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I came across this.  Go and read it.  I’ll wait.

The post is about whether quality trumps quantity in the blogging world, or the other way around.  If you post too often, you don’t have time to do anything else, and your post quality suffers.  If you post too infrequently, your posts go unnoticed in the plethora of other people’s words.

I fall into the posting too frequently camp, I think.

I got excited by my new toy and the idea of sharing all of the wonderful ideas I had, and got into the habit of posting every day.  The trouble is, now I feel like I have to post every day, and some days I don’t really have anything to say.  I don’t want to be held captive by my own blog.

The author suggests defining your goals a bit more clearly.  Think about why you’re blogging and decide what will help you with that.

So…

I started the blog to share ideas I’d had that I didn’t have time to do anything with, or didn’t feel strongly enough about to want to do anything with.  And to share fiction that I write.

Those are still good goals.  I just don’t have enough worthwhile ideas to post every day, and finding them is cutting into my writing time.  Which kind of defeats the point.

Here’s the new plan.

Friday Fiction will remain.  But I’m cutting back on the random-idea posts to twice a week.  I’m thinking Sunday and Wednesday.

What are your opinions on this?  Do you think I’m making the right decision?

This past weekend, I have been mostly hitting people.

I was at a training seminar for Shorinji Kempo, the martial art that I do, with people from all over the country. It was good fun, very instructive, and generally worth going to.

Shorinji Kempo has philosophical elements, and unlike some martial arts they are explicitly built into the gradings, from the very first white to yellow belt one. One of the topics is “how to learn Shorinji Kempo”, and we all know that it can be applied to other things too.

So here it is: the eight points of why writing is like Shorinji Kempo.

1. Have goals

I mentioned this a few days ago, in a way which may have sounded like I was denying the need for goals. (I wasn’t, I was explaining why a particular goal wasn’t on my list.) Goals are important. They make you feel like you’re getting somewhere, and they are a good way of making sure you continue to progress.

2. Learn in the correct sequence

You can’t write a novel before coming up with an idea. For some people, you can’t write a novel without planning it out. Learn what the correct sequence is for you, and then do things in that order.

3. Learn the basics

Grammar. Spelling. How to punch correctly. It’s all the same.

A wise man once said “if you have mastered jun zuki then you have mastered Shorinji Kempo”.

4. Learn the principles

If you know where somebody’s balance is weak, you can make them fall over when they grab you, even if you’ve never been taught that specific throw. Likewise, if you know the principles of writing – how to create and dispel tension, how to create a specific atmosphere, how to make people read faster, read slower, or keep reading all night – then you can apply them to new situations, ones in which you’ve never been given specific advice.

5. Repetition, repetition, repetition

Keep writing. It won’t be perfect the first time, so write the scene as many times as it needs to make it perfect. Keep writing. And then write some more.

6. Balance your training

In Kempo this refers to the balance between hard and soft techniques, mental and physical, left and right, strength and compassion.

Don’t neglect anything entirely. Yes, you may be writing a novel, but there’s no reason not to also write short stories, blog entries, poetry, even jokes. Write in the first person, third person, second person, singular and plural. Write in another language if you know one. Each word you write will teach you something, and none of the types of writing are entirely independent.

7. Train to your own physical standard

This one is harder, I’ll admit. There aren’t many physical requirements for writing. You don’t even need fingers to type with these days. So we’ll twist it slightly, to working within our own personal constraints, be that time constraints, health constraints, or simply ability.

Do you only have an hour a week that you can devote to writing? That’s not a problem, it’ll just take you longer to write things.

Do you have chronic fatigue, or Parkinson’s, or ADD? Don’t let that stop you. If you want to write, then write!

8. Never give up.

This one, I hope, is self explanatory. Been rejected? Missed a deadline? Written a very large quantity of rubbish? Keep writing. More importantly, keep sharing your writing with others.

In general, I find that having goals is a Good Thing.  It’s useful to know what you intend to do in a day, in a week, or in a month.  Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can achieve in a year.

I’ve been running some experiments and discovered that I can usually write 400-500 words in a day, given my other commitments.  Not all of them are good words, in fact many of them are not, but that’s not the point.  The point is that if I do that, every day, I could have the first draft of a novel written in half a year.  That actually boggles my mind, because I was expecting it to take several years.  Half a year?  That’s a goal I could get behind.

But here’s the thing.

Goals should not take over your life.

When I was away camping last week, I didn’t write anything.  Not one word, for six days.  I know there will be other weeks this year when similar things happen.  So maybe my novel will take a little longer.  And that’s ok, because writing a novel in half a year is not the be-all and end-all of my life.

Some people would say that this means I am not a “proper writer”, or not “passionate enough” or some such.  I laugh in their general direction.  Their mother was a hamster and their father smelled of elderberries.  If they don’t go away I shall taunt them a second time.  Or something.  This post is not written for them.

This post is written for those people who love writing, who want to write, but who also have a life outside, in the real world.  To them I want to say: You Are Not Alone.  Set goals if you want; write when you can; but do not worry if you don’t write every day.

Dragging myself back to the point, writing a novel is too much of a long term goal for me.  Things change, new oportunities come up and steal my time, and I find it difficult to maintain interest if the end of the project is in many months time.  That’s why I have decided not to set the goal of writing a novel in half a year.  Or even writing a novel.

That isn’t to say that I won’t be writing a novel, of course, but writing the novel is not my main goal – writing is.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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