Defining a writer

There’s nothing more painful than reading success stories, while your unfinished project remains open for the fifth year.

It’s probably best not to read into how J. K Rowling’s success came out of the blue, but I suppose there’s some inspiration to take from it. After all, if we don’t believe we can get somewhere, then there’s no point in doing anything at all.

I’m forever flicking through countless articles of what makes a writer a true writer, but in all honest, most of them are filled with over the top money making schemes that takes away what is essential in the art of writing – personality.

What is the point in trying so hard to work out the ways of the novel? What do we benefit from taking lessons on how a certain character should act? Not much, in my opinion. There’s a delicacy involved when creating your own world. It is literally taking a part of your self, and bleeding it into electronic ink so finely, that you can call it your own. Taking away the creativity and adding in structured lessons you found online, is just taking away what makes you a true writer.

Yet, there are other issues I need to face other than originality. Patience and determination is just a few amongst dozens of others. But perseverance is the most important. One day, I’ll get there, and I’m sure it will be awful and lacking of all correct structure and dialogue. But it will be mine, a part of me that I plucked out so carefully, and crafted it into something worth my own time.

As usual, I’m babbling, but I hope there some form of clarity to be found. Don’t define your stories based on what other deem useful. Write about what you want, not what you think is essential.

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Recall

I can feel my heartbeat. I can hear it when I lay on my chest as though it was in my ears. It tells me that I’m alive, that I’m still ticking, but it also tells me that I’m getting older. And that terrifies me.

After each and every beat, I age, and I’ll keep aging until my heart stops beating. That’s when I’ll know I won’t age further. But, my body will keep on changing. I want to be buried. Where? I don’t know, but I do know that I want my body to remain intact for as long as possible… even when time begins to set in on my corpse.

I often repeat a saying to myself: For time is not the giver of life, but the dawn of the end that follows the knife. I like it simply because it’s the cold truth; Time eventually brings death to things that are alive, just like a knife could do once it makes contact with something or someone. Time. That’s my enemy. I’d give anything just to slow it down a little. I would of course love to step back in time, to see my grandma again, but time waits for no man, and my life must keep ticking away… but I just wish it would slow down a little.

I’m 21. Twenty. Fucking. One. I remember standing in front of a mirror in my bedroom at my dad’s. I was about 11 or something like that. Age didn’t matter then. But something else did. I remember seeing myself in the poorly lit reflection, my hair a little too long for my liking, my green eyes gawking back at me, and I remember feeling this odd sensation as I realised that I was actually alive. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but to me it was an odd experience. I understood some ways of life, and I knew that the chances of me ever existing were slimmer than you’d think.

There was a moment then, where I tried to think back. I thought back to a stupid time like 10,000 BC. And there was nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Not even darkness. It’s like when you’re asleep, having a dream, and once you wake up, you’ll try and recall the dream for a while. But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, you see nothing, not even black. It was in that moment where I began to realise that it might all end the same way it began. With nothing.

The End is Near – NaNo 2017

There’s less than 48 hours left of NaNoWriMo 2017, and I believe it’s time to reflect on the month.

I failed, the end.

Ok, so perhaps it’s a little harsh to say that I failed, because even though I haven’t managed to reach 50,000 (yet, maybe a miracle will happen), I’ve still began a story that I love, and will hopefully finish in the months to come. I believe it’s important to understand that success isn’t always the best thing to happen to you.

For those of you who have managed to reach 50k, well done, I hope you keep on writing! And for those who just couldn’t make it this year, don’t be too hard on yourself, you haven’t “failed”. Just because you fell a little behind doesn’t mean you haven’t done something productive.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to encourage you to write daily, the target is simply there to point out that a novel word-count is around that mark.

Now that the end is near, it’s time to think about what comes after. For me, I’ll be finishing my project, and then editing a novel I wrote last year, and because I participated in NaNo, I am in the mind set of writing everyday, and that’s what I think being a writer truly is, not just finishing a novel, but being devoted to setting time aside to write each day of the week, thinking about it every day, from the moment you wake.

This year may not have been your year, but perhaps the next one can.

Falling Behind?

NaNoWriMo is now well underway, and like many, I have fell victim to the usual distractions that this world has to offer… mainly Netflix…

I suspect that you’re behind by a larger margin than you anticipated? Don’t worry, when you break it down into statistics, it’s really not as awful as you assume.

I am currently at 10,213 words, which is over 6,000 words behind target, so, I found myself in a constant slump, telling myself that 30,000 words would be an acceptable achievement this year. Well, even though that is still an impressive number, it’s not the best I can do.

Try this little trick: write at least 4 sprints per day, for 20 minutes. That’s just one hour of out your day. Not long, right? Most of us assume that we must hammer the keyboard or page with so much effort, when really, 20 minutes at a time is all you really need.

In 20 minutes, I can write, on average, 600 words. 600 x 4 = 2400 words. Now, think about it this way; if you began with such a strategy, you’d have written 50,000 words in just 20 days.

Nothing is so daunting when you break it down into basic numbers.

Now that we have that out of the way, the next step is getting motivated to write, yes? Well, try this little task:

Each morning, John Steinbeck would sit and gaze outside of his window for just 10 minutes, and he would write about what he saw. This warmed him up each morning, and encouraged him to work on something different after those 10 minutes had passed.

I want you to try that each morning for the month of November. Just 10 minutes. See how it makes you feel.

Good luck with your novels. I’d love to chat with some of you about the experience!

 

Writing Challenge

Ahead of NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to create some practices that may help you push for that daunting 50,000 word mark.

At times, when I’m writing my novel, I struggle with specific events in which a character react in a certain way. I often find that the dialogue between multiple characters can merge into one, as though it were the same person speaking. Developing a thought process is key to a strong character that your reader can learn to adore (even if it’s an antagonist).

So, here’s a little challenge that can help you through:

I want you to write about your character in the process of dying. Now, I don’t want you to set the scene, or describe some event in which your character meets their final fullstop, no, I want you to simply writing about their thought process: what are they thinking? Who are they thinking of? Are they afraid, do they believe in an afterlife?

This method has helped me get the best out of my characters, as it encouraged me to understand how they would speak and react in different situations.

 

I hope this helps you, and I’d love to read what some of you wrote! (I’ll be happy to publish anyone’s work on my website if they wish).

Good luck for next month!Shield-Nano-Side-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes

Learning Success

LadderAs an aspiring author, nothing is more satisfying that receiving a good review of my work, and I’m sure you’re the same.

This article doesn’t just apply to writers, but to everyone. If you’re someone who has a passion for doing absolutely anything, then read on.

It took me years to figure out what I was good at. From a very young age, the idea of being an author seemed like a good one, yet, I didn’t know exactly what that was – yes, I knew it meant writing, I knew an author was someone who created a book, but I had no idea what the ingredients were for being a writer.

It wasn’t until Year 9 (you must forgive me, but I don’t know the US Grade equivalent)  that my teacher pointed out just how creative I was. I was always pretty bad at English, both language and literature, but I always loved creating thing. At Primary school, even creating a new game entertained me for days on end. In year 9, it was pointed out to me that I had a talent for creating stories.

Naturally, this excited me more than anything else. Finally, I thought to myself. Yes, finally! Finally, I was good at something… at least I thought I was. Little did I know, that I was far from a good writer at the time.

I remember speaking to my cousin about writing. She pointed out that the best way to become a full-time writer was to enter competitions, to get myself on the map. That certainly is one way of doing it. So, we found a competition known as “Wicked Young Writers”, and the best thing was that the deadline was only a week or to away, so my waiting time wouldn’t be too long.

I immediately go to work on my very first story, “The Baby In The Winter”. The word limit was only 750 words, but that was enough for me. I finished it within a day, and the feeling I felt was second to none. Finally, I was a writer. I had finished something I set my mind to, and the emotions were very rewarding.

Alas, I didn’t make it into the final. My emotions were dragged down to the depths of my heart, turning cold and sour. But I didn’t give in. Next year! I thought to myself, and indeed, next year, I tried again. This time, I tried something a little different: I wrote something similar to a previous winner of the competition – a fan fiction. It became apparent to myself that I had a fascination with dark literature, bleak, cold and unforgiving.

The story I wrote that year was was a much deeper and darker version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I saw a huge change in my writing style. It was fuller, bolder, and far more descriptive than the last. I had learned what a paragraph was (somehow I missed that lesson in school…), and I understood the fabrics of a story.

Alas, that year, I didn’t get in again. I began to lose hope. Maybe my writing simply wasn’t good enough? Yes and no. My writing was solid, but it lacked originality. I understood how to write, but I was missing the one thing that makes a story stand out – NEW. I was missing my own ideas, failing to see past the curtains; there was a good story there, but it wasn’t what wanted to write, no, it was what I thought others wanted to read.

The third year soon came by, and this time, my story was strong, original, what I wanted to read. I persevered. I had hope this time. I had actually sat down and thought it through, it was my own story.

That year, and the year that followed, I got into the top 20 in the country. I didn’t win, but it was something.

Dedication. That’s what I learned. Most people fall at the first sign of failure. I almost did, but I didn’t let myself fall. I took it upon myself to never accept no as an answer, and it paid off. Now, my mind knows no limits.

Failure is the sole reason we persevere. If we succeed in everything that we do, we’ll never learn anything. When faced with failure, know that it isn’t a step back, but a ladder. It’s not going to be easy to make it to the top, it will take time, a very long time, but the end goal will never change, so long as you learn from your last step.