This Will Be a Great Year of Writing… in a Week

2017 will be a great year for writing, I can feel it in my bones. I don’t just mean the rise of writing as political protest more generally, around the world, but for me personally. (Yes, forgive me, I am shallow and self-centred this time round.)

And this week has been a little microcosm of that.

It’s a long road ahead, but Voltaire is there to guide me… even at a distance.

First of all, as the title of my blog indicates, the greatest challenge I face as a writer is simply finding the bladidah time to write! So I joined the 5 day writing challenge on Prolifiko, a productivity coaching website aimed specifically at procrastinating writers such as myself. The idea being that by sticking to your resolutions for five days, and being held to account over them, you will develop new habits and will want to continue. My resolution has been a very simple one: to write for one hour a day 6 days a week (7 if I can manage it).

It may seem ridiculous that I cannot commit to writing more at this moment in time, when I am not working and while the children are in school from 8:30 to 15:30 every day. But I am also job hunting, doing some freelance work, reviewing, doing tax returns for two countries, doing housework, sorting out tricky financials and having discussions with solicitors etc. etc. By ‘writing’, I do not mean blogging or book reviews or HR articles or cover letters for job applications, but actual creative writing. Poetry, novel, short story.

So far, so good. I set my alarm for 12 noon and then scribble away blissfully for an hour. I find it works best if I have a combination of older work to edit and then allow myself to play around with ideas and words to bring out some fresh stuff. It certainly never feels like a chore, which confirms my impression that I would be the world’s happiest little writer, if only I didn’t have to do all the other boring bits in life.

Secondly, I’ve tried to apply for jobs I might actually enjoy (typically, those that have to do with books) rather than jobs that will merely pay the bills. Hopefully, I will eventually find one which meets both criteria, but in the meantime it has made the application process a little more fun. Organising a Meet the Agents/Publishers event for Geneva Writers Group in February is also highly energising and much more exciting than running workshops on workforce planning or business strategy.

Thirdly, I submitted a translation sample for a competition (German to English) and have also been in touch about translating crime fiction from Romanian into English. Fingers crossed! The next best thing after writing yourself is to be able to present other writers’ work to a new audience.

Fourth, I have three poems featured today on the literary site Clear Poetry (one I have always enjoyed reading and to which I had previously submitted unsuccessfully). The sound of my own voice makes me cringe a little, but there is audio of me reading the poems too, if you can bear to listen. The moral of the tale: if at first you get rejected, do submit again!

Fifth, I attended a fun-packed book launch  and talked to other writers about their writing process and publication journey, and it helped reset my energy and optimism buttons.

Sixth, I have decided to launch the #EU27Project for reading literature from all of the remaining countries of the EU. The response has been fantastic, and I would invite anyone to join in, whether you can read just one or two or all 27. It’s a project very dear to my heart. Call me a sentimental old idealist, but I was really hoping the European dream would come true. Now I see it in danger of going down in flames, it saddens me. I’ve never belonged to any country in particular, but I do belong to one continent: Europe.

To end on a hopeful note...
To end on a hopeful note…



37 thoughts on “This Will Be a Great Year of Writing… in a Week”

  1. Congratulations on the poems! And good luck with the writing resolutions. A translation gig seems just right for you although I imagine the pay isn’t brilliant. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on all fronts.

  2. A post full of possibilities, Marina. Congratulations on the poems and the many and varied positive steps you’re taking. You’re making such a strong case for joining your EU27 project even though I’ve told myself not to sign up for any challenges. But then it’s not a challenge, it’s a project, right? And I only need read a single book …..

    1. Exactly – I have banned the word ‘challenge’, it’s a much more constructive and positive planting and growing of seeds of ideas project! So do join in, the water’s lovely!

    1. I’ve done a fair share of professional (read: boring technical) translation in my lifetime, so it would be nice to do something more rewarding. Not financially rewarding, as all of my translator friends tell me…

  3. You’re an inspiration! And yes, it is incredibly hard to find the time to write, especially when there are so many other demands on your time. To me, writing still feels like a guilty self-indulgence even though it shouldn’t. But there it is, so I totally understand you, and I applaud your resolution. Go for it–you can do it!

    As for the job hunting and all the many other projects you have on the go: just keep trucking. The right thing will turn up eventually, most probably when you least expect it. Good luck, and happy writing! I look forward to hearing how it’s going… xx 😀

  4. What a ‘green shoots’ post Marina Sofia. I know I’ve said it on an earlier comment, but everything Virginia Woolf says in A Room Of One’s Own is absolutely true. Creative endeavours need a heart and head space to expand into so that their find their shape. The remarkably busy lives which many of us have to lead mean that it can be hard to find that space. I so much hope for you that you can find a kind of ‘allied work’ such as translation to do a bit of paying of bills, in a way which links into the creative place, and so encourages the ease of spending further time in that space.

    I’m not a writer, but I do also know that my ability to think creatively about my own work vanishes when I am too bogged down in the petty small stuff and that it is crucial to find space to get to the expansive place where creative work of any kind, happens. I wish mental mountain tops and ocean horizons your way!

    1. There were very few green shoots pictures in my archive, so I had to make do with what I had! 🙂
      Thank you for your beautiful wishes and good vibes! You are right about the mental space one needs. I feel somewhat guilty about that, when I read about all the other writers who seem to have no trouble writing anywhere, no matter what small confetti of time they have at their disposal, no matter how many awful things are going on in their lives… but, sadly, I’m not one of them.

      1. Sorry to be trite – rejoice in the writer you ARE, for what its worth I loved the depth and space of your ‘Haibon’ (spelling?) post the other day. I don’t think that could have gestated in busy.

        I did write a longer reply but it vanished when I went off to try and check spelling of ‘Haibon’ – multi tabs, never mind multi tasking, didn’t work for me!

        1. Haibun – it’s a Japanese poetic form which appears so much in Genji and other early works – prose with a tanka or haiku conclusion. dVerse Poets Pub took it up and has been running with it ever since, we all love it so much! Sorry to hear your reply vanished – I hate it when that happens (particularly with blogs that are not on WordPress).

  5. So happy to hear your news about the poems, Marina Sofia! That’s great! And I am glad you have so many positive plans for this year. You’ve set your self, I think, a very reasonable writing goal, so it’s more likely you’ll exceed it. I look forward reading what you write.

    1. Today I just spent one and a half hours writing. Went over the allotted time, yippee! OK, it was mostly editing poems, which I just love (I could fiddle about with each word for AGES). But I hope I will have something crimeworthy as well for you to read by the end of the year. Thank you so much for all your encouragement and support!

  6. Go, girl! I feel in my bones that this will be the year your book comes to fruition – busy stuff to do, yes, but you’ve made that major change to your life that’s been hanging over you for a while, so it’s all new horizons from here on in. The translation idea sounds great too – hope that comes off!

    1. Thank you, Jayne, it’s so much nicer thinking about the writing and reading plans than the other things. In an ideal world, I’d only want to read, write, attend literary and theatrical/musical events, and worry about my children’s education.

  7. I am very far from being a writer, although I do draw and paint. It is supposed to be my “profession”, but I often find that real life gets in the way. For me to be creative my mind needs to be free of cumbersome little chores and annoying routine. I am fortunate that from time to time I have a little voice inside my head that tells me when I should attack a project that has been swirling around abstractly, waiting to be made manifest. It can speak to me at the oddest of moments, while being occupied with menial tasks or in the middle of reading an interesting book. If I listen to it, magic happens. I have no fear of making mistakes (the biggest drawback to any creative person) and my hand seems controlled by some visceral, disembodied spirit. Time disappears and I am unencumbered by thought. These moments can last for many hours or for very little time at all. I know when to stop when I become conscious of what I am doing and my hand hesitates. This is not to say that I always work in this manner, but when I do the results always astound me as though I wasn’t responsible for the outcome. Obviously, relying on such nebulous inclinations does not make me a prolific artist, but the visual impact of my work upon others leads me to believe that this has come from a deeper part of myself and that less is, in fact, more. Let other artists “churn” them out.
    Don’t just give yourself an hour to write, Marina Sofia. If the writing starts to flow, go with it until it stops. Allow “it” to decide, not your clock. Listen to the little voice which I believe is inherent in all creative people. Life is so full of extraneous noise that hearing what is inside our heads isn’t always easy, but once one catches on to paying attention the rewards can be very satisfying.

    1. I cannot tell you how happy your comments made me. Thank you, Wally, I so enjoyed our meeting in Provence, and I am flattered that you read my little blog.

      I so hear what you are saying about ‘being disciplined and prolific’ vs. ‘being in the flow’. I just have to find a strategy to compensate for when the everyday burdens wear me out, otherwise no writing would ever get done!

      Besides, I seem to have taken your advice to heart: I spent an hour and a half today on writing, didn’t even feel it go by…

      1. It is the timeless, suspended moments one needs to ride for all they are worth. And do it fearlessly without trying to write……which isn’t as simple as it sounds.
        I started following your blog the moment I saw on my art site that someone had curiously mentioned my name in an article. I anxiously await your return to Provence. We have yet much to discuss.

    1. Baby steps and breathe, I tell myself, baby steps and advance. Hope all the other things won’t take over and overwhelm!
      Thank you for your encouragement, Caroline.

  8. Having a daily writing practice is a very sound idea – Malcolm Gladwell (author of Tipping Point) maintains you need to do something for 10,000 hours to become good at it. I prefer the advice I found somewhere else but cant remember where – that you need to do something 25 times for it to be a habit. So if you can keep going for 25 days of writing, it will become ingrained….

    1. Gosh I hope it’s not 10,000 hours for it to become a habit, as I don’t think I have that long (is that 30 years roughly at one hour per day?). I will certainly try to stick to it for 25 days at least, but of course all may change once I have a proper 9-to-5 job.

  9. Glad the writing is off to a good start! Good luck with the translation competition and the crime novel translation proposal! Keeping my fingers crossed for you! And good luck with the job hunt too!

  10. Exciting times. Congratulations on the poetry and fingers crossed that a suitable job comes your way.

    I love the idea of your EU project, we’ve already discussed it. I may have to do an amended version with books set in the 27 countries 😊

  11. What’s this Chinese proverb again? Every journey starts with one step.

    I’m happy for you for the poems and all the projects that you have. I don’t have the urge to write so I can’t relate on that part but I can relate to the chores that eat all the free time you’d like to have to do non-chores things.

    I hope you’ll finish your book this year.

    I’m sending all the encouragements I can over the Channel. I’ll join you for the Reading Europe challenge. I’m starting with a Belgian book.

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