Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I feel like this at the beginning of every new year... a combination of disbelief that it's a new year already, a twinge of nostalgia for days gone by, and excitement and hope for the blank slate of the upcoming year!

I am a huge believer in the power of setting goals, and each new year I take time to review how far I've come in the past year, and to set new goals for the upcoming year.

Here are a few of my milestones in 2007:
* I studied abroad for a month this summer at Cambridge University, and was one of four USC students selected to study Creative Writing in England this spring at the University of East Anglia.
* I was promoted to Coordinator of the Young Writers Program at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
* I broke into a few new markets, including the Cup of Comfort series, The Daily Trojan USC student newspaper, and 805 magazine, and took on a new column each month for Listen magazine.
* I was honored as a Jim Murray Scholar for excellence in collegiate journalism.

And here are few of my goals for 2008:
* Find the right agent for my novel manuscript.
* Write at least one page a day, every single day.
* Start a literary journal at USC.
* Write and produce a play to raise money for my "Write On!" nonprofit endeavors.

I also have a goal of being more consistent and better about making entries in this blog ... sometimes I get so caught up in school and writing and busy with extracurricular commitments that I forget to take the time to blog about my experiences! But I really enjoy interacting with others this way and I am definitely going to try to be more proactive about taking five minutes every other day to jot down some of my thoughts.

What are your goals for 2008? I'd love to hear them. Also, while I know a new year is a time of optimism and hope, it can also be overwhelming. Remember to break your goals up into smaller, more manageable parts -- just taking small steps towards your goals each day really adds up. For example, I tell students who want to be writers to make a pact with themselves to write ten minutes -- that's all they need to do, just ten minutes at least -- each and every day. Believe me, the pages will add up more quickly than you could imagine! As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. I'd love to hear progress on your goals throughout the year -- and, if I can ever be of any help, either in the writing field or simply by offering some words of encouragement and support, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Here's to a masterpiece of a 2008!! :)


GoalSAH said...

Hey Dallas, I'm a fellow student/writer. I've been thinking about making a blog for a while now, so I searched for other young writers' blogs and came across yours.

You seem to be very accomplished in your writing and you have a mature attitude about it. I especially like the outreach you've done with kids and just thinking about it is making me wish I had done something similar.

Anyways, as you can see, I did end up creating a blog. Feel free to visit it and leave any advice or comments you may have. I've had some pretty bad writer's block this month so I'll use all the help I can get!

Dallas Woodburn said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my blog and comment on it ... your kind words made my day! I've found that it is such a big step to start calling yourself a writer and thinking of "writer" as part of your identity, and a blog has been a great avenue for me to do that. I'm really happy to hear you've started one as well ... I'm going to check it out right now!

As far as writer's block goes, I know what you're going through -- I think every writer does! Some things that help for me are to set the story aside for a few days and try to get a more objective view on it. Is there some reason you are having trouble moving forward? Sometimes there is something earlier in the story that is blocking you now. Or sometimes a tense or viewpoint shift is the magic button. For example, one time I started writing a story in third person and got stuck part-way through -- it just felt so forced and such an effort -- but then I switched to first person and the story suddenly came much easier. Another thing that helps me is to write in freehand in a notebook -- I usually write on the computer, but something about writing with pen and paper can make me feel more creative and more in touch with my characters and the story.

Hope that helps some. Thanks again for getting in touch, and keep me posted on everything!

Your writing buddy,