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How To Write A Novel In 30 Days – 5

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    WRITER’S BLOCK

A writer’s eye looks at things in a different way than a layperson’s would. Hence her head is full of ideas and it would take lifetimes to actually use them all in the writing. But sometimes, this faucet seems to be tightly closed. And try as they might, the writer is not able to wrench out a single word. This situation is fondly called, Writer’s Block. But this need not be a permanent state of being.

(If you are a writing your first novel, the first draft would mostly flow out. As is popularly said, everyone has atleast one story within them. Make the most of this beginner’s luck).

 WHY THE BLOCK 

The most common reason for a block is not knowing enough about the subject you’re writing on. If it is fiction, then perhaps you are not completely clued in to your characters, their likes and dislikes and their propensities. Going deeper into their psyche could give you enough matter to break any blocks in your mind about them.

Yet another reason for the Block is not believing that you have a story to tell, especially when you read the books written by the writers whose writings you idolise.

But the fact is that if you felt within you a spark (to write a novel)that wanted to burn bright then that is a sure sign that your story is worth writing.

Sometimes the writer gets into the rut of misconception that every word that flows out of his pen into the page must be brilliant and final.  Every writer knows that words have to be written and then re-written a number of times before they flow and you know you’ve got the best words that will work for you story. This is VERY HARD WORK. So avoid the self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviour which prevent you from writing, and blaming ‘Writer’s Block’ for it.

Stop thinking about what the world will think of your story, whether they will like it or not, whether they will approve of it or not, whether they will still respect you after you write your story or not (hey, do you really need such people in your life?).

 BREAK THE BLOCK

Just write the words that excite you, that want to be written by you.

Write like no-one is going to be reading what you have written.

 FREE THE WRITING

A practical way out of the Block is by free writing. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write whatever comes to mind about a subject of your choice, perhaps the character who’s causing you distress or even your story. Write uninhibitedly and soon you might find gems that could give you a breakthrough.

 What are the methods you use to get over Writers Block?

 (Read How To Write A Novel In 30 Days – 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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How To Write A Novel In 30 Days – 4

DO YOU HAVE A WRITING BUDDY?

“Anything you do deeply is very lonely. There are many Zen students here, but the ones that are going deep are very lonely.”

“Are you lonely?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he answered. “But I do not let it toss me away. It is just loneliness.”

~ Wild Mind, Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. The visualization and the capturing of the inspirations and the impressions, all need to be done in quietude. But many times, we need a certain push that only another writer can understand and provide.

It is a proven fact that accountability can make the difference between the success and failure of a venture. Going on a diet? Going to take 10,000 steps daily? Going to write daily?

Accountability will make you feel like taking action even when you’d rather just watch television or surf the net.

These are buddies. Gym buddies, diet buddies, walking buddies, writing buddies.

Identify one such friend, or two. Whose writing strengths match yours. Then, fix up the time and amount of writing you will do.

It could be timed writing. Or even timed editing. Buddies remind you of your writing goals when you forget them. And they goad you to follow up on your promises you made to yourself and to others. They read what you’ve written. They tell you what is working and what isn’t. When they give a patient hearing to your ideas, the vision becomes clearer and the story becomes stronger. We can never be objective about our own writing. Our buddies point out to us our weaknesses, whether it a skewed POV or a rambling text or even a sequence of plot events which is implausible.

In the earlier days of publishing, editors at the publishing houses took on the role of writing buddy, in a way. Through encouragement and regular but constant goading, they ensured the writers completed writing their books. In fact, well-known Canadian author, Mark Anthony Jarman, in a writing workshop by Avid Learning held at the Kalaghoda Art Festival, revealed it was thanks to this unceasing badgering by his editor that he was able to complete writing most of his books.

Mark Anthony Jarman

Writing buddies are invaluable. If you don’t have one, you need to get one ASAP.

But remember, worthwhile relationships are never one-sided.

Will you be a great writing buddy, too?

Read How To Write A Novel During NaNoWriMo – 1, 2, and 3.

 

How To Write A Novel in 30 Days – 3

Like I promised last week, here I am with some light to throw on PHYSICAL CREATIVITIES.

Ask hundred people the definition of creativity, almost eighty would say it is about “thinking out of the box”.

All this while one would have thought that this box referred to must be some hypothetical box, which one had to jump out of if one had a wish to be creative.

But what would happen if you were actually put inside a life-sized box? A sealed box. Bet you’d try all the creativity at your disposal to get out of that box. Besides of course, hammering on the sides with your fists, hoping SOMEBODY would hear you.

Jokes aside, according to research done, those outside the physical box scored more points on creativity, than those inside it.

Here are some ways in which physical actions can jog your creativity into higher gear:

  • Write standing up:
    Ernest Hemingway did it. So did Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf. Have you tried it?
  • Write with your non-dominant hand:
    The discomfort and unusualness of using the non-dominant hand opens up untraveled pathways in the brain, giving you a piece of writing that might either be utterly worthless or a super-precious gem. At least it allows you to bypass your oft-used clichéd words, phrases and ideas.
  • Lie down under the stars:
    On a dark, starry night, go to a quiet, open space (preferably a garden) and even if you don’t lie down, atleast throw back your head and savour the unending vastness of the black night interspersed with the sparkling stars. You’ll forget all your worries and stress when you realize how microscopial they are in the face of the gorgeous beauty of the Universe. This letting go ( of control/worry/fear) is what will allow your creativity to manifest – not just in writing, but in every aspect of life.

  • Go for a walk, but CARRY a voice recorder:
    No, not that sort of a walk where you burn 300 calories per mile (or whatever the exact figures are). More like an amble. An aimless walk, gentle steps, your mind travelling all over the world, especially into the world of the stories you’ve written or even plan to write. Stopping to stare at a particularly intriguing flower, or a bush that sprouts fragrant flowers only at dusk. All the while, talking into the recorder. Allowing the words to come to you instead of trying to drag them towards you. Talk without judgment. You will soon know which words you must keep and which you can delete.

Which is your favourite creativity-inducing physical activity?

Read How To Write A Novel In 30 Days – 1 and 2

HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL IN 30 DAYS – 2

There are two types of people in this world:

  • Those who like a well-ordered, disciplined life and
  • Those who always crave excitement and a routine life bores them almost to death.

We will talk about the second group because the first group has everything planned out and doesn’t really need any further inputs. Mostly.

So the people who crave excitement try to find it in dangerous sporting activities such as bungee jumping, river rafting or even sky diving. The more adventurous ones even take it up as a profession. Such as bullfighting.

And if you are an Avenger or a Superpower-person, you get your thrills in kicking the a** of those mammoth antagonists that more often than advance towards you from the horizon, stomping over buildings and buses and scattering  laypersons like ants whose piece of candy has been snatched away.

Those who cannot physically access these activities try to find excitement in activities like substance abuse and other type of addictions.

These are the Excitement-Junkies (EJ).

These activities can be life-threatening (except if you are an Avenger or Super-power person) and most of us don’t want to lose our lives in pursuit of excitement. What options do most EJs have, then?

Here is where NaNoWriMo comes in.

Coverpic banner

Photo Credit: NaNoWriMo

If you are a creative person and ever felt the call to write a novel (which is also why you are reading this article), the ‘Deadline’ is the device that will bring to you all the excitement of a battle without endangering your life.

30 days of writing, a minimum word count, not doing your daily minimum, the word-backlog piling on, the approaching deadline and the thrill of validating your novel a few minutes before 11:59pm on 30th November. Slaying a dragon couldn’t give you this kind of a high. EJs of the world, rejoice.

Conversely, writing to a deadline is also ‘being in a Zen state’ or ‘being in the moment.’

Okay, let us try an experiment.

Open a New Word doc. Or a blank page in your notebook.

Now write 500 words of a story using these words:

crash, crumpled paper, straw, gravel, ochre.

There is no time limit. Begin now.

Finished? Not yet? Why?

Okay, let that go.

Open another New doc or blank page, as the case may be.

Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes. Ready?

Now, using these words: social worker, mop, hotel room, beeper, write a story of 500 words within 15 minutes, beginning NOW.

With a deadline looming ahead, your inner editor does not get an opportunity to barge in with its deprecating words. And with limited time at your disposal to finish the story your mind gets totally involved in the task, relegating all extraneous thoughts to the back- burner. Isn’t that what meditation is all about. And really, if after a gap of time, say a few days or months, you read what you have written, you’d be quite pleasantly surprised. “Have I written this?” is one of the most common expressions that describe what you feel.

But if words like meditation confuse or scare you, then consider deadline being the weapon that can wipeout the curse of “one day.” According to Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, the world is full of “one day novelists” – those people who proclaim to the world that ‘one day, they will write a novel.’

That day is the 1st of November. Get ready for it.

P.S. The prompts given above are from http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/ It is a very good idea to write to prompts (within a time deadline). This exercises both both your physical and mental creativities. Try it.

More about physical creativities next week.

Hopefully, you have signed up at NaNoWriMo already. If you are on Facebook, check out the Wrimo India Page too.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please feel free to share this post (Go on, share it) but only with relevant attribution and with a link to this blog. Failure to do so will invite the evil eyes and you know how tough it is to get rid of those!!!

 

HOW BOLLYWOOD, POLITICS AND CRICKET CAN HELP YOU WRITE A BETTER NOVEL THIS NOVEMBER

As 1st November comes upon us in a few hours from now, the excitement escalates. Whether it is the first attempt at NaNoWriMo, or the 7th (as in my case), the enthusiasm and a little something happening in the lower back and somewhere near the heart region (some say these are the signs of hyperventilation – same as what happened to Bella everytime she saw Edward Cullen) is present each and everytime.

As the ML (Municipal Liaison, aka Main Cheerleader and Motivator) for India, my greatest joy comes from motivating wrimos to fulfill their authorial goals. I, then, feel like a godparent to those novels which were born or brought up in NaNoWriMo.

NaNo-2015-ML-Badge-Large-Square

Many blogposts have already been written about how to tackle NaNoWriMo (do check out the Wrimo India – NaNoWriMo Category on the right of this page).

Today I’m sharing with you a post which I wrote last year for the NaNoWriMo blog. Sharing it once again because the elements of  a novel haven’t really changed, even if the style of doing it might have, in a case or two.

Happy Writing and Reading, then 🙂

NaNoWriMo is an international event, and the stories being written every year reflect our hundreds of participating regions. We’re taking a Road Trip to NaNo to hear from our amazing volunteers and writers all around the world. Today, Sonia, our Municipal Liaison in the India region shares how to unite the diversity of description, plot, and motivation to write a great novel in November:

India is a land of diversities: physical features that range from the Himalayas to the oceans, weather that traverses the extremities; and cultural differences that encompass dress, food and language. These dissimilarities aside, there are three topics that make most Indians’ hearts beat faster: Bollywood, politics and cricket.

Bollywood, or How to Fill Your Novel with Song and Dance

Bollywood, as the Hindi film industry is known, is located in the city of Mumbai which is the financial capital of India. It is also the capital of beauty and emotions, which form the base of Bollywood. Hordes of starry-eyed youngsters throng the film studios with the hope of making their debuts in films whose earnings are inching closer and closer to what the Indian Mission to Mars cost. Emotions rule us Indians, and Bollywood turns those emotions into things we sing and dance about, no matter the genre.

Your NaNoWriMo novel, too, needs … Read more here.

WORDS, WORDS AND WORDS

 

WORDS

WORDS

Words have power. And word counts have even more power. They definitely do in NaNoWriMo.

Fifty thousand words, written, make you a winner. Written by hand or then typed out on a device. All goes. When your manuscript is uploaded during validation the word count should show 50K words. That’s all.

Those that write by hand (Salud!) can have someone verify the wordcount for them and they can then upload a document of equivalent words. Same is the thing to be done if you are writing in a language other than English or in a script that is not Roman.

And now for the maths of it:

50,000 words in 30 days are1666.6666 or 1700 words in a day.

Is it easy to achieve? Certainly, with a bit of a stretch. There are two ways to do this:

If you are a thoroughly disciplined writer with a stretch of time at your disposal, then you can write during the time slot you have identified is available to you in the day and cruise easily towards the finish line on the 30th of November.

On the other hand, if you are pressed for time, write wherever and whenever you can. Waiting for your turn at the doctor’s? Write. Feeding the baby? Write. Waiting for the bus to arrive? Write. Bits and pieces of writing will cumulate into a sizable total.

What is your favoured method of writing?

Writing Tip # 23

Whenever you think of your story, certain impressions and visuals will flit through your mind. Capture them as much as you can in words and/or pictures. These are outlines of your scenes. (Sonia Rao).

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://ithinksummerland.blogspot.in/2009_11_01_archive.html

UTTERLY UNFETTERED

Writing is an act of praying. Or at least an activity that connects one to an energy that cannot be named or even defined but can be considered to be ‘other worldly’. Don’t we often exclaim at something that is immensely creative with the words, “out of this world”?

And having faith in this universe/muse/divine energy is the only way in which NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org) can be won.

One comes into NaNoWriMo usually with just a desire to write a novel. Very few are well-versed with or even trained in the art of writing a novel when they attempt NaNo for the first time. Inner editor, writer’s block, outlines, plot points etc. These words form the jargon which the first time writer is lucky not to be acquainted with at that point.

Unfettered creativity and enthusiasm are the oars that will help the newbie writer to traverse the sea of words that will one day, hopefully, coalesce into a manuscript.

Do this, utterly unfettered, once, twice, three times, during NaNo in November or in any other month of your choice and be unsurprised when you notice the tremendous improvement in your writing skills as well as an ascension in your self-confidence as a writer because when writing is unfettered and authentic that is when the magic begins.


Writing tip # 21

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. (Jack London)

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

JOURNALING

The Artist's Way

The Artist’s Way

‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron is an iconic book which helps artists to unblock and find their creative groove once again.

The Morning Pages, which Cameron advocates in this book, for all, blocked or otherwise, is a form of Journaling as well as a form of meditation. For those not aware of it, morning pages are three pages of unedited writing you do as soon as you wake up. These pages are read by no-one, not even by the writer.

Morning pages can be a helpful tool to prepare for NaNoWriMo. If one has been dwelling on the story in the mind, then there is a good chance that insights might crop up during the writing of the morning pages. My morning pages are a jumble of words and if such an insight occurs I make it a point to circle or underline it so that I can retrieve it later.

Journaling in its simplest form can be taken to mean free writing. Many misunderstand free writing to be aimless writing. It actually entails writing non-stop on a particular topic for a fixed time or number of pages. This gives the conscious mind a chance to move out of the creative mind’s way as the ideas begin to stream in. This works wonderfully for character sketches and world-building for novels.

What has been your experience with journaling for NaNoWriMo?

Writing Tip #10

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” (Sylvia Plath)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://bestisyettocome.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/taking-the-artists-way-out/

INDIA

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.

This is the first line of the National Pledge of India and every time we recited it in school during assembly following it up with giggles was mandatory as one smart aleck or another invariably added the words ‘but one’ behind it.

But then, this post is not about the National pledge. It is about wrimos from India and NaNoWriMo.

India is part of the continent of Asia and though many people around the world think that the preferred mode of travel in India is the elephant they would be highly mistaken. India is now among the top countries in the world that suffer from pollution from the gases emitted by cars (We have all the Audis and the BMWs and the Mercs, and the others too).

All things are not as dull as the smog, though.

There is a burgeoning rise in people participating in NaNoWriMo. The number goes up every year and the enthusiasm is inexhaustible.

Last year there were around 3,500 participants which saw an increase this year. The most popular genre of writing is fantasy and the age of the participants varies from 13-75 (to the best of my knowledge of the active wrimos). One of the most exciting happenings is that many of the nanonovels have been published. In fact, one of the Wrimos, Prem Rao, has three published NaNo novels and one book of short stories which he wrote last year (nanorebel).

And yes, India is a beautiful country full of spicy diversity.

Writing Tip #9

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay?” (Stephen King)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

 

NANOWRIMO IS A HEAD FAKE

(Written by Sonia Rao and first posted after NaNoWriMo 2011, but is still very relevant)

Having finally come out of the post-NaNoWriMo stupor I decided that being a three time winner of the NaNoWriMo and an ML during one entitles me to do a post-mortem of the writing event.

And this is what I have discovered: ‘NaNoWriMo is a head fake’.

It is a well-known fact that the ‘funda’ behind NaNoWriMo is to complete writing a novel of at least 50K words in the 30 days of November. Lakhs of people all over the world attempt it and almost tens of thousands of people complete the challenge and are declared winners. Many Nano-novelists are born and many of them are published (one or two of them have even gained prominence in recent times).

NaNoWriMo, while encouraging us to write a novel in 30 days, also teaches us a lot of other things some of which I have enumerated below:

1)    A novelist or a writer must maintain a regular schedule of writing everyday (not only in November and not only 1667 words- even though that itself is a good start too). Many of us might attempt it even haphazardly; write a lot on one day and then slack off for a few. While this might work, well-known published writers have had a simple credo: Write everyday; because that is what a writer does!

2)    Everyone has a novel within them and the Nano novel is that one. Once that is done, the writer has to start exploring other sources of ideas and genres of fiction to write in.

3)    50K words are sufficient to be declared a Nano winner but in reality a novel could be anything from 60K to even 1,20,000K depending on the genre your novel belongs to. A writer has to write till his story is told and the number of words might not fall in the standard bracket. Word count matters to a newbie author as publishers would not be willing to experiment with new – author novels.

4)    Even if you have read truckloads of novels and continue to do so you will still need to learn the craft of novel writing to ensure your final product is of the highest quality. It would thus, not be a very good idea to send your Nano Novel, in its first draft avatar (pantsed or planned but not revised or edited) to the publisher.

5)    You might have completed any number of writing courses but unless you have actually attempted writing a novel (and even better, become a Nano winner) you will not really get the feel of what novel writing entails.

6)    Many writers of yore wrote by hand and they wrote delightfully too. But the first time I started writing a novel, I actually got bored of writing by hand, the hand moved much slower than the mind. Many months later when I read over the first few pages of the hand-written draft I almost puked at the heaviness and dullness of the prose. Nanowrimo helps us to avoid this lethargy in our script by giving us a deadline which can only be completed if typed on a device though it can be attempted by hand too, but is it fair to put your hand to use for one month only and then leave it to recuperate for the rest of the year?

What new and unexpected things have you learnt while attempting the NaNoWriMo?

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