Tag Archives: writers

What Does NaNoWriMo Do For You?

As you may or may not know, November is National November Write Month. Simply put, people from all walks of life sit in front of their computers for thirty days and write upward of 50,000 words. Some people write memoirs and some people write sci-fi epics, while others write about their exploits in college. Recently, there was a post from Salon laying down some serious NaNoWriMo hate. I’m not sure I agreed with the logic the author employed, but they brought up two interesting points: 1) These writers don’t spend enough time reading, and 2)¬†Events for writers are “largely unnecessary.” It’s that second point that has me the most intrigued.

When I participated last year, I wrote a cathartic piece about life after college and dealing with post-graduation depression. The whole thing was a meandering mess, wobbling back and forth between fact and fiction like a kid learning to ride bicycle. I finished my story within a day of NaNo ending, energized by the daily ritual of writing I had created and the inspiration that ritual had awakened.

And then I didn’t write anything until the following spring.

Are writing events really necessary? Do we need these month long fests to write? At best these binge-writing sessions stir the creative juices around a bit, only to have them simmer and then congeal until the following year. It’s a cycle of inspiration and determination, followed by months of shame and disappointment. How is that helpful to the writing lifestyle?

I decided to try something different this year. Instead of participating in NaNo, I would try and establish a stable writing routine for myself that I would follow on a weekly basis and that would be toward some kind of end (as in writing a blog series or trying to get a spec script ready for pitching). While it hasn’t gotten me writing every day of the week like I had hoped it would, it’s made me prioritize my writing each week and set deadlines for myself. These deadlines have yielded much stronger results than waiting for one writing event after the other.

But these are just the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head like those awesome bouncy-balls you can get at truck stops for a quarter. What do you think? Are writing events like NaNoWriMo necessary? Do they do anything for you? What do you get from this sort of event?

On Writing Despite The Void

Writer’s block is a terrible tragedy that befalls even the best of writers. How they get through this debacle varies. Some take a walk to clear their mind, some eat a bunch of junk food, some watch movies, some take drugs, and so on and so forth. I’ve written a few blog posts about this before and thought I would do so again. Truth is, I’ve been in a bit of a “void” these past few weeks, and really haven’t had that much to write about be it for the blog or for my own script. The question then is, do I “write despite the void?”

The short answer: yes.

The less-short answer: yes, but it sure is a bitch and a half.

See, when you’re in the “void,” you’re fighting an uphill battle. The ideas are all gone, and the inspiration that you may have once had decided to go on that Vegas vacation it has been talking about all these years and not leave you a contact number. You still have to write, though, which brings up the obvious question: How? Here’s some things that have helped me get something onto the page, despite having nothing up there in my noggin.

Incentives

Sounds cheesy, but I reward myself for writing. I reward myself MORE for writing in the void. Ice cream, sweets, coffee, anything that might encourage me to get a few words out. Hell, I’ve even used social engagements as a reward for writing. Oftentimes, the stuff I write under these conditions aren’t all that great, but at least it’s something.

White Noise Method

Sometimes I’ve been able to crank out a page or two of something through what I call the “White Noise Method.” It’s a really simple method involving having the television on, the itunes playing on random, and having my cats racing each other around the room. Somehow through all the chaos I can get myself to focus. If you don’t have a cat, I’m sure you can substitute with a second tv.

Internet Removal Method

This is perhaps the most effective, but the hardest to initiate. It involves halting your access to the internet while you try to write.

Writing Groups

Another method that I’m always keen on trying to get myself writing more is one in which I gather with one or more people and just write. Sometimes, being amongst others is all it takes to get the creative juices flowing. You can step away from the page briefly to chat, and then just as quickly return. You also run the good chance of gaining some insight to what you’re writing as well as some useful brainstorming for future projects.

Anyway, just a few thoughts on what you can do to write while you’re in the “void.” It might be tough as hell, but eventually you’ll find that you have a lot of stuff written that you can go back and re-write. Oh yeah…re-writing. That’s a different story altogether.