#NANOWRIMO2016

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I’m participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month! This year, I won’t be sixteen days late, so that’s pretty exciting. I will get thirty days of writing bliss… or hell, depending on your perspective. I may be crying tears of distress or tears of joy, but either way, by the end of the month, I’ll (hopefully) have a completed novel. It’ll be a very rough draft, but at least it will be a first draft. Having something to work with, versus not having anything, is always preferable! 

As the month goes on, I’ll update with progress reports, if I have the time. As far as I’m concerned, November is serious go-month for writing, so all other projects (other than the necessary university and work, etc) will not be designated as priority.

If you’re interested in writing a novel and were not previously aware of National Novel Writing Month, go to nanowrimo.org and check it out! And if you’re nervous, check this article out. Or, if you need advice, read this one. Better yet, read both to receive a great mix of sympathy, encouragement, and advice. Plus, as an added perk, they’re both written by the lovely and awesome Stephanie Perkins. (If you haven’t read Anna, Lola, or Isla, GO DO IT; in December, of course.)

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

Creativity (noun)

Creativity (n): the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Recently, I have been listening to Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear on audiobook. Because of this, I’ve been considering “the cult of artistic martyrdom.” I believe that with this phrase, Gilbert perfectly summarizes this phenomenon of how current culture views artists and their craft. Seemingly, all artist must suffer so that they may create good art. I, along with Gilbert, think this is neither an accurate nor healthy outlook to have on the creative life, especially since I want so desperately to live one.

But what does the creative life look like?

I believe that it is not any one thing, because it is by nature creative. This life looks different from person to person. Except for this fact: each and every creative person is doing what they love.

And Gilbert goes one step further to suggest that the creative person’s work loves them as much as they love it. And I love that thought.

Gilbert supports her theory with this reasoning:

“I have chosen to believe that a desire to be creative was encoded into my DNA for reasons I will never know, and that creativity will not go away from me unless I forcibly kick it away or poison it dead. … If destiny didn’t want me to be a writer, I figure, then it shouldn’t have made me one.

My DNA is unalterably encoded so that I must write and read voraciously. If I am not doing either, then I am not entirely happy. Now, I’m not saying that my happiness depends solely on these activities. Rather, I am saying that I am not absolutely myself if I do not read or write for at least a few minutes every day. If I stop either of these activities, I can feel the difference in my daily disposition.

Gilbert terms this daily choice to be a creative individual as “stubborn gladness.” No matter what comes – the good, the bad, and the ugly – she chooses to move forward with stubborn gladness. Which is to say, no matter what, Liz Gilbert is thankful to do what she loves.

I find that to be inspiring. I too want to write daily with stubborn gladness, come what may. I may never write a bestselling novel. I may never even be a published author. But I shall always be a creative individual who loves to write.

So let me end with the words that inspired me, with hopes that they’ll inspire you too.

“I don’t ever choose to believe that I’ve been completely abandoned in the creative wilderness or that there’s reason for me to panic about my writing. I choose to trust that inspiration is always near by, the whole time I’m working, trying its damnedest to impart assistance. It’s just that inspiration comes from another world, you see, and it speaks a language entirely unlike my own, so sometimes we have trouble understanding each other. But inspiration is still sitting right there beside me and it is trying, inspiration is trying, to send me message in every form it can.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

Dealing with Writer’s Block

Block (n): an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something.

What happens when you’re stuck with writer’s block? If you spend any time reading or listening to published authors give advice to aspiring authors, then you’ve encountered the phrase “just keep writing,” which to me translates to “every author should write even when they don’t feel like it.”

Even though I’ve repeatedly heard this advice, I have never understood it. It didn’t make sense to me that you should push on when you didn’t have anything to write. I have heard it compared to exercising a muscle in this way: If you don’t exercise your writing muscles, then they gradually decrease in strength. As a former athlete, the muscle analogy made sense to me. Sadly, I only understood it in the sport sense. I still did not understand it in the writing sense of the advice.

In my head, it didn’t compute that forcing yourself to put words on a page was going to help develop your style or help complete a project. It didn’t make sense to me simply because I could never get anywhere using that method. Whenever I struggled and tried to force myself to write, I stayed mired in my funk and couldn’t get much (if anything) onto the page.

This post is an example. I started attempting to write something last week… But I didn’t have an idea, and since I didn’t have an idea, I spent way too much time staring at my computer, wishing I had something to say.

Finally, I had the small thought to write about writer’s block, since I was struggling so much.  And that’s how this post came into being. I’ve spent a long time on it. I wasn’t sure how to explain my thoughts, but I decided to “exercise my muscles” and try anyways.

During this process, I thought about a line I read in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and I finally understood why “just writing” actually made a little bit of sense.

“This wasn’t good, but it was something. Cath could always change it later. That was the beauty of stacking up words. They became cheaper the more you had of them. It would feel good to come back and cut this part out when she had worked her way to something new.

For me, writing will always be a struggle. Sometimes even when I have an idea, I can’t get my thoughts to translate to something I can write down. Sometimes my mind just has a block.

However, I’m beginning to understand that I can get around the block simply by writing something, even if it’s insignificant, because I can eventually work my way to something new. The more I write, the better I will become. Writing may never get truly easier, but I can become a better scribbler.

Maybe what I’m getting at here is that we have to struggle with something at one point or another. Sometimes, all we need to do is make an attempt. It won’t necessarily get easier, but we can become better humans in the meantime.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

space (noun)

Space (n): the freedom and scope to live, think, and develop in a way that suits one.

When I looked up the various definitions for the word space, I was pleasantly surprised to find the definition above. I wasn’t expecting to find such a perfect description for my thoughts in a dictionary.

I’ve been struggling lately (and by lately I mean for months on end) to find physical space and headspace where I am so totally at ease that I can relax and create. It’s like I have a mental wall to protect myself from outside forces, which sadly also smothers my imagination. Seemingly, my mental defenses are on high alert and they will not let me vacate the safety bunker until the “all clear” signal has sounded.

For example, today I did everything I could to keep busy, so I could prevent my own self from sitting down and writing this post. I listened to my audio book, drank my coffee (slowly), paid bills, and checked on the laundry at least three times (knowing full well the clothes weren’t dry yet).

Even as I sit at my desk typing these words, I am fidgeting and my thoughts are telling me that this is terrible and I should just stop now before I end up posting this and then crying from embarrassment.

Creating is hard. Developing and growing a personal, unique voice is not safe. Critique and ridicule are terrifying but inevitable if the final product is placed where other humans can consume it.

As you’re reading these words, I am obsessively thinking about them and about your interpretation of them, hoping your reaction is positive.

You see, I am made to write, and my deepest wish is to write in a way that reaches others on a personal, positive level. I cannot do that if my readers don’t like what I write, so I struggle with the fear that I won’t be good enough. My mind repeats my fears internally in a self-destructive cycle.

That is why I am struggling with headspace. I want space to think and develop my writing voice. I cannot do this without turning off the depressive and critical thoughts.

Since my thoughts follow me wherever I go, then by default no space feels safe either. My internal criticisms seem to leak out and expand into whatever space I am filling at the time.

I am tired of it. I am tired of being scared of my biggest dreams and greatest calling. I am tired of being afraid of my own creative mind. I am tired of being at war with my own self – wanting so desperately to write, but being so terribly afraid of what I will create and how it will be received.

So, today I’m done. I am done letting my fear rule my life. Today is the day I start letting go. It will take time, but I am determined to make it happen. It may take months or years, but I vow now to be in this for the long haul.

I vow to fight my own demons.

I vow to share my creations – to let them, instead of the fear, inhabit the space in and around me.

In the future, it is my vow to write more and worry less.

And you, dear reader, are my witness to this vow.

And maybe, hopefully, you can make a vow of your own. I know I’m not the only one plagued by my own fears. Maybe it’s time you thought about what you’re afraid of doing. I’m not encouraging any rash decisions, but I am encouraging you to get to know your own mind and figure out how it thinks.

When the time comes, I encourage you to start fighting your own fears.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

#NaNoWriMo2015

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I’m officially participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month! Unfortunately, I am sixteen days late to the party, but I’m still going to work on a novel. I just joined a few minutes ago, so my word count is sitting at zero for now; however, as soon as I’m done here, I consider it time to buckle down and see how these next two weeks go. If I can, I will post little updates so you can follow my progress.

If you’re interested in writing a novel and are not aware of NaNoWriMo, go to nanowrimo.org and check it out! I understand that you may not want to jump in late like I am, but get it on your radar for participation next year.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.