Where I’ve been writing recently

It’s been a busy few months in my writing world, with the first draft of a new play due at the end of September and a few freelance commissions. I also attended a fantastic two-day Feature Writing masterclass with Anna Krien and had the pleasure of hosting a seminar about publishing with Jacinta di Mase and Rochelle Fernandez.

Below is a list of a few new publications I’ve racked up, for those who want to follow along.

The Cusp:

How To Take A Headshot When You Can’t Afford To Pay A Professional

Skills I Gained From My First Few (Not So Great) Jobs

Five Things I Switched Out To Afford Working Only Three Days A Week

How To Maintain Your Friendships In Your 20s

How To Take Olympic Inspiration And Use It For Motivation In Your Life

Writing Queensland: Track finances now – Avoid pain later

The Writers Bloc: What Even Is A Mentor?

 

What have you been writing lately?

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Changing perspectives

This week, I’ve started work on a new play, the idea for which has been slowly germinating for the past few years. It’s exciting to start work on a project that I’ve thought about for a long time, but when I sat down to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it may be) I realised that I was still stuck on the outside of the idea, looking in.

While I know the concept I want to explore, and that the stage is the right place to explore it, I don’t yet have my story or characters. Without these to act as vessels, I’m unable to wander any further into the ideas I want to end up sharing in the script. I feel like a pirate standing on the shore, able to see with my spyglass the endless waters with their potential for new booty and undiscovered land, but no boat to get me there. And by my beard, it doesn’t feel good.

Luckily, I’ve picked up some tricks for getting out of these kinds of sticking points. Instead of entering into the idea in the way I thought I would or using the type of character I’d always envisioned, it’s time to look at the idea from a new perspective.

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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.

Last weekend I visited Brisbane’s City Hall with my friend Jami, where we took a little tour to learn about the building’s history and architecture. One of the best parts of the tour was heading right up into the clock tour and peering back down on our city below. Buildings we knew at street level looked like tiny toys, especially Albert St Church, where Jami is going to be getting married in August!

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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.
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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.

There’s something refreshing about seeing things so familiar in a whole new way, and that’s the approach I’ll be taking with my play, too. The ideas I’ve had floating around my head and journals need a refresh, so it’s out with the old and in with some new ways of thinking about this play. I’ll be throwing any and all ideas at it this week, until I see what sticks best.

Do you find a new perspective helps clear your mind of stale ideas?

How to: set your 2016 writing goals

My guide, as a compulsive goal setter, to setting your 2016 writing goals.

Writinggoals2016

1. Be realistic…

Look at your timetable, budget and set-in-stone commitments and set goals that will be achievable within these bounds. This isn’t about giving yourself an excuse to slack off, but making a well thought out plan that doesn’t give you any excuses not to execute it.

2. …and check your hubris at the door

When you know that it takes most writers a serious chunk of time to write a novel draft, don’t convince yourself that you’ll need just two months to get your very first attempt from imagination to paper. If you’ve not delved into the world of screenplays before, pinning all your hopes on penning an Oscar winner might not be a smart plan for 2016, either.

As with the first point, setting realistic, achievable goals will help you set yourself up for success rather than failure. Part of this is keeping yourself humble while dreaming big enough to push yourself to the next level.

3. Look for opportunities at your level

When I look back at my career, it’s often clear to me why I was given some opportunities and missed out on others. The opportunities I’ve received have been suitable for my stage of development, and I’ve had all the right tools in my arsenal to apply for them. My rejections have usually been from programs or grants that were for artists with more experience than me, or could demonstrate practice in an area specific to the opportunity (not just someone who thought it sounded cool!).

Of course it’s good to aim high and sometimes apply for the big, scary opportunities, but too much time spent on applications for programs you’re not suited for can see you missing out on opportunities at your level. The burnout of hardcore application writing for little result when you’re applying above your level is also super counterproductive.

Think smart about the opportunities you’re going to gun for in 2016, and don’t forget to plot them on a calendar so you know when your applications are due and what work you’ll need to do for them.

4. Own your attitude

It’s not just word counts or finished drafts that make up a well rounded writing goal list. Setting some intentions for how you’re going to practice your creative practice can be just as important. These could include:

  • Show up, and show up with some positivity.
  • Commit to not whinging about how hard life is as a writer (and write more instead).
  • Treat your writing business as a business, and whip your attitude into business-like physique.

5. Check in regularly

Motivation is tough to maintain for the long haul. Checking in every month or two will keep you on track and help you break your bigger goals into smaller, achievable to-dos. You can also use these check ins to readjust your goals, if your circumstances change or you find a goal is no longer a good fit for you (or you’ve already achieved it)

6. Find your productivity posse

Checking in with other writers to talk about craft, the industry, challenges and your ideas and projects is refreshing, and can help you keep on the right track to achieve you goals. You might plan regular meet ups with writers in your area, or engage in online conversations with writers and bloggers.

 

My 2016 writing goals include:

*finishing two full length play drafts to submit to opportunities like Playlab or Playwriting Australia’s development programs

*setting up a “Play Group” – a writers group for playwrights in my city

*tripling my writing income from 2014-2015 financial year (a goal I’ve achieved for the past two years, but the maths of this one is starting to make it a pretty lofty ambition!)

Have you set any goals for 2016, writing or otherwise? What are your top tips for successful goal setting?

Writing

Although confident I could take a position as a professional donut eater, I (Lauren Sherritt) am a writer by trade. Here I post links to recently written offerings that you might like to devour, I’d recommend grabbing a donut while you’re at it. If you’d like to get in touch with me about my writing, please email me.

Blogcademy Brisbane - 2013
Blogcademy Brisbane – 2013

2016

The Cusp: How To Take A Headshot When You Can’t Afford To Pay A Professional

The Cusp: Skills I Gained From My First Few (Not So Great) Jobs

The Cusp: Five Things I Switched Out To Afford Working Only Three Days A Week

The Cusp: How To Maintain Your Friendships In Your 20s

The Cusp: How To Take Olympic Inspiration And Use It For Motivation In Your Life

Writing Queensland: Track finances now – Avoid pain later

The Writers Bloc: What Even Is A Mentor?

The Cusp: 7 Ways To Be Assertive At Work That Are Helpful Instead Of Annoying

Junkee: How Facebook’s Message Filtering System Stopped Me from Maybe Becoming an Olympian

2015

The Financial Diet: The Conversation You Need to Have If You Don’t Have Money to Spend this Holiday Season

The Financial Diet: How to Start Treating Your Spending Habits like a Profession

Birdee Mag: Living on a Budget, a Blessing in Disguise

2014

Birdee Mag: Everyday Meditation

Birdee Mag: When Your Parents Become Your Friends

Birdee Mag: Paintbrush, Meet Wine Glass

Trend Hungry: How to Organize Your Jewellery

Ongoing

LifeMusicMedia: Interviews & Reviews

Australian Stage: Reviews

 

Image by Janneke Storm