writing

NaNoWriMo Brings Creativity

November is known around the creative world as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is often called. I don’t mention it because I am taking part in it this year. Don’t get me wrong – I have considered it the last two years, but last year I was finishing up Anything is Possible and this year, I’m fixing to move so my energies are elsewhere at the moment.

I do have an idea I am fleshing out to turn into a novel, but it’s not quite alive in my head yet. I still need to get the arcs fully-fledged and living. So, until then I am focused on building the story, but also continuing the learn and grow as a writer.

So, in honor of NaNoWriMo, I have taken a few of the days in the early part of this month to be creative with words. I keep a book, The Write Brain on my desk anytime I want a writing prompt. Some are fun. Some are challenging. but in the end, these prompts keep my writing fresh and also challenge me to try to new things.

What are the benefits of participating in NaNoWriMo or just focusing on being creative?

1. It keeps you alive. We are creative beings and you have to do it in order to be creative. Just like a musician who doesn’t play music, sing or write music, you must do what you love.

2. Focusing on your craft, even if for no other purpose than practice keeps you fresh. Freshness breads new ideas and helps keep the passion alive.

3. Something amazing can happen. When you do something just for the fun of it, you can create something amazing. Or better yet, a new idea can be formed that can transform your life.

Get to it – do what you love!


(flickr photo via jenorton)

Listen

Column Logo
*Beginning in 2010, I started writing a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.

Over Christmas last year I was staying at my best friend’s house with he and his family. It is always fun to be at their house as they always have something going on. They are playing games, eating, having wine or watching movies. I’ve spent many-a-late nights there watching movies.

Last Christmas we were hanging out in the middle of the day and we caught the end of August Rush, a great movie from what I saw. Today while relaxing, I caught the full-feature of August Rush. And I must say, it is a well made movie. I could listen to “August” play that guitar all day long. If only I’d been that talented when I picked up the guitar for the first time. For your information, it was a disaster.

But the movie itself had a great message. Yeah, it was about music and love and passions, but the line at the beginning and the end of the film has sat with me: “The music is all around us, all you have to do is listen.”

I think it is the same with any art. Artists get lost in their craft. Whether it is music, painting, writing, wood working; it is home, no matter what it is.

When I’m down or lost, confused or excited, I can always turn to my words. I have kept a journal off and on since 1993 and for the last three years, I’ve kept a public one here. I still do keep a private one. Sometimes I write a poem. Sometimes I just write. I write about my day, my fears, my triumphs and my unlimited stories of failures. It is m home. I speak and I write.

There was a day where the only place in the world I felt at home was a tennis court, but then I got hurt. I lost my passion for it. I will soon be returning, which I couldn’t be more excited about it. Your passions always find you. They never leave. I’m happy to be going to back to tennis. Even with my back injury, my words will never leave me. It is my home. All you have to do … is listen.

Creativity, I am Waiting

Column Logo
*Beginning in 2010, I started writing a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.

This is the fifth column I’ve penned officially for this blog. Each time I’ve sat down to write I’ve been concerned about the outcome. Heck, half the time I have not had an idea what I would actually write about. It is still scary. And as I thought about what I wanted to write about this time, I have been pulled in many directions.

I could write about the amazing weekend I had at the end of February. Everything has been a dream come true and some has just been really nice.

I could write about the painting I recently finished. I tried a new technique and I’m very pleased how it turned out.

I could write about Joe Mauer and baseball. I could write about my UNI Panther basketball team. I could write about politics or the pulled chicken I’m trying to make as I write this. The options are endless – and welcome to the world of the mind of a writer.

With the completion of my book, Anything is Possible, I’m awaiting my next project. I have a few ideas of what I’d like to write next, but I’m not sure where I will go. I would like to give fiction a go, but I’m debating whether I should do short stories for awhile first. I have a book that I try to use to keep the creative juices flowing, but I find I do one activity and then don’t touch it again for a month. That doesn’t really help keep the creative juices flowing. They just flow freely for five minutes and then dry up.

I have hopes that writing this column will get my mind off the non-fiction writing that I’ve spent the last 16 months perfecting and get me to write more freely. I’m not sure if it is happening. Of course, five columns in, I wasn’t expecting to be amazing. Just something. I wanted to feel like my writing and my passion was getting closer. Instead, I’m just writing about writing. I’m writing about the struggle I’m having within myself to find that one creative spark. I’ll be in the shower and just thinking about a story I’d like to tell, but then it goes away. I’ll be on the treadmill, sweating out the stress of the day and I”ll get a brilliant idea that would be certain to win me an Oscar, but then I still have two miles to run and by the end, the idea is gone.

Creativity is like that – fleeting – always waiting. I hope it jumps out at me soon. Come, I am waiting.

Anything is Possible – The Stress

Over the last year as I’ve been writing and working on this book, I’ve had countless people say that either they or someone they know has always wanted to write a book. I admire that because I was once one of those people. Of course, if you know me, I still want to tackle the fiction genre at some point as well. There are a lot of steps that a writer must take in the creation of a new work.

AIP Chapter 8 StressFirst, an idea must be born. Then the idea must be fleshed out and sometimes flushed down the toilet. At no time is it easy. Then the idea must be turned into a lot of words… and I mean a lot! Then those words are deleted to the ever growing heap pile of passive verbs and then sentences, paragraphs and sometimes entire pages are re-written.

I had to re-write a whole chapter of Anything is Possible! In fact that’s what this photo is of. The night of editing Chapter 8, I worked until the early morning hours and tried to hand write some thoughts at the end of the night, only to not be able to read them the next morning.

I haven’t even touched on the publishing process which is many many posts worth of information. I’ll just say I learned a lot, got rejected and still found a way to finish this project in a way I am proud of.

After all this work and all the time and energy, the blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not blood), the book needed a cover. Nathanael worked for hours trying to find the right cover for me. But as the writer, the artist, I knew what I wanted and we couldn’t find it. Then came the turtle. Within a day of seeing it I knew it was perfect.

I will say this, the stress was absolutely worth it. It was worth it because it was the fulfillment of a dream. And I believe any dream you have and keep dreaming is a dream worth chasing.

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Finding Inspiration

So what if my book is done? (by the way, I’m not actually asking that… I’m using it to push me at the moment and you’ll find out why if you keep reading.) It is a tremendous accomplishment for me. I almost quit the project at numerous times, but I kept at it and have a book to show for it!

But now what? No one ever told me what comes next! It took over a year of my life to write Anything is Possible, and here I am, with 80 copies sitting my office, the book for sale on Amazon, but not project in the works. People tell me to enjoy the success for awhile. To take some time for me. I’m trying but as I find my schedule easing up late last month and this month, I’m finding myself with an extreme case of work-fever.

I want to work. I want to create. I love taking photos and painting, but I absolutely love learning about words. I love pushing reading not only intellectually, but personally and emotionally. And right now, I’m not doing that. I need a new project.

I have a few ideas for fiction stories, but I have never written a full-length novel, so that is another barrier to overcome. I also have an idea to take the Life Lessons to another level, but am putting that into the five-year plan at the moment. So, I’m going to spend my time and energies getting in front of more audiences (can you help?) and doing some short-story writing. I have a ton of room to grow as a writer so I’m looking to get inspired.

That begs my question for you:

When you are challenged (or in a rut), who inspires you?

(flickr photo via Stephen Poff)