Tag Archives: writer’s block

NaNoWriMo

When I signed up on a whim for the 2 day, 20,000 word weekend designed to kick off NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) I was hoping to get the word count in on a novel I began crafting a few weeks ago.

Arriving at the Alexandra Writer’s  Centre (AWCS) in C-Space, I felt a little intimidated. There were about 20 people scattered between 3 rooms, laptops open in front of them, busily typing away at tables, sitting on the couches, or sprawled out in one of four easy chairs in the conversation corner.

Taking a reassuring breath, and after introducing myself to the host, Anne Meticosh (author of four books) I found a spot at a table, booted up my laptop and began to type.

Okay, so my diving into the weekend writing wasn’t quite that quick. To buy some time, and perhaps (ok. most definitely) to escape the terror of that blank screen, I went downstairs to the main floor and bought a latte. I checked out a few of the vendors as they set up for the Saturday morning Farmer’s and Maker’s Market and then I sat down in front of my laptop.

I still didn’t begin to type. I read and re-read the outline I’d developed for my novel and dove into the prologue of my story. After finishing it, and then the first chapter, I felt somewhat disoriented. While I was pretty sure what the issue was, I needed to clear my head.

You got it. I went for another latte and a longer stroll through the market.

It was while watching three dogs engage in a staring contest from the safety of their owners’ sides that it struck me what was wrong.

Unlike those dogs who were doing what came naturally to them, I didn’t know what came naturally to my characters.  I hadn’t written their backstories and thus, couldn’t draw from the well of their ‘normal’ response to situations as I wrote.

Back upstairs at my table, I went back to the drawing board. I let go of my 20,000 word goal as I dug into writing out ‘what my story’s all about’ and crafting backstories for the people populating it.

It was a long, fruitful and deliciously inspiring weekend. Surrounded by fellow creatives, I dove into the mystical landscape of a story unfolding and while I didn’t get a lot of work done on the actual manuscript (no 20,000 word prize for me) I did come away with a better understanding of what the story is that I’m trying to tell, and even more importantly for me, why I want to write it.

Thank you AWCS, Anne and all the fellow creatives who filled that space with such wonderful energy and inspiration.

I am so thankful my whim to enter the weekend pushed, pulled, dragged and compelled me back to the writing well.

Next, I shall be blocking my days out to include ‘novel’ writing time along with my studio time. And… just to go all public on myself, my goal this month is the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count!

Wish me luck! (which also means I may not be here as much as I’ll be buried in story and delving into the craft!)

There’s only one way up from the bottom!

how do I copyPerhaps it’s happened. I have reached the nadir of my blogging journey. The ideas have faded. The thoughts vanished. The words evaporated. Maybe I am in a writer’s block? That place where words clump together and an inspiring thought cannot be found?

There’s only one thing to do. ‘Cause, if I’m in the pit, there’s only one way out and that’s UP!

These thoughts lazily drifted through my mind this morning as my fingers touched the keyboard and my eyes looked at the tiny cursor blinking on my screen.

Fill me in, it seemed to be calling. And my mind responded, “With what?”

It doesn’t happen often — that I sit down at my computer in the morning and find myself bereft of a theme, of an idea, or a thought to wrap words around and let the muse have her way with their formation.

Usually, the theme rises out of something that transpired over the previous day, or a fragment of a dream catches my awakening attention, or a lyric of a song sticks with me begging me to noodle away at wondering what it means, or, while reading something sticks and my yellow highlight pen gets even busier as I circle and frame and really, really draw my attention to a particular idea.

And then, as I write that, I remember so many ideas that captured my attention over the weekend.

I’m not sure if it was a song lyric, a piece of a news article or just my mind’s habitual wondering but at one point, I started writing in my journal about the times I’ve left places, people, situations, and how, in the moment of leaving I was really more afraid than feeling brave. I couldn’t see into the future. I knew the present wasn’t working and I knew change was necessary. But… to get to change I had to go through the pain of leaving ‘the now’. And I was scared. Yet, if I could know then what I know now, I might not have given so much energy to clinging to the now of what was, because no matter how hard it was to leave, my life today is a reflection of going through that change. And I love my life today…

“I remember when I left…”

I was also inspired by Ian Munroe over at Leading Essentially who wrote about teams and leadership. Ian just graduated from the Hudson Institute where he took his Coaching Certification and wrote an inspiring recap of what made the course and experience so brilliant.

“What makes a leader?”

Of course, Leigh at Not Just Sassy on the Inside always inspires my thinking and gets the muse fired up, especially with her two-part series on Managing Manna. I love reading Leigh’s posts because she always inspires thinking that begins with “I wonder?”…

“I wonder if I am balanced in my energy? What if I focus my attention on ‘the ask’ of the outpouring of my energy? What if, I get really, really conscious of the ebb and flow of my creative expressions to the point where what I am opening up to in the universe is a reflection of my capacity to receive?”

Val Boyko at Find Your Middle Ground inspired my thinking over the weekend too. She wrote about finding inner piece by moving away from struggle and resistance through what Tara Brach in her article at one of my favourite websites, Spirituality and Practice calls, The Sacred Pause. Val’s words gave rise to the question…

“In this moment right now, what am I feeling?”

There were others. A song on the radio. In particular, Bastille’s Pompeii with the refrain,

“But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?”

“How often do I just close my eyes and pretend everything stays the same?”

A road-sign warning of construction ahead that had traffic slowed to a crawl, yet, at the point where all the orange pylon’s directed two traffic lanes into one, there is not a construction vehicle, a worker, nothing to suggest that construction is taking place. Really?

“Why does a five minute slow down in traffic feel like FOREVER? Seriously? Have you ever been caught at a red light forrrr eveeer?”  I didn’t think so.

So many ideas floating around in my mind. So many opportunities to explore and adventure into.

Why did I begin fearing what might not appear when I know if I simply trust in the process and let go of fear, all will be well?

Why is it that even when I know that grace is always present, I still cling to the belief she’s abandoned me?

Which reminds me of my daughter, Alexis, who has started writing again at her blog How I Survived Myself (YEAH!) In her new post titled, Be Love, she writes about reassuring a man on the elevator that he wasn’t stupid, as he claimed, just because he took the down elevator when he needed to go up. “How often do we say things about ourselves that rob us of our happiness, destroy our intimacy and connection with others, and steal the possibility of self-acceptance?”, Alexis writes. Which begs the question…

“How do I love me?”

And now that I’ve put all this wonderment together, I have lots of ideas to carry me up out of the pit of believing there’s nothing left to explore.

Isn’t life amazing?

I love it!

 

And… for your entertainment!