NaNoWriMo

Earlier this year after reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin I found inspiration to begin writing again.  I was especially taken by the idea of writing a 30-day novel and determined to give it a try.  I apparently skipped over the brief mention of National Novel Writing Month, but it must have stuck with me because I decided that November would be my month.  My reasons were weather (the first month of more indoor time), and the obvious fact that November has 30 days, perfect!

While I was enjoying the Sunday paper I stumbled upon an announcement about November being NNWM and decided to look into it more this morning.  I am now officially registered on the NaNoWriMo website and will be participating in any local events and entering my work for judging.  The last bit was wholly unexpected, but it is a useful tool to keep me on it when the going gets rough.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the 30-day novel is 50,000 words (the approximate length of “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby”) written in yes, 30 days.  That means 1667 words a day, give or take.

Anticipating the things that most often derail my attempts to focus on a task that has the potential to frustrate and make me want to quit, I plan on employing a few tactics in advance.

First – the ongoing office disorganization.  I will spend at least one hour a day for the next 15 days regaining order and making sure I have all of my supplies at hand.  Being able to find what I am looking for and not having the excuse to run out to buy printer paper will keep my eyes on the screen and my fingers on the keys.

I plan to follow a schedule similar to the one I have now but stretching out the writing time to allow for an additional 1667 words a day.  Part of the challenge is NO EDITING, saving that for December.  How I will manage that I have no idea, but the point is to grow creatively and resisting interrupting the flow to edit is key apparently.  As a result, I will complete each day’s writing in one sitting with my inner editor locked in the closet.

Make this my number one priority.  The dishes, the laundry, dealing with email, chatting on the phone with family and friends; any and all of those will be on hold during my time to write.  And how much time will that take?  I’m not sure and expect it will vary daily.  I will give myself a two-hour window to start and then adjust as needed.

Likely this blog will see shorter entries, some about this endeavour and others on the usual range of topics.  If you are planning on participating in this challenge, let me know, I hope to keep up with my fellow writers with encouragement and when that fails commiseration.

I’ve been a SLACKER!

Okay, so I thought I would post weekly but life has overtaken me!  It all started innocently enough when I was volunteering at my community garden with the Library Kids In The Garden project and got to know the Master Gardener, Colleen.  From her I learned that I did not need fencing to have my own garden, that I could make a compost bin from items I had on hand and thought I would burn (eek) !  It went from there.  So now I have a quarter plot at the community garden and one about the same size here.   The one here is my writing slacker excuse du jour.  First I had to haul railroad ties from else-where on the property, uphill of course!  And I had to mow down the grasses and weeds; oh, and build my compost bin from old broken down pallets that remained from  when the house was built and thus pre-dating me.  And, and, and….created a writing furlough in my mind.

Did I mention the rose bush?  I found myself busy and productive, the good stuff; but yet again leaving my life’s passion in the dust.  I am over and over regrouping to find that balance in my life.  It seems I live on a teeter-totter rather than a balance beam and I need to find a way to migrate to the better location.

Tonight is my first step in finding balance, which means that I cannot leave my passion for writing behind; I must make room for things I value such as the gardens and library; and lose the time wasters.  Distractions are so easy to come by and so hard to set aside, but that is my goal.  Identifying the distracting elements and focusing on the productive ones.

You will find me circling back to writing more, but maybe a bit about gardens, kids, the library, composting and weather instead of the more philosophical topics, but then again all of those things can generate a bit of philosophy or at least some homespun wisdom.  Like all things in life, blogging evolves and we shall see where this goes.

Stay tuned……

Cross-Training

For those of you who have read this blog daily, a heartfelt thank you!  I realized with three sick days off that the dailiness of this has served its purpose and I am indeed writing every day.  But it has become confined to my blog and I have set aside other writing in favor of what you read here.  I want to add back working on the poetry and writing exercises that I hope will allow me to continue to improve as a writer and have some new things to add to the other pages of this blog.

I think we all need to change it up once in a while, whether it is our exercise routine, the route we take to work or the myriad other things that we do every day.  My cross-training just happens to be changing forms of writing.  As I have said in my “About Me”, I am not a storyteller, but I would like to become one.  And I haven’t written a decent poem in a long while.  So I am putting on my cloak of imagination and setting off.  I will put a note in a bottle and float it your way now and then, and in the not too distant future I hope to have some new poetry and perhaps a short story to share.  And since I can’t help but have those philosophical musing moments a new post on the topics I have written about these last few months is bound to pop up.

What Inspires You?

Inspiration, a tricky thing.  That little spark that can jump into flame with timing, effort and enthusiasm and just as easily slip away.  Looking for topics to comment upon on a daily basis has caused me to wonder what happens that allows a quote or a side note in another blog to cause my mind to kick into gear and the words to begin flowing.  I certainly do not wake up every morning with some brilliant piece already formed in my head just waiting to be typed!  For the most part when I hit the publish button, I am satisfied; thoroughly pleased on occasion and really excited once or twice.

So how do I inspire myself to keep writing day after day?  As I surf for quotes or pull out the bookmarks from passages previously read, I let my subconscious do the wander-ing and make some of the connections behind the scenes.  Even though my personal ah-ha moments are few, I find the “likes” and” follows” and especially the comments written by my readers motivating.  To read that a particular phrase resonated with another person creating a connection with them is thrilling.

I have read so many “About Me’ stories across the blogosphere and they are truly inspiring. I look to each writer for ideas, topics and famous quotes they have discovered and have moved them in some way.  Each person has something unique that touches them, a photograph, a bit of humor; something that tugs at their sleeve for attention.  Some are passionate about a cause that is close to them or an all-consuming life event that begs to be shared.  Others see the mundane and add a perspective that makes it sparkle.  The inspiration behind each story, behind each life, is as distinctive as it is original.

So what inspires you?  What causes you to becomes animated and excited, eager to share and create?  Looking inward and drawing out the best of your inspired self allows you to greet the day with enthusiasm and joy.  And when you can’t find it inside, just look around.  It seems when one begins to look for something it pops up everywhere.  Keep your eyes and heart open, be inspired!

Milestone ~ 100 Posts

This marks my one hundredth post since beginning my challenge to write every day.  While for many it is important to take a day off to refresh and rejuvenate, for some reason I tend to just drift away.  This has been the case for so many things that I enjoyed and looked forward to; morning walks, going to the gym, eating healthfully, watching the nightly news; the list is endless.

I suspect this results from a lack of self-discipline and a somewhat drifty personality.  I lose interest easily, or rather I gain interest in something else easily and leave all of my best laid plans behind.  As part if my personal Happiness Project and overall growth, I realized this was one thing that lead to much unhappiness in my life.  Not only was I not doing something I deeply love, writing, but I had a long list of unfinished projects, unmet goals, unestablished habits.  This blog became my first step in the process of finding a way to make something I value stick.  Taking a day off from it has seemed like falling back into my pattern of drifting away, never to return.  As my regular followers know, I lost a day to a technology glitch, but I am happy to say I picked up the very next day.

Writing daily has other hazards as well.  Repetition being the first and a huge one at that.  I am not offering timely diet tips, a log of my struggles with weight or parenting or learning to dance.  This has become daily philosophical musings, and the topics are often interrelated and have been examined for centuries by great minds and even in my case discussed more than once.  In considering this I began to worry that this blog and its direction have grown stale.  I reminded myself that sometimes I must hear the same thing several times and from several angles before it really takes.  I also reminded myself that every day new readers find me and may only read a couple of entries, which then are new to them.  With that consolation I will continue looking at life, truth, the senses, reading, writing, happiness and the rest.  I look forward to the next one hundred posts and hope that you will as well.

We Are Not Alone

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

As I continue to write this blog I have come to discover so many like-minded people out there who are doing the same.  As my followers grow, I look to their writing to see what might have resonated for them.  Some are a mystery, in others I find kindred spirits. The longing for connection is universal; the ability to connect with such a diverse and far-flung audience is one of the great gifts of technology against which I sometimes rail.

Literature takes the connection into the realm of flight.  Words knitted together with golden needles; emotions laid bare, stripped naked; portraits of places visited only in dreams; all found lashed together, placed in a pocket or bag and carried about for quiet moments of reflection and joy.  Peopled with characters familiar as a friend; struggling, celebrating, tackling the fearsome and mundane with grace or collapse; relatable all.  Literature, the craft, the inspiration and the gift do not come to most who write. It is rarified air those few breathe, as they take what is known and recognizable and build around it a stone castle of enchantment and wonder, a cave of terror and pain, turning the people and problems on end to tell the tale.

In the end though, the thing that captures us is the ah-ha moment when we see ourselves and know that we are not in this alone.  That another must have felt the same sorrow or despair to be able to so clearly describe it, to feel as though they were peering into one’s mind at the very moment of grief, gives us a small dose of hope in the darkness.  Be transported, uplifted, informed, inspired; great authors connect your world with theirs.

New Habits

“Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again.” William James

Developing a new habit is the struggle to make a change that one perceives is valuable.  The habit I have most recently added is this blog.  I committed to writing daily, and to avoid the inevitable lapses with varying rationalizations that I am so prone to, I made a  very public commitment and told  the one person I could depend on to hold me accountable of my new habit.  I have backed myself into my own corner.

I have not been a creature of habit, I tend to work in waves of activity.  Habits I have tried to cultivate have fallen by the wayside more often than not, routine has not been a strong point to date.  I tied this exercise of creating and rooting a new habit with something that I have approached in waves in the past, but remains a passion; thinking, analyzing, and writing to understand the inner and outer worlds of the mind and the imagination.

As the time has passed the daily writing becomes more difficult rather than easier and I suspect this is about the time when I have dropped the ball of string, never to pick it up again so many times.  To persevere through this stage and come out the other side has been the goal; to that end, each day I spend more and more time searching for a topic, an inspired notion to share and expand upon.  A side benefit is spending time with great thinkers, philosophers, self-help gurus, the witty and the wise.  Often what I read is so succinct that expounding on it would do a disservice.  But there is little that does not get me thinking and it is also possible that my thoughts carry me in an unexpected direction, the result of which you read here.

As much as humans seem are creatures of habit we seem more often the prisoners of our bad habits than the creators of healthy habits.  The bad habits stem from a lack of mindfulness.  Before the first cigarette is lit, the first bag of greasy fries consumed, careful consideration of the consequences would surely give us pause.  But we mindlessly allow these harmful habits to sneak into our lives and hold us hostage.  When we are mindful and present we have to ability to see more clearly and judge the value of the habit.  Why then is it so very difficult to grow the roots of a good habit?  It may lie in the path of least resistance.  It is easy to procrastinate, drift along and give in when the first small difficulty arises.  It is hard and requires discipline to actively make good choices and fully integrate those into our lives with sound habits.  Continuing to push on until the activity requires little or no thought to begin and is fully ingrained is a worthy challenge.

I think that the next time I approach my computer with a sigh at the thought of writing because I committed to do so, I will remind myself of two things; first I chose to do this because it is an activity that ultimately makes me deeply happy; and second, to visualize myself chasing that string that has unwound.