A new journal means a new beginning, pristine clean paper, ready.
This is a new journal my daughter gave me today; she is the kindest soul and she knows I love journals ❤️ Ever since I was young I’ve had a compulsive need to scribble down plans, poetry, moods, stories, and anything else that comes to mind. Most of this stuff gets tucked away and lost, never to be seen. My silly haikus are a way for me to creatively express a fleeting feeling or thought, and this is my concerted effort to share more.
This year I’m planning to do things a bit differently than I have in the past for NaNoWriMo. Instead of spending so much time carefully planning each chapter and obsessing over everything I write, I’m going to be a little more experimental (kind of like I’m trying to do with this blog on a general level), and let the words just flow, because it can always be edited later. If I don’t do this, I may never finish a novel!
I say this because today I was feeling down about those days in years past where I would sit in front of the computer for an hour or so and eke out only a few words. One sad November day I only had two words (kind of like yesterday), true story! I don’t want days like that this year, instead I want to just free myself to write without being so self-conscious.
Today I earned my first NaNo 2017 badge and officially “started” my novel by putting some basic 2017 information into the NaNo site.
“NaNoWriMo” stands for “National November Writing Month,” and it’s a call to authors to set time aside for one month to write a novel. The actual goal is to write 50,000 words in a month, which is about the average novel size. That means that writers are urged to produce 1,667 words a day to meet that goal.
It isn’t for everybody, but it’s a great tool for someone like me who enjoys the “event” feel of it, and admittedly, I would have never found the time to write as much as I did in years past without it. Plus, they have a very active forum on their site, local writing groups to participate in, and fun little badges for each milestone you reach along the way. Once I decided that I was going to participate in the event, I found that during the mornings and evenings that I was completely wrapped up in my story, it opened up a joy for writing that I hadn’t known before.
At times it is incredibly difficult for me to crank out any number of words, but that forces me to look for new ways to overcome writer’s block, whereas I might otherwise just set my writing aside. And it has been a great source of inspiration for thousands of people, including some best-selling authors whose books were born in NaNoWriMo, the most well-known being Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
There are several things that I have been doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo 2017. For one, starting this blog was a way for me to get back into writing, since I haven’t done much at all lately. The rest of my November preparations will revolve around a novel that I had started a couple of years ago but hadn’t finished. It is sitting at 43,999 words right now, and I’m currently editing it, so anything that I add to that will go towards my 2017 word count. I printed out a copy so that I could re-read it on paper and write notes in the margins. So far I have discovered a major plot flaw that needs fixing and I’m finding areas that need help, like the dialogue – not my strong point! Also, the entire last chapter that I wrote added too much story to it, so I’m going to remove it and take a different spin on it. The plan is to have it reread and well-edited so that I will be completely ready to move forward with it when November 1st rolls around.
Today Kazuo Ishiguro, most famous for his novel The Remains of the Day, won the 2017 Nobel Laureate in Literature. As a writer who has maintained an elegant and highly refined writing style while crossing various fiction genres, including fantasy, drama, and touching on science fiction in Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro has proven to be an icon of his time.
As an amateur writer who took creative writing class eons ago and remembers the adage “write about what you know,” I was fascinated to read that in Ishiguro’s first novel, A Pale View of the Hills, he chose to write about unknown subject matter and it proved to be very successful for him in terms of creative energy. Today’s Slate article on the writer commented on this subject:
When Ishiguro began his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, he’d planned to make it about a young underclass Cornish mother, the sort of person he met while working a social service job with the homeless in West London. (He also did a pre-collegiate stint as a grouse beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral Estate in Scotland.) The writing only took wing when he reconceived his narrator as someone less familiar to him: a Japanese housewife. In the writing, he told the Paris Review, “I discovered that my imagination came alive when I moved away from the immediate world around me.” He abandoned the shopworn writing-program mandate to write what you know.
I’m always looking for new writing exercises and the idea of finding some uncharted territory, or a completely foreign type of character, to write about really struck me as a great way to overcome writer’s block.
In an interview with the Swedish Academy, Ishiguro also commented on the award coming a year after Bob Dylan’s last year, saying “It’s great to come one year after Bob Dylan, who was my hero since the age of 13. He’s probably my biggest hero, I do a very good Bob Dylan impersonation, but I won’t do it for you right now.”