Last Wednesday, Sue blogged about jumpstarting your writing this July. I have to tell you, I needed to read that. So, inspired by her post, I reflected on another way to get myself writing this summer:
Doing a writing inventory.
If you aren't familiar with the term, businesses do inventory so they know how much product they have on hand. It's a way of stopping everything and seeing exactly what you have on hand.
You see, over the past few months, I have been in a fog and creative writing has been the furthest from my mind. I had nearly forgotten about a flash fiction piece I submitted until I received a rejection letter. Flowery language aside, I felt like this rejection letter was telling me two things about this story 1) my story didn't make sense and 2) my story has been told before. For a moment I thought about ditching the story completely and then the quiet, creative voice stopped me. Instead, I sought feedback (which ended up being surprisingly positive) and after a few edits, I plan on sending the story out again.
After logging the rejection on my submissions spreadsheet, I realized so many of my stories hadn't been submitted in weeks, if not longer. A couple I had even forgotten about recently. I realized, it was time to do inventory.
Doing inventory on your writing means you are taking stock of what you have and where you at in each piece.
I recommend taking out a notebook and poring over your files or handwritten stories and logging all the pieces that you've been working on, even if it's been months since you've touched it.
Do a checklist for each piece that considers the following:
* Is the first draft complete?
* Is it typed? (Am I the only one who lets handwritten stories sit around untyped for months?)
* Have I done the first round of revising?
* Have I asked for and received feedback?
* Have I made revised the story based on the feedback?
* Has this been submitted recently?
* Can I submit this elsewhere, simultaneously?
* Can I edit this piece to match the theme or prompt of a particular competition?
Your answer to each of the above questions will give you a clue about what you can do next.
I have also a treasure trove of half-finished pieces and story starters that have been left untouched. You may want to do an inventory on those as well. Consider these questions:
* What feelings am I trying to evoke with this piece?
* What does my character want?
* What is the setting?
* What is the inciting incident?
* What problem is my character dealing with?
* How can I make things worse/more complicated for this character?
* What is the resolution I am trying for?
* What's missing from this piece?
* Is there a writing contest that I can use to help me build on this story?
Of course, that is just the start of the questions you may ask yourself about various ideas and half-finished stories. Keep your writing weakness in mind as you take stock of your ideas. For example, if your characters never seem to want something, ask yourself if you have given them a "want" as you do inventory. Also, consider marrying two ideas together, whether it's swapping out settings, swapping main (or supporting) characters, or swapping inciting incidents.
One of my favorite activities is poring over old notebooks and running into a half-finished piece that I find amazing all over again. That is essentially what you are doing by taking writing inventory. You are examining the treasure trove of stock that you have and making use of it. You may just find your writing amazing all over again.
Once you are done taking stock, start giving yourself a timeline for each piece. Give yourself a specific weekly or monthly goal, such as finishing one half-finished story each week. Also, use the status of each story and idea as a guideline. If you have more stories needing feedback than you do submittable stories, it's time to get feedback. If you are lacking in new ideas, consider making that your challenge this month.
Hopefully with this in mind, you will be able to get out of your writing slump and get writing again.