Forward always, always forward

I began watching Luke Cage this weekend, and there’s a phrase the echoes throughout the first few episodes (perhaps further, but I’m only on episode 4). Luke and Pop have a call and response: “Forward always,” Luke says, “Always forward,” Pop replies. In the series, this statement is loaded with emotion, with the past experiences of both men. But it’s also a motto of resilience against all odds.

(there is so much that could be said about this phrase and the show and about the unabashed black-ness of Luke Cage, but that’s not what my blog is about. but the show is seriously worth watching, even for those who aren’t big superhero fans)

Forward always.

I started September with the grand notion that I would write every single day. That didn’t happen. Once again, I let my emotions and unhappiness about work get in the way. I chose to watch TV and movies and read instead of writing. I did read a lot – about 8 books. And I count reading as essential to my writing process, but there is a fine line between reading for inspiration and to analyze story structure, and simply reading for escape.

I read for escape, which is not a bad thing, but it doesn’t help me move forward.

It probably wasn’t only unhappiness that kept me from writing, but also fear. Fear that I am starting yet another story that I will never finish, that I could spend months working on this half-formed idea and never find an ending. Fear that I will never reach a place in any of my manuscripts where I could move forward with pursuing publication.

I see the beginning of a new month as a sort of cosmic reset. I didn’t work out enough this month? No problem, I’ll try to make it to the gym a couple more times this month. I spent too much money? I’ll bring my lunch to work a couple of times and I’ll already be doing better! I drank too much? Not a problem, just drink a couple of drinks less this month or stay in one weekend.

In almost every facet of my life, I can see where just scaling back or up a little bit to get closer to my goals is a sensible way to achieve them. And if I don’t do better this month? That’s OK, there’s always another month right around the corner.

But I can’t manage to translate that into writing.

Maybe it’s that I usually jump into a new project head first, with very little initial planning and then work my plot into tangles that I can’t undo. Maybe it’s that I lose steam or am affected by my office life and personal life too much to find consistency in my writing routine. Maybe it’s that I’ll make any excuse to prove to myself that I don’t really care if I don’t move forward with writing.

NaNoWriMo is less than a month away. This year, I am going to take planning for my favorite month of the year a little more seriously. Even if I only manage to do planning on the weekends, that’s still 4 weekends before I sit down to start drafting. I know I’ll never be a meticulous planner, but I am hoping to lay out a basic plot arc for my characters, dive deeper into understanding their motivations, and continue background research.

I’m going to finally finish reading K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel (and other writing related books and articles – suggestions welcome!). I’m going to reread the legends, folktales, and fairy tales that have inspired my story thus far. I am going to actually sit my butt in my chair and brainstorm, free-write, jot down random thoughts. I am going to finally take myself and my writing seriously.

November 1 is the greatest writing related cosmic reset of all. I can’t wait to jump in and start drafting. But first, I must lay the ground work to be able to move forward.

Always forward.

 

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