My 2011 New Year's resolution was that next New Year I'd actually get around to making a real New Year resolution.
Only I am not sure I'm going to be able to keep my resolution. Maybe I'll try this one again in 2011...
Which sort of brings up two issues in my own writing: Challenge and procrastination. My little writer's group like to set challenges. It stirs us up, moves out of the comfort zone and sometimes makes us grow. We try to pick on aspects that we think the others need to work on: I've been challenged to write a bit of dialogue with no colloquialisms, no accents. I'm mildly amused by this because I am a fairly moderate user of regional accents (although I do use them often) but obviously what I am doing, works well enough to convince my little group that I am an incorrigable ‘accenter'. Well. I'm not. What I've learned to do - and work quite hard at is using a few key words and expressions to ‘tag' the speech of different characters. It makes for easier reading, than a real and faithful rendition. And um, more convincing too. I've read - or tried to read books where the author has faithfully transcribed the sounds of Welsh-spoken or Scots-spoken English... and duh, it's hard work and, inevitably because accents are SO specific and regional unless you're writing one know and live in you'll wind up using a West Coast expression in your East Coast accent... or North Usk mixed with South Usk. There is a lot too, in the way of speaking. Queenslanders I have noticed end their sentences in questions, hey? Rather like Canadians, eh?
Anyway I talked about accents merely to put off talking about procrastination. I'd be good at procrastination, if only I could get around to it. Seriously, I am one of the world's worst. Never put off until tomorrow something that can be put off to the next day, I say.
Which doesn't work terribly well for writing (or even submitting). So I've had to try to deal with it. Straight head-to-head doesn't work for me: distraction and I suspect fear of failure get to me -- this from a guy who loves his work, with I think about 20 finished books, and a lot of shorter fiction (so if it worries you now, it's not going away). I've found a number of things that do get me there. 1) Looming deadlines. 2)Not wanting to let other people down. 3)taking it small bite by small bite (a book is VAST project 200 words is not... and if you discipline yourself into doing those 200 words and not a word less... it grows as often as not). 4)Daily goals. I'm on a minimum 1500 at the moment. I was doing a minimum 2K but that was just every second day fail. 5) peer competition. I have a little sublist of pros. We compare daily. 6)Make writing a displacement activity for something else you're trying to put off. That works for me!
So what works for you? And have you noticed any speech mannerisms that ‘tag' specific groups of English speakers?