This is the final post in a series about all the places your slice of life journal can take you. We've talked about why simply keeping this kind of journal is an end in itself--capable of changing your writing and your life.
We've also talked about the possibility that your journal might grow into a collection of precious moments of your life--a collection that may one day help you remember this time...or even capture it so that future generations of your family can experience it.
In each post in this series, I've posed a question--for you to mull over for a while. Here's the question of the day:
Is it time to look back at where you've been and gain some new insight about where you're going with your writing?
(Pssst: if it feels like you're just starting out and it's not time to look back yet. This is for you too. Read on so you know what it feels like when it happens to you. Because it will.)
When your writing journey takes you someplace unexpected.
Do you know the most exciting thing about undertaking a writing project, a writing habit...a writing adventure?
It's that moment after weeks, months, years of writing of covering uncharted territory, spilling miles of ink, when you look over your work.
And you see that you are someone new. A different person, a different writer.
And in that moment, you realize: you have changed--and so have the goals and purposes of your writing.
And you find yourself contemplating new possibilities--a larger writing project, perhaps.
Like I said, your writing habit is an end in itself. But writing habits also have a way of taking us to places we never expected.
Is it time to look for new writing adventures, new directions, new writing projects?
You'll know it because you'll feel restless, ambitious, maybe even terrified. This is what that feels like when it's time:
- You're still writing for yourself, but now you're thinking of writing for an audience too: your kids, your family, the people who read your blog...but really, who knows who your writing will reach?
- You're starting to look for a direction in your writing, those themes that keep coming up, a plot to your story, a way to organize your memoir,
- As you contemplate your new direction, it can seem scary, impossible. You may catch yourself wondering if you should even bother. If it's going to be good enough, or if it's too big of an undertaking?
Here's what I think:
That little voice that's calling you to go a little deeper? to write something longer? to publish something?
Maybe you should listen.
Here are your first steps. And I want to reassure you, you can start in familiar territory.
Using your slices of life for longer writing projects:
This habit you've been building, in capturing your moments will help you move on to a new leg of your writing adventure. Here are 3 few ways you can use your slices of life--or the experience you've gained in writing them:
One: Start writing slices of life that pertain directly to your project.
Keep capturing the moments, the people, the places. Capture the details of your story--whether you're writing fiction, memoir.
Keep your writing fast, furious and fun. Don't overthink it. You may want to make an outline for a larger writing project and I'm not against it--but don't ask your head first. Ask your heart. What story is hiding in there?
Keep your collection so you can use it later--perhaps on our computer. Even the most straightforward non-fiction pieces often have personal anecdotes to help us relate, to keep us engaged. Those are your slices of life...You're going to need them, so start collecting them now.
Two: Look back over your slices of life
Leave the collection you started--don't look at it for one for a week...or two. Then...pick it back up
And read it, like it was someone else's writing. Pour over it like you were searching for unconscious themes, elements that appear again and again.
Have someone else read your slices of life: see what strikes them, what they find compelling, interesting, confusing.
Oh, and choose this person wisely. Pick someone whose writing you respect or whose reading habits you enjoy. Pick someone who inspires you...not someone who leaves you feeling insecure.
I think you'll find that looking back over where you've come will help you find a new direction--give you an idea for your next writing adventure.
Three: Got your writing adventure? Keep writing Slices of Life from time to time.
Here's the thing: some of your best writing will come when you write in short, sweet bursts--and when you don't overthink.
Those ideas? What matters to you? Well, not all of them will appear in your outline, you may not be able to articulate all of your goals and your reasons for writing something.
Do you think your favorite novelist goes into each novel knowing exactly what he or she wants to communicate?
Great writing is permeated by the subconscious--and in the end, those fevered bursts of writing are a way to access those depths.
(Wow, I wish I had an orange hi-lighter to emphasize that point.)
Practice keeping your writing fun and spontaneous as much as possible--even for longer writing adventures!
Discovering you're no longer the writer you were a few months ago. What now?
I believe every writing project you undertake will change you as a writer. And let me illustrate that with a personal anecdote:
When I attempted writing a novel for the first time--5 chapters into the experience, I was not the same writer--or the same person!
Do you think my goals changed after that?
I know yours will too. Let your goals and aspirations grow to fit your writing.
Some questions for you about your direction, your writing:
I want you to think about the following questions. And you know what I find?
There's a quick answer to where you're going as a writer...and then there's a a slightly sneakier, under-the-radar answer.
An answer that you know the whole time, that comes to you later while you're out walking or doing dishes...that you push back or laugh off.
Maybe that sounds weird to you. But the fact is, we often have two kinds of goals for our writing:
- the short-term goals that seem reasonable at the time, that we can easily tell other people...
- the long-term goals that we sometimes keep for ourselves...finishing your memoir--and maybe publishing it, writing a 'how-to' book that people actually buy, getting your first short story published in a literary magazine, writing a play and then seeing it performed...
Like I said, who knows where you're going on this adventure. Take some time to think about your quick answer to my question...and your longer one too.
And get in touch if you want to talk it over. You can reach me in the comments below, at our Book Club on Facebook.
Or, if you don't want to announce your writing goals to the world yet--get in touch with me here. I answer all my emails and love to hear from you.