Life vs Writing

Life vs Writing

“In order to write about life first you must live it.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Is it not life that makes the writer who they are? I believe that both our lives and the very core of our being influence who we are as writers. I often ask myself, if my life had been different, would I still write the way I do?

I have noticed a trend in the social media world that each aspect of our lives seems to be kept separate, independent pages for the food we eat, the books we read, trips we take, to name but a few. I have one page showcasing all that is me, my gorgeous kiddies, my much loved books, my journey as an aspiring to be publish writer, my work life, my culture, cloud porn… As all of these things are an integral part of who I am.

An author’s experiences are echoed in their work. What they feel, see, hear and think about–all part of their world–show up in the characters they dream to life, the genres they choose, their style of writing and the very creation of the story itself. No one lives in a vacuum; the experiences we live through are a necessity in order for us to create.

The people in our lives are probably the greatest influence of all. Although I come from a family of readers, I attribute my love of reading and ultimately my path as a writer to my Grandmother. In her retired years she worked in a book exchange and I would spend most afternoons with her, looking through the piles of dusty books, selecting those which caught my attention. Often she would bring books home for me, our taste in books being almost identical. Books are what cemented the bond between us.

So as much as we all would love to disappear into our own personal ‘Writer Zones’ we must not forget to live life and embrace all that it has to offer, soaking up all the nuances of the people around us, mentally storing all that makes people the characters that they are. And then? Then we can retreat into our own little worlds and create the lives we dream of, the blank books that we were born as now filled with the stories of our lives.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

No pressure but… Write! Write! Write…

No pressure but… Write! Write! Write…

“You can’t fail if you write; silence is the only absolute failure. Each sentence is a small success” – William Hoffman

So my exams are over *insert happy dance here* and this means more time for writing. To date the development of my current work in progress has been sluggish but what keeps me going is the fact that the progress is visible.

Although I am still writing with no particular daily word count goal, as this suits the “no stress” me, I have now been toying with an idea of when I would like to have the first draft finished by. As much as I enjoy being able to just sit down and write what suits me for the day that feeling of enjoyment is becoming overwhelmed by the need to see this phase of the mission complete.

Initially I had an optimistically attainable plan for completing this novel: starting with the prewriting phase of using my brainstorming notes to do the layout, followed by writing the first draft while sticking to my daily word count goal as much as possible, then once completed take a timeout while researching my next project before getting stuck in to work on revising, before doing some serious editing. I did the layout which, surprisingly, I loved and feel has really helped my personal writing process. And at first I stuck to my daily writing goal, which was difficult due to the workload of life, but decided to put aside for a more anxiety free writing experience.

Now my mission continues, with an effort to increase my productivity without re-establishing the pressure of sticking to an intimidation inducing word count. I have to say it: No-one functions well under pressure. Most of us like to think we do, but in reality I really think we don’t or, at least, we don’t accomplish as much as we could. Maybe we feel more inspired with a deadline looming over us, but maybe it’s just a feeling, not reality. Perhaps the outcome is a more productive you, but what of the quality? So I am torn – torn between all the advice of getting the first draft completed as fast as possible because “the first draft of everything is shit” (thanks Ernest Hemingway) – and wanting to put more time and love into my first draft.

So impart your wisdom upon me writers of the bloggiverse, is it unwise to put too much time into a first draft?

“You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” ― Junot Díaz

PS : Please note – this is in respect of general writing time, not amazing quests such a NaNoWriMo.

10 Days of Blank Pages

10 Days of Blank Pages

“Writers don’t have lifestyles. They sit in little rooms and write.” – Norman Mailer

For the past 10 days, over and above my standard chaotic life I have had a house full of guests. After the first two nights of not getting any writing done, I started getting anxious. The two days after that I started feeling a little resentful. Then I made a conscious decision to put aside my stress and just enjoy the time I was spending with my family. The rest of the days flew by in a blur of activity.

Yesterday afternoon after returning from the airport, the house felt unusually quiet. Possibly a little too quiet. So I put on a movie for the little ones, made some coffee and sat down in front of my laptop. And then I wrote. I wrote until my fingers cramped. And it felt great.

So although I did not manage to fulfil my goal of writing every day I am not letting it hold me back. I feel refreshed. Filled with as much excitement as I did when I wrote those first words of this work in progress.

“It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward. It’s the wonderful part about life. And that’s terrific.” Harvey Fierstein

Be about actions, not distractions

Be about actions, not distractions

“Distractions have never prevented a Writing Writer Who Writes from writing; distractions are an excuse proffered by Non-Writing Non-Writers Who are Not-Writing for why they are not writing.” – Merlin Mann

I think that regardless of how much time you have available to write, that time spent requires absolute focus and no distractions. One of the main challenges for any writer, well any person really, is social media – be it Facebook, Instagram or whatever your poison of choice is, then there is lure of the Internet, the pull of favourite distractions, and let’s not forget the alluring call of the couch. But all that fun comes at a hefty cost… your writing. For me the choice came easily, did I want the distractions, or did I want to write? I chose to write. I do my research during the day. Check all my social media while cooking dinner. Then when it is time to write it all gets left one side and writing takes over.

Unfortunately life will always have its own designs and some disruptions cannot be escaped. Despite my determination to focus on my writing I found that I could only write for about an hour at a time before I was forced to stop, eyes aching and head throbbing. For weeks this has continued. In the back of my mind I had the niggling thought that maybe I need to get my eyes checked but as I have always had perfect eyesight, although grandparents, parents and sibling all wear glasses, I pushed the idea one side. This week I came to the realisation that I suffer with the same symptoms while at work but let’s just say I was a little slow to put two and two together as who wouldn’t get a headache working with politicians! One eye test later it turns out that I do in fact need glasses. Feeling proud of myself – eliminated the “distraction” and did not procrastinate over it either!

Bring on the glasses, returned focus and increased creative productivity!

“Say NO to distractions so you can say YES to your destiny!” – Thema Davis

5 Inspirational Writing Tips – my first reblog

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Staff Member: Kalin W. Founder & Owner of: KDS Millionaire’s Digest Staff Team, Author, Writing Writer Ever wanted to write a book but just didn’t know where to begin? If you love writing stories, nonfiction or fiction, there are signs that you could be the next bestselling author if you decide to write […]

via 5 Ways to Write a Book (3 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest

Enjoy the ride

Enjoy the ride

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” – Beatrix Potter

As a person who loves to travel I have always been a firm believer that a trip should not be so much about the destination but about enjoying the journey itself. And now it would seem that this belief has crossed over into my writing journey as well.

At first my main focus was to finish the first draft of my manuscript. I worked out a word count schedule to get me there, did character layouts and a detailed story outline. But now I find that the more I write, the more I am taking pleasure in the actual creative process of watching my characters develop and seeing the story take shape.

I have developed an appreciation for where I am in my story right now instead of focusing on how far I still have to go and in freeing my mind in this way it has opened the creative door wider than I ever thought possible. In ignoring the pressure to be productive I have become more creative and find myself often writing far more than what my original word count goals prescribed. And then, occasionally, I write less… yet feel the same sense of triumph for the day’s work.

Most of us live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, putting pressure on ourselves to complete tasks as quickly as possible but if we do each thing calmly and with the passion it deserves it will get done faster and with much less stress. I want to enjoy the adventure of writing this manuscript as much as I am hoping to experience a sense of fulfilment once it is completed.

Now is the time to enjoy being ‘here’ without the stress of rushing ‘there’.

“The function of the first daft is to help you figure out your story. The function of every draft after that is to figure out the most dramatic way to tell that story.” – Darcy Pattinson