On the value of inspiration, working on multiple things and completely unrealistic goal-setting.

So, a couple of days ago, I did something rather silly.

This is hardly unusual for me – I do stupid shit all the time – yet on this occasion it really got me thinking. When I announced that I was setting myself a goal to try and complete my book by the end of the month after well over a  year of not completing my book, I was all fired up; ready to go all NaNoWriMo on that thing and nail it.

Until I booted up the word file again.

It’s funny, the last time I was blogging, I was just starting the project. Having re-read a bunch of my old posts recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should just start a new one, as I feel my old comments and stuff don’t really represent me anymore. I was a different person, at a very different time in my life. I didn’t have a beard for a start. What the hell.

To digress, loading up that word file and skimming over a whole array of the narrative, it became pretty clear to me that it was a completely mixed bag. At the risk of sounding pretentious – which I always do anyway because of my bloody generic British accent – there are some passages and jokes that I’m genuinely really proud of, and that I think could work perhaps as sketches or short stories in their own right.

And then there’s the drivel.

My god, it’s so easy to see where I wrote because I had a surge of inspiration, and where I wrote because I thought, “I want to be a writer, I have to just power through this.” Whole sections of my book, mostly in parts I’ve constructed fairly recently, serve no real purpose to the narrative, have no real clever humor behind them, and serve only to artificially inflate the relatively low word count. I literally wrote about a very well-spoken man-bear-thing being summoned accidentally by a bunch of heavily welsh accented druids to fight an incoming invasion of the undead.

Hmm, make of that what you will, I’m not sure it would survive a hypothetical second draft.

So, yeah, declaring happily over Facebook that I was capable of finishing this thing in a matter of days/weeks was probably not my finest hour. Plus, it was mid-way through February, the shortest month. I didn’t even have the luxury of it being a leap year. What a deadline.

However, by setting myself that goal, I made myself want to keep on trying, to keep on writing. I know fully well what I want my career to be, regardless of the gamble involved. And there, I think, is the value of setting yourself an unrealistic goal. By saying, “I want to do this thing!” despite the potential odds against, there’s still that drive there, that compulsion to not let others, or in a lot of cases, yourself, down.

It applies to a whole array of things too, particularly within the arts. The best advice I’ve ever heard regarding trying to accomplish something is to never just talk about oneself as an “aspiring” artist, film-maker, writer or whatever. “Aspiring,” really doesn’t mean anything in the long run, the same way that saying “I desire a mars bar,” wouldn’t magically make a mars bar fall from the sky into your hands, as magical and amazing as that would be. It’s a case of actually going out and owning it, and being able to say, “I’m a writer/musician/animator”, or whatever it is that you want to be.

Hence the re-start of my blog. I’m diversifying myself, not giving myself tunnel vision anymore by blindly focusing on one thing that may or may not ever actually work. I guess I’m also trying to give out the message that if anybody feels demotivated or uninspired regarding their aspirations, it’s worth taking a step back and trying to approach the same goal from a different angle before burnout occurs. If you know you want to accomplish or become something then never, ever give up. It can take time, years even, but you’ll nail it.

So, whilst it may be curtains for my comic fantasy novel, whether it be a temporary or permanent hiatus, rest assured I’m still going to keep writing.

I’m a writer, it’s what I do.


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