Picture from @comfortablefields on instagram.
Four days until November 1st, when I will begin writing the first story I will complete (saying this in future confidence!) They tell me preparation is the key to success. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. So, this is what I have prepared so far for NaNoWriMo.
I wrote very basic character descriptions about the three main characters in my story. Writing this now and seeing what I have, I’m going to type out some better character descriptions for each of these characters and maybe basic profiles of some smaller flat characters in the story. One thing I never realized was just how much writing goes into a story that never makes it onto the page and into the binding. In this past year of attempting to figure out how I write stories, I have written countless pages of basically bullshit. 95% of it sucks. I’m not attempting to be self-deprecating, just real. There is another 4% of it that is decent and I would let people read and only about 1% that has the potential to be really really good if I tried again. So with this story, I’m trying to type and write out as much as I can think of that will drain my brain of all the practical uninspired noise in my head. Then I can get to the good stuff.
I wrote out a rough outline of how I think the story will go. Character A goes to Character B, they talk about X, and then Character A gets upset. Simple, basic, not trying to be fancy or deep. I’m just trying to see step by step how we get from the beginning to the end. That was quick and easy for me, it was 6 notebook pages front and back and I wrote it in about an hour at the kitchen table on a school night while the kids watched TV. What’s funny about that is the inspiration just fell on my head like a ton of bricks. I was tired, their were chores to be done, I was slowly loosing the will to do anything. When I reminded myself how terrible I feel when I get behind and have to work even harder to catch up on everything that’s when the story hit me. So I had to push everything aside, run and grab a notebook and pen and start scratching. I much enjoy this part of the creative process. Catching the inspiration is always fun because I literally never know when it’s going to hit me. My job is just to sit and waiting and be ready. As long as I’m present I’ll be prepared for the muse when he shows up.
I read someone suggested in a NaNoWriMo group to write a three paragraph blurb about your story before you begin and I thought that was a great idea. I want to try to write this as well, to have a clear idea of the beginning middle and end of the story. Finding the direction of the story before I begin seems like it will help me stay focused on the message I am trying to tell. There is the story and there is the message and I don’t like writing things that don’t have a message. Keep these things in line should help me stay focused! That’s my hope.
I wrote out a writing schedule for myself. I’ma pretty fluid and adaptable person. If schedules need to change last minute its easy for me to adapt and change around that. I don’t like being rigid and I definitely don’t like being too structured. It drives me crazy to follow the plan. Because like I said before what if the inspiration hits me at 10:00am but I’m not writing until 12:30pm? So in order to help myself, I keep an open mind about how the day feels. Today for example, I had a plan, but last minute things changed and now I’m writing at 11:00am when I didn’t plan to until 12:30pm. Regardless, there is a loose structure I have set to each day and I treat every day like a work day. At some point, every single day I carve out time to work. Whether that’s writing, or my actual job (and on those days I do both, sometimes). I do love working on something though, it helps me make the most of the day when I’m trying to balance family and work. But this balance is what brings the joy to what I’m doing. Being efficient with my time helps me feel good about what I do every day. My thing is more of finding a good routine. Every day, having a wake-up routine, a school routine, a day time routine, and an evening routine. Something about these help me not to get lost in my own emotions and go about my day wasting my life because of my misery. As a mentally ill person, being unproductive and lazy is just the catalyst to me feeling miserable about myself and my life and my work. Doing good things for me, help me to say good things about myself, which helps me believe that I actually am proud of me. I’m over explaining a very simple fact of just I do it cause it makes me feel good. I hope that by preparing these things, writing them down, I can repeat my successful days and have more successful days in a row. That’s the creative process right there in a nutshell. Figuring out how to repeat the things that got you into flow so you can turn it on whenever you need it. I have too many stories in my head and I’m wasting too much time waiting around for the muse to show up.
I also how that by beginning to blog my process it helps me stay focused on what I’m doing and how I am improving. It also gives me another outlet to write so I am pouring out content, which is what I really hope to do. I feel like a vessel. I stay still in my life filling myself up until I have enough energy and inspiration to begin pouring out everything I have been thinking and feeling and imagining. And it comes out in a flood. This is going to happen to me regardless. If I wasn’t focused on something creative these floods would just look like streaks of self destruction and I value myself too much now to allow myself to hurt myself like that again. This is why creativity and mental illness are linked so tightly. Being bipolar, I feel like I go through periods of time where I am full of very big powerful emotions that could control me. Without writing, these feelings become giant monsters that I cannot control and they wreak havoc in my life. Total destruction. I would destroy everything, if I didn’t have an outlet like writing to pour my anger and sadness and hatred and vengeance and lust and all those normal feelings that make me want to hurt myself. Mostly just self sabotage but there have been plenty of times I have turned those feelings against myself physically. I could make myself sick with all the things I feel. So writing is important for me. Writing is my savior. Writing is what keeps me good and I’m never not doing it. It’s really the most important thing to me, personally.
There are religious people who talk about when they found Jesus and that is what saved and made them feel whole again. I tried the Jesus thing, and I don’t know if it really worked for me, and if it did it’s because I was journalling every day what I thought about life as a Christian. So was it even really Jesus? But writing made me feel whole. Writing helped me understand. Writing gave me peace and clarity when I had none. Writing kept me sane and rational in moments where I could have completely flown off into a fantasy. Writing kept my family together and helped me repair my marriage when it was falling apart. I’ve prayed to God, I’ve done sacrifices and spells, I’ve confessed my sins, I have tried to change my life. But none of that made me feel better about having to walk out this life I was given. All of those rules and rituals were just chains to my misery. When I write and express myself, to myself, I am free. I’m weightless. I am open, uninhibited. And that’s what I have been searching for all my life.
I am happy today, hopeful about my goals and prepared to put in the effort to do what I want to do. I fell very certain in myself and my experience with this story. I’m certain I know how to express the basic layer of this story but I wonder more about all the magic I really hope to weave into it as well. All those details that make the story great. But this is thinking much to far ahead and I’m sure on a second draft this will be more the focus then. One thing at a time! Phew! For now it’s just about exposing all the bare bones of the story. I think it will be interesting to see how my feelings change about what I am doing as the month goes on! So for now, this is how I feel.
Four days and counting!