There Are Four Days Until NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

I suppose the title says enough. There are four days now until November first. As some of you might know, November first, for some, marks the beginning of the years most hectic month, but not because of Christmas shopping and turkey basting. It’s hectic because we get to begin a lot of that and write a novel. If you haven’t already read my first NaNoWriMo post, I encourage you to do so here. I won’t go over survival tips at this time, since I have some of the main ones in the last post. I am here to encourage you.

I didn’t do NaNo the first year I learned of it. I thought my friends were nuts for trying to do such a thing, especially since we were all in high school at the time. I had been writing but everything I wrote was small. Mostly short stories and poems. I didn’t think a high schooler was capable of writing something that long, after all we were still learning the basics, weren’t we? I was mistaken of course, and it wasn’t until the next year that I realized it. As my friends became more and more comfortable with sharing their work, I started to realize that someone so young could still write well regardless of how many classes they took. Writing isn’t about how many classes you have under your belt, nor is it about how official the writing is. What I learned is that to be a writer, you have to write. You can’t wait until you’re ready to write. You have to just do it, and poorly. You write poorly for however long it takes until you learn on your own what your own voice sounds like. Each writer has their own voice, and the words you use only help your voice, but no matter how many fancy words you throw in there, your voice is still your voice. So just write.

I can barely even share my writing with the world, but I’m going to write a novel. I already have a novel written, and two half complete novels. Those were the stories I  gave up on and then proceeded to beat myself up over. What kind of writer gives up on their writing? Truth is, most. In fact, they all might have given up on a story at one time or another. Not all stories are meant to be published, or even finished. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just suggest not giving up on each and every story, there are some that will sweep you away in the blink of an eye and you’ll be along for the journey just as your readers will be. Writing is fun and I encourage you to seek out the thrill of writing a story. It’s addicting too, so before you know it you’ll have plenty of notebooks filled up with different colored inks and quotes wrapped around your wrists and arms. Trust me, that was our thing in high school.

Don’t give up, if you’ve considered participating in a NaNoWriMo season, I strongly suggest you go along with it. The mere curiosity is proof enough that you are ready, otherwise you’d be wondering about cutting out paper snowflakes or which dumplings are best, the poofy light ones that float to the top of the gravy or the ones that are dense and doughy and sink to the bottom. You’re wondering about writing, writing a novel at that, so I say you’re ready. The time doesn’t get more perfect than it is now, with NaNo in just four days. You even have enough time to plan, considering most seasoned WriMo’s don’t even do that much before November first.

Give it a try, I promise you’ll like it.

Writing Space

I recently read a blog post that talked about writing space. I’d never really put much thought into where I did my writing until that post. I guess I just choose what feels most comfortable to me at the time that I choose to write, and tonight it seems I’ve chosen to sit next to a 44′ picture window while it thunderstorms out. If any of you have ever seen a thunderstorm from the mid-west part of America, you’ll know what vibes are around right now. For those who don’t know about the thunderstorms in the mid-west, you need to know that it’s constant lightning. I don’t mind thunder, I actually enjoy it. So what did I do when I heart the first roll of thunder? I opened up my document program and began typing, almost as if that was the only time that I could write. I suppose, I’ve found the best writing space for me.

Of course, I can’t have my thunderstorms all the time (though, according to family, there have been more thunderstorms here than there usually are on average). Where do I choose to write then, when the thunder just isn’t on my side? Well, the couch is usually the first spot, nestled next to one or two of the cats with a latte or a cup of tea. I like it to be quiet when I write, but sometimes I actually put on Mozart or dubstep, depending on my mood. And I always listen to it with headphones, for some reason the noise that comes from my speakers just irritates me when I’m writing. And I don’t always use my laptop for writing, sometimes I need to put pen to paper, and boy do I have quite the collection of pens. Two for each mood I suppose. Got the fine tips, the medium tips, free ink, gel pens, and felt tip pens, all with different grippies and weights, each one is a pleasant color and shape. My notebooks are thick, non spiral, college ruled. Some of them don’t even have lined paper, which I usually use when writing with my fountain pens. I have a lap desk, one of those little cushion things that you rest on your lap and it allows you to have a hard surface to write on.

When do I write the best though? Believe it or not, it’s not when I’m next to a violent thunderstorm or while I’m sipping the Earl Grey, it’s actually when I’m out and about. Back in NY I used to have to wait at the local grocery store before my shift at work. I had to wait because my boyfriend worked a few hours before me and my job was too far away to be able to walk to. I had invested in a Thinkpad, which I swore would be used to further my writing (and so far it has)  and I purchased a nice laptop bag for it. I began to settle into a routine. My boyfriend drops me off at the grocery store, I wander around looking for something to quench my thirst (usually a pomegranate drink), I buy a slice of pizza or pack of sushi then I proceed to sit at an empty booth in the cafe and set up my laptop. This was during the busiest part of the day, when people are transitioning between their lunch breaks and the rest of their shift, or just getting off of their shift and stopping in for lunch. Sometimes I would even see people conduct small meetings at one of the round tables. I guess it’s convenient, there’s plenty of food and drinks, and you can sit there for as long as you like and just keep refilling your soda cup. For some reason, this is where I did my best writing.

At the time that I began doing this, I was just finishing up a round of NaNoWriMo and was jumping into the editing portion of it. I was always in the zone during this time and I would over shoot my word count, or re write a portion of the NaNo and create so much flow that I then had to either edit, delete or create new chapters to make it all fit. It wasn’t the food or the pomegranate drinks that kept me in the game, it was the hustle and bustle. Something about the environment, about being around people who were focused, kept me focused that much more. And maybe a little was my anxiety too, I didn’t want to be bothered by anybody that might want to talk, so I would put on the headphones and create my own space at that booth. The vague smell of smoked chicken and ribs, coffee and pizza dough helped to comfort me as well. I happen to like food, especially pizza, smoked meat and coffee. Being surrounded by my comfort foods helped quite a bit, and I bet if there was a candle to make my house smell like those  three, I might buy just one to see if it was worth it. I can’t keep my house smelling like that all the time, it’s expensive to smoke meat all the time. So the post I saw today got me thinking. What do other people do to create their own writing space? Do you have a special place you like to go, or sit? Or a special snack to fuel your brain as it hatches ideas? Perhaps a certain candle you light? I’d love to hear about your writing  ‘ritual’.