We all have to start somewhere. Knowledge, skills and success are hard earned by doing. When it comes to my creative writing I still feel like a beginner. I keep at it though, relentlessly trying and pursing the confidence and comfort I enjoy when I’m working with glass.
I’m not new to the writing scene. I’ve been publishing a glass related newsletter since 1986 and writing how-to articles for magazines since 1999. I love to share artsy news and describe new glass handling techniques. And so, writing about art comes easily to me.
There’s a very clear intent when I write non-fiction about art. I strive to educate, inspire and motivate artists to grow and develop their talent. Through my trial and error, I hope to give them confidence to try new things.
When it comes to fiction, my intent is entertainment. A great writer hooks you at the beginning of the story. Then they take you by the neck on a wild ride through an imaginary world that exists only in their head. It’s an amazing gift I hope to cultivate and eventually thrill readers with.
You have to risk it all and put yourself out there.
In my experience, the best way to become proficient at something new, is to study the craft and then practice what you’ve learned. Another way to grow artistically is to put yourself and your work out there for people to see and experience your unique spin on your invented reality.
It’s not easy to expose myself and share how I struggle to understand and fine tune my fiction writing process. But if I just keep spinning my wheels here in the sand pit, and sit on everything I write until it’s perfect, I’ll never get any traction.
I started a writing journal to free my cluttered mind of all the noise that slowed down my creativity. I write in my journal without a filter or editor. This is where I’m honest with myself. It’s not all rainbows, butterflies and lollypops, but I hope you find my journey of discovery interesting and maybe even enlightening. Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences honing your craft. Maybe you’ll recognize some of my triumphs mirror your own. Perhaps you can relate to the crippling effects I struggled to overcome by not surrendering to my fears. If nothing else, you’ll see that I have gained momentum and some small measure of confidence that I hope inspires you to keep going and face your challenges.
My Writing Journal
How to Write a Book in a Month
NaNoWriMo fans unite!
No, I’m not speaking some bizarre foreign language or writing in tongues. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a worldwide writing event that takes place every November. During the thirty days of the month, participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of fiction, an average of 1,667 words per day. This annual self-guided, self-inspired writing competition has no winners and no prizes. The reward is writing the first draft of a book in one month.
The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 writers. Over the years, the number of participants steadily increased. In 2017, 402,142 participants, including 95,912 students and educators participated in the event. Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.
This sounds crazy, right? I’ve been working on a few books for years. Years! Something always gets in my way. Mostly it’s me. I tried participating in NaNoWriMo last year and mildly thought about doing it the year before, but I failed. I never got off the ground.
What’s different this year? It’s my birthday month and I listened to Scorpio’s reading on YouTube. The medium said that Scorpio’s always take care of everyone else. And this month, we should be selfish and take care of ourselves. I took that to mean I should commit to writing my book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but life got in the way.
This year I didn’t tell anyone I was going to try again. And this time I’m going to follow my own rules. Which are to work on my current, in progress novel and to write words on this book every day. I was afraid I’d screw up again, so I kept it a secret.
On day 1 I learned to use my time wisely. I didn’t have the luxury to wait for inspiration or ideas. But instead, went to where the ideas were and wrote those scenes no matter where that content might fall in the book. I wrote 500 plus words. It wasn’t 1,700 but it was forward progress and more words than I had the day before.
On day 2 I learned to ignore my inner critic and just lay down words without prejudice. I let the ideas flow and ran with wild abandonment. It was a real challenge to relax my rigid need for perfection and let the crappy sentences fly. I wrote another 500 plus words.
On day 3 I learned to keep all of my words even if the story would be tighter and possibly stronger with less words. I was, in affect padding my word count. For years, I’ve read advice from pros who frequently recommend making your work succinct. A well-known phrase is, kill all your darlings. But that advise doesn’t apply this month. I’m keeping all of my darlings.
This morning I stayed in bed till 3:00pm and wrote 1,250 words! Of course, I can’t do that all month.
After three successful days I told my family about my writing goal for November. They understand the importance of this to me and are supporting my efforts by respecting my writing time.
On day 4 I didn’t want to write. I’d cleaned the house, did laundry and other routine maintenance around the house. By 5:00pm I didn’t want to tax my brain. Watching a mindless TV show appealed to me, and I had no new ideas for the next chapter. But I forced my self to open the document and just write anything. Primarily because I didn’t want to face myself the next morning without an increased wordcount. I can be brutally hard on myself. Plus, if I missed one day, would it be easier to skip a second or a third day. So, I wrote.
I learned that I can pump out 500 plus words of slop without a formal plan. Amazing! And the slop wasn’t really all that bad. There were some terrific gems mixed in with the rubble.
More to come.
I hope you enjoyed this behind closed doors look into the writing life.
All the best,