Last year, when I started thinking that I wanted to write again, I wasn’t sure where to start. It all began when my best friend had started writing a novel and told me how much fun she was having, and I started to remember how much I enjoyed writing.
I had considered diving back in with NaNoWriMo last November, and I even mentioned doing it together to the same best friend. As the fall approached though, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen for my schedule, and she hadn’t mentioned anything about it. Then, lo and behold, she did NaNoWriMo. Without me. (Okay, she’s a grown woman and if I was really ready to do it, I would have. Nothing but love for her, really.)
Another friend participated as well, and she encouraged me to at least use that month as a means to start making some writing commitments. So I did. And then I failed miserably on all of them. Without someone holding me accountable, I just let it fall by the wayside. I knew I needed a better approach.
At the start of the new year, this past January, I committed again to some blog posts each week. Again, I failed miserably. I had thought that being held accountable by my “followers” on tumblr would be enough to keep me going, but it wasn’t. I mean, really, what were they going to do? Storm my house with pitchforks and torches? They don’t know where I live. And many of them live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.
So, as spring rolled around and I felt myself floundering at this whole “writer” thing, I decided to find a writing class/workshop to take. I thought that with the rigor of assignments and due dates, I would feel compelled to write and my grade-grubbing fear of “poor academic performance” would prohibit me from falling short. I found a six-week online workshop in writing flash fiction, and I enrolled.
Guess what? It worked.
During those six weeks, I wrote more than I had in all the preceding five years combined. Ideas were flowing, writing friendships were building, and it was a delightful experience. I don’t believe that the instructor in that venue was cut out for that course. In fact, I learned little to nothing from the person actually “teaching” the workshop. But I learned something valuable about myself. I need structure and deadlines to write. I need to be part of some form of writing “community” to accomplish the actual writing. I need to know that others are writing “alongside” me at the same time, even if in a virtual space. I just need that camaraderie to hold me accountable. Without it, I am queen of excuses.
This was further proven when I attended a weekend writing workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. In those two days of workshop, I wrote more than I had written in such a brief period of time in my entire life. I was inspired by my classmates, my instructor (who was kind and dynamic and thoughtful and oh-so encouraging), and my environment. It was bliss. And I returned home with ten short stories in some stage of drafting.
I had planned to try to enroll in a creative writing course at the local university. I even reached out to an instructor on campus to find out some more information. But it just didn’t feel like the right choice. With our busy family life right now, I just didn’t see how I could commit to being on campus one night a week (as minimal as that sounds). In addition, the tuition would have been a hefty price tag to rationalize into our budget.
But, after weeks of realizing I’m just not producing without some sort of “push,” I think I’ve decided to enroll in an online course. I’ve done a ridiculous amount of research on schools and instructors and courses. I think I’ve found a course that will be a great fit for me, and I’m excited. It doesn’t begin until October, so even though I’ve already enrolled, I still have some time to change my mind and back out. I think it’s good though. The course is ten weeks long. This will be the longest consistent and consecutive time I have devoted to my writing in ages (likely since my undergraduate days), so I’m excited to see how it works. I’m interested to see if I can maintain momentum and rhythm. I’m anxious to “meet” the instructor and my fellow classmates. I’m just plain excited about the impetus I need to actually write.
Oh, and in case you didn’t notice the dates there, I will be in my class during this year’s NaNoWriMo. So, I just might conquer that beast after all… but I’m not holding my breath.