyed the ride despite the risk of failing. And I still may fail, but that's okay because at least I feel like I'm trying as hard as I can right now, and I feel like I'm improving word by word. At least I hope so. (does self-doubt ever go away?)

I'd like to share a risk and a very small victory. If you're one of the two people who has been following my blog, you know I've been taking part in monthly Creative Writing Challenge threads on the NeoGAF forums. Well, last week I took part in one and was voted the winner of the challenge out of a total of ten story submissions. The votes for these challenges are done by the other aspiring writers who contribute to them, which makes it even better, as I'm among my peers who are also struggling and pushing themselves to improve their craft.

I have to say, this feels pretty good even if there is no cash prize or prestige attached to it, and even if I personally felt the story I submitted wasn't all that great. Nevermind that the challenge is forgotten as soon as it's over and then it's on to the next one. But that's not the point even though it's neat to be given the responsibility of setting the next theme and posting the new thread for the next Creative Writing Challenge. (I post as Alucard) The point is, others liked it enough to vote for it, and that's pretty cool.

I'm not going to say this was some massive risk I took in throwing my stories out there and hoping that I got a positive reaction while fearing that I would write the worst prose ever. It wasn't. It's just an informal message forum with a monthly thread that has a small rotating community with a few regulars. Still, I risked the time it took to write the stories and polish them as best as I could given my current skill level. I've been at it for a little while, and it's getting easier and harder the deeper I go: easier to come up with ideas and easier to write, but harder to make sure the ideas are good and so is the writing.

Both of these things will only continue to improve, and I'm going to keep focusing on developing my ability to tell a story well by participating in these monthly challenges for as long as I can, always trying to win or at least get into the top three. I think this is a small goal, but it's the type of goal that's ideal for where I'm at right now.

I'll just keep going.

I'm still pushing myself to write at least three hundred words per day and to read thirty pages per day. So far so good. The productivity app I have on my phone is keeping me honest and motivating me to make sure I don't miss a beat, or at least get back on the horse as soon as I can if I do end up stumbling.

It's a long road. I know that. I knew that going in, so here I am re-stating it again. But at least I'm enjoying the journey with the small milestones and victories along the way.

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