It's halfway through January already. Time flies, it's amazing. So, I thought I'd talk a little bit about how my New Years goals are coming so far. I never really mentioned them here on the blog, but I'll bore you with it all the same. I won't force you to read it though. You're free to click away at any time.
We mentioned on the show that Rish and I joined the 52 Weeks 25 Stories challenge, which is a group created by Lizanne Herd over on Facebook. I don't participate too much in the chatter of postings over there, mostly just because Facebook isn't my thing. I joined the group more because I like the challenge that it presents me with. If I want to take writing to the next level this year, then I should be able to write 25 stories.
What will it require? Well, it'll require me to write. I'll have to write a lot, write some every day. But as I learned while reading the posts on Dean Wesley Smith's Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, that's what it takes to learn the craft of writing to a level that your stuff will be publishable.
How am I doing? Well, I set the goal to write during my lunch breaks at work every week day. So far, aside from the one day when they called me into work at 3:00 a.m. because someone had called in sick, I've managed to do some writing every day that I've been at work. It may have been precious little writing, sometimes in the neighborhood of two or three hundred words, but I've worked on my story every lunch break since New Years.
What I've been doing, sadly, isn't even writing on the story yet, though. I pinpointed a weakness in my writing last year, and I'm working to overcome it. I've found that I don't plan out my stories well enough before I start writing. So, what invariably happens is I get to some point in the middle of the story, realize I have no idea where I'm going, or that the stuff I've written so far is terrible, or something like that, and then I quit. I never finish what I write, like Heinlein says I should.
So what I'm making myself do, before I actually start writing the story itself, is prepare a bunch of stuff. They are steps that I learned about back in college when I was taking screenwriting classes. First, I have to boil my story down to a one sentence premise. Then, I expand that premise to a one paragraph synopsis that has a beginning, middle, and end. Then I write a treatment, which is several paragraphs (at least four), that gives the beginning, middle, and end in more detail. Then, I write what is called a step outline. This is basically a scene by scene outline of what is going to take place in the story. Lastly, I write a character bio for the main characters of the story. This thing will be long, and will delve into every little aspect of the character. I went through, before the new year hit, and wrote down tons of questions that had to be answered about each important character, and that is done when I write the bio.
This may seem like a huge amount of overkill for a short story, and I have to agree. It really is, but I'm going to do it anyway, because it's an exercise for me. We're nearly two weeks into the year, and I'm still on the step outline and character bios, but I'm getting there. Doing all this has given me time to think on the story a lot more than I would have otherwise. And the story has changed each time I move to the next step. The synopsis is for a slightly different story than the treatment describes. And since I wrote the treatment, I've changed the setting of the story all the way back from present day to 1983, so that will change things a lot too.
So that's how things are going with that.
I'm also continuing my work in the area of fitness that I began last year. I spoke on here about my using HCG to drop around fifty pounds last year. That was cool, but I think I've gone as far as I can with that kind of crap. I've made it to the whole yo-yo thing now. The first time on HCG I lost from 295 lbs. to 265 lbs. Then the next time, I lost from 265 lbs. to 245 lbs. Then the third time, I lost from 265 lbs. down to 245 lbs. And now, guess what I weigh? 265 lbs. Yeah, that's what they call the yo-yo diet effect.
So, I've given up on any stupid diet like that. From what I've heard, anytime you lose more than two pounds a week, you are also losing a considerable amount of muscle along with the fat. Muscle is what uses the calories you eat. So, once you're done losing the weight, the muscle that you had that burned the calories that you ate, is now significantly reduced, and it's twice as easy to gain the weight back.
So, my new deal for this year is to exercise enough that I build up a bunch of muscle, which can then burn off the fat that I've accumulated over the past fifteen years. I'm really out of shape, but I've run almost every day of the new year. I had a bit of a skid for a few days, again coinciding with the time they called me into work at 3:00 a.m., but this morning I got back on track and ran for a half an hour again. I'll be back at it tomorrow. Now I just need to get going on the weight lifting as well.
I have more goals to work on this year as well, and I am having a varying degree of success with each of them. It seems like I am in more need of improvement now than I have ever been in my life. I feel like the Ghost of Christmas Present is standing behind me telling me that if these shadows remain unchanged, there will be an empty seat next year. I'm not one who likes to work on things. I much prefer to sit back on the couch and let the river of life take me where it will. But that can often land you somewhere awfully crappy. So, this year I'm going to do my best to change some things. If it doesn't work out, well, at least I'll have a whole lot of guilt.