Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nanowrimo 2015: Halfway Point

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Today is November 15 and marks the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month! I am so proud of myself because I have been writing everyday. I entered in my word count for today bringing me to a grand total of 34,259 words over 15 days. This is well over my target word count for this day, which is 25,000 words, exactly half of the 50,000 word total that I am striving toward.

This challenge has been difficult, but also extremely fun as I push myself and my creative ideas. The other huge part of this challenge is creating good writing habits for myself. Granted, I won't be able to let writing take priority over everything else for an extended period of time. Nonetheless, I have found some creative ways to use my time so that I have more time available to write.

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One of my biggest accomplishments is being able to write around others, especially my loving, well meaning six year old little girl. I have always wanted complete quiet and stillness when I write and it is sheer determination and lots of practice to be able to write in a room with other people. I like being able to go right back to my thoughts after interruptions. Of course, there are times when I prefer quiet, but it is nice to be able to write out in the open instead of always trying to hide. It is a skill that I taught myself for reading years ago that has made me more happy overall; it's nice to be able to write in this manner too.

That is all for now, just a moment to check in. I am glad I am participating in the challenge. I like pushing myself creatively and I'm finally feeling more confident about calling myself a writer. So that in itself is a victory!

My #Nanowrimo2015 update:
Day 15
34,259 Words Written

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Your Elusive Creative Genius"

It is week 2 of Nanowrimo and this is the key time in the challenge of writing a novel in a month. Everything I've heard and read said to be careful this week and just keep writing, no matter how much you want to give up.

I've been so excited about this project and my decision to really do it, to put in the work and be a writer. Because of that passion, I haven't even considered giving up, but I have been dealing with the naysayers of this craft.

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I talked to my incredibly supportive husband about my doubts in a career of writing, mostly my crippling fear of failing or producing nothing of worth or value. He asked who doubted me. That made me stop for a moment. Everyone I talk to are extremely supportive about my decision to write. Some even go so far as to check in with me about how my Nanowrimo challenge is going this month and about my novel in general.

It took me a few minutes to realize that the only naysayer in the situation was myself and possibly society as a whole for its view of artists, writers and the creative lifestyle in general. Stephen said he couldn't really be mad a me for doubting myself and I had to concur. I realized that I would have to change my own way of thinking...have I even mentioned how impossibly difficult that is to do?

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As luck, or perhaps the great cosmic influence, would have it, I found my answer in a seemingly inconsequential decision to watch a TED talk about "Your Elusive Creative Genius" by Elizabeth Gilbert author of New York Times Bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

In her speech, she talks of this anomaly the Greek and Roman creative minds had attached to their talent. They had what the Greeks called a daemon, a being that contained the same nature as both god and mortal. In Roman culture the word for daemon was "genius."  The genius provided a distance between an artist's art and his or her ego. For example, if a creation failed, it meant his genius hadn't stimulated him enough. On the other hand, if a creation took off to become immortal art, then the artist couldn't take full credit because his or her genius had bolstered him. However, how do you keep creating art or ideas when you know that your best idea may be behind you? With a daemon, at least you still had a sort of collaboration with this being of inspiration that kept you grounded and continuing to work and create for yourself and to share with others. But what would happened if that daemon stopped showing up as well?

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As the Age of Reason began to emerge out of the Renaissance, the idea of having a genius was lost and a man or woman was determined to be a genius, which put enormous amounts of pressure on a one fragile human soul. For many that was too much to take; there have been countless cases of artists of every medium to become insane and even take their own lives. Society, over hundreds of years, has thrust the idea that the arts and a creative lifestyle is an insane, irrational crusade. 

Gilbert's TED Talk is incredibly interesting and I would encourage you to watch it in its entirety on YouTube :
"Your Elusive Creative Genius" 
by Elizabeth Gilbert 

So what now? My passion has always been writing, reading, collecting quotations, and having an appreciation for all forms of art. However, society tells me that if I pursue this course I will end up irrational, poor and broken. That's not something very nice to fall asleep to at night. However, neither is the grind that comes from working a job that seeps the joy from my soul. Talk about a rock and a hard place...

This is the point where I have to make a decision about my life. Am I going to conform to society's interpretation of the arts? Or am I going to be brave and step out into the unknown to live a creative life full of passion and joy. It won't erase the heartache or the bad days, but those irrational, emotional pieces of art are truly valuable to society and the human psyche as a whole.

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I've never wanted to be a genius. I've never wanted the pressure to make something remarkable, that is simply too much to bear. However, I want to create something that means something to someone. I want to put my soul into my work and throw it out into the void of human interpretation so that someone, somewhere will feel inspired and loved and understand themselves a little better.

I write for myself, for my own soul. I have written these words so many times now that it almost seems redundant. Writing is how I understand the universe. When I go long periods of time without writing I get anxious, insecure and irritable. I don't really understand it, but writing is a permanent part of my psychological makeup, it is an irreversible part of who I am. When I am true to myself, when I write and share ideas and emotions, I feel better, I feel whole.

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So now I write. I'm writing my novel to try and share a feeling that means a lot to me right now. I want to share the power of love that stands the test of time. Despite societal association with writers and despite my own self doubts, I'm going to show up everyday and work hard on my craft. I want to do it, I want to create this novel and eventually send it out into the world to share something that I believe in.

Yes, that is scary, and if I begin to start talking to my genius for inspiration and revelation, at least you'll know that I'm actually doing it to stay sane and not going crazy...yet.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nanowrimo 2015: Week 1 Review

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I am pausing from writing my novel because I really want to post at least some updates about Nanowrimo this year. This project has helped me in so many ways. It is not easy, but I am learning more about writing, about myself and about where I want to go from here.

Granted, I'm halfway through the second week as I look back on week one. Part of this is simply time, there's never enough of it. I always try to wait until after I've done my word log for the day to blog, but I've found this doesn't ever work, for two reasons. The first reason is that I am in a groove with my story and I won't stop until I am dragged away kicking and screaming from my keyboard. The second reason (what happens the other half of the time) is that I am grinding words, just trying to get something, anything written for the day. I've had plenty of both of these days, but either way, I never have any energy or inspiration to blog. Today, I'm making it a priority.

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Week One of Nanowrimo was fun. I'd been anticipating the event for months now and I was so excited to finally start putting my fingers to the keyboard and write. I had lots of thoughts and plans about my story so that first week was a simple mind dump. I wrote all of the most dramatic scenes from my novel that I had already outlined. As I wrote, some things changed, but most of it stayed within the confines of my outline so I had lots to get down. I really enjoyed experiencing all the highs and lows of my character's lives and begin to really get to know them.

This week's biggest tribulation was what Stephen defined as carpel tunnel syndrome. This surprised me, a lot, but the more I read, the more it made sense. I had pain in my fingers all the way up through my forearm. I experienced cramps in my hands and muscle weakness. At one point I could barely pick anything up. It hurt a lot. By the end of the week, my hands and arms were screaming (it didn't help that I had a couple days of heavy lifting and tedious work using my hand muscles at work.)

I started resting more and stretching my hands and they finally started to calm down a little. Even now they still hurt some, but it's that pain that almost feels good, like I've been productive. It feels like I've been working out and my muscles are getting stronger, it just takes time for the soreness to go away.

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As I entered into week two, another obstacle whole family got sick. Zoey has been out of school for a couple of days this week with a head cold, which I then got and so did my husband. It makes writing hard because I'm trying to write around a sick kid who is more needy than normal and home during my usual writing blocks. In addition to the physical distractions, I have been really tired and I'm trying to think creatively through the cloud of a head cold, which makes making sense a bit difficult.

Even with all of those challenges, I'm still really excited about my novel and Nanowrimo. By sheer determination, I have managed to write 27,841 in the first eleven days of Nanowrimo, that is over 8,000 more words than my target goal for the same number of days. In other words, I am over halfway through the challenge 3 days before the halfway point. That is a good, productive feeling.

I'm going to end on that feeling. That's a good place to publish my blog and go back to writing my novel.

My #Nanowrimo2015 update:
(as of yesterday) Day 11
27,841 Words Written

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 5: Nanowrimo 2015 (Writer's Brain)

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So I'm writing this novel right now about characters who grow up together. The idea is that there are people who know you, the very best and the very worst of you, and still choose you every time, every year, even everyday. It is a powerful feeling, one that I am feeling right now.

I have a best friend I have known since I was four years old and we are still best friends, we always will be. I just talked to her today actually, probably why this, whatever this is, is on my mind.

Don't you hate it when you have this intense feeling that you can't even name? I have that today. I think, in this case at least, it is known as writer's high. But honestly, I am just having trouble keeping my fantasy world apart from my real world. I feel like it is all bleeding over into each other. My real world is coming out in my novel and my characters are showing up in the people I know and the events I experience, in what I think to be the real world.

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I also had this strange realization that not as much has changed over time as I think it has. I believe it is instead I who have changed. I've become more myself and more willing to put myself out there.

That is evident from my current commitment to write a novel. Also, in publishing half-baked ideas online. I usually wait until I have a thought flushed out some. However, that isn't really happening this month.

I've sent my "inner editor" on vacation (thanks to advice from Chris Baty, Nanowrimo founder). I hope she's having fun wherever she is. I like to think she's in the Bahamas maybe, somewhere warm where she can read on the beach.

I must admit, I'm feeling slightly vulnerable with her gone. However, it was necessary to be able to write the sheer volume of words I am aiming for this month. It is impossible to be able to get through a story that fast while constantly checking for grammar and story plot holes. I know my story has plot holes, but it isn't finished yet. My blog, on the other hand, every post is published for all to see and read.

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Here's the rub...I still want to post and write on my blog because I love the connection I have with this medium of creativity.

So I'm just throwing ideas out there and seeing what sticks and maybe something good will come back. I'm not promising to make sense at any point in this next month, but I still like to share ideas.

If anyone out there is doing Nanowrimo this year, how are you holding up so far?

My #Nanowrimo2015 update:
Day 5
14,072 Words Written

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Happy Nanowrimo 2015

A Brief Message from Sunday, November 1, 2015:
Today is the day! My coffee is warm, my laptop is charged and I am ready to write. This year I have gotten serious about being a writer and have been working really hard lately on my novel. Now I am committing to getting the first draft completed by the end of the month by participating in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). It is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

It is now day 3 of Nanowrimo and this is the first time I've really taken the time to stop and write, even briefly, on my blog. I am focused on my novel this month so I'm not sure how much other writing I will complete, but I want to at least update when possible.

After 3 days of writing (and today isn't over with yet), I have written just under 10,000 words. I am very proud of myself. Even if it is only the beginning, I am starting strong. I am really excited about my novel and the direction my characters are going. The most important thing for me this month is to just keep writing, no matter what. So that's what I'm doing.

Now that's what I'm off to do. I know it's short and sweet today, but my novel calls!