Sunday, 2 February 2014

Mandatory Application

Greetings patient reader. I can assure you this past few weeks I have most definitely not been distracted from writing. The Creative Writing MA is working its magic demanding my focus on my writing, thus Mandatory Application (see what I did there?!).

Stephen Covey sums it up I think, and since spotting this (I'm always on the look out for an apt photo-quote) I've held it in my mind; used it to help me stay on track.

I think there are four different aspects to keeping focused on my writing - as well as NOT being distracted by other things:

1 - Reading as a Writer
This is something we get a lot of direction on during the MA. It's the BEST bit really. Obviously we writers LOVE reading, right! My favourite *work* right here. I still get to read LOTS, and widely.
Perhaps the downside is, the more I read the more I realise HOW MUCH there is TO read!
In order to get the most out of the MA study, my tutor advised me to focus on short fiction - giving me more opportunities to experiment. Also giving me lots of opportunities to discover works by my favourite writers that I haven't seen before because, before starting the course, I wasn't a big short fan.

2 - Reading to Inspire Writing
This covers a range of activities: reading my monthly subscription to Writing Magazine; reading blogs/books/posts about writing; reading books about writers; reading (and responding to) writing as a craft.
It's also about engaging with writers about their writing. The MA workshops mean I get to read and comment on the work of my fellow students and I'm more confident in reading the work of writer friends and giving honest feedback (and very grateful to get theirs on mine).

3 - Writing to Inspire Writing
I write everyday. Seriously, I STILL do this, I mentioned it to you just over a year ago here  and it absolutely works. I make notes, I play around with ideas. Sometimes I just make lists but whatever I am doing, I am WRITING and it works!

I know, talk about stating the obvious but I've had to draw this out as an aspect all of its own to stop myself doing anything but. This, for me is about actually writing the stories, getting them from ideas, through plans, to actual narratives. Getting better at this aspect has been about developing confidence. The MA has really pushed my hand in this - it requires the Mandatory Application of aspects 1 to 3 to make this work but it also takes a leap of faith in ourselves, and support from others.
Of course, along with confidence it takes motivation which is why I'm carrying this photo-quote around with me!

Of course there are no guarantees whatever we do ... but I'm thoroughly enjoying the *training*.