Dec 06 2009
I realized I forgot to post my final post in this series, so here it is a bit belatedly. For my part, I’m planning to return to a more weekly rate on the about-writing posts instead of maintaining a daily rate, but I hope you enjoyed the extra. Other effects for me were that I really liked the challenge to ramp-up my own writing that I took on mid-month, even with the increasingly comedic series of interferences in that plan. I still got several thousand words written and a MUCH better idea of what I’m doing with my novel. (Still re-writing chapter three, and deleting much of what I copy-and-pasted in, but at least theoretically it’ll make for a better story. I’ll report here when I’ve gotten through all that mess.)
Even on the days I’m not writing about it I’m back to talking about it daily, and I have housemates that are genuinely interested and wanting to help my process so that makes things MUCH easier. In addition, I have an awesome inner circle of friend-fans waiting for the next piece to be finished and encouraging me along in their excitement, which also helps a bunch. It’s refreshing to be around people who are stimulated by rather than threatened by other folks’ creative pursuits. I nearly always find myself inspired to new ideas when I see the beautiful creations of the lovely people I’m blessed to know. If you’ve been struggling with staying the course on your own creative work, consider some of these options if you don’t have them already. Steven Brust thinks that it would benefit every writer to have someone who gazes adoringly at them with the attitude of “wow, you are the Best Writer Ever.” He got a dog, which works quite well for this. If you don’t already have a dog or room for one, try finding a parent, lover, or awesome friend with a similar attitude. Sure, critiques have their place and usefulness, but sometimes the “wow someone thinks I’m totally awesome!” feeling helps more than any constructive criticism.
Another angle to try is to break the writer trope of the solitary artist locked with their computer into a room to scribe Art for the Ages. If you’re repeatedly getting stuck in the word mire on your own routines, take a different path. If you have portable word processing capabilities, try out a variety of different venues for writing in public. The most common places are bookstores and coffee shops; a quiet restaurant that isn’t obsessed with table turn-over might also work. In nicer weather, a park or picnic could be a refreshing and inspiring change of scene. Heck, even try different rooms in your own home, or setting up (in nice weather) in your backyard.
A compatible community of creative folk is another valuable resource. Whether you have a more formal writer’s group, or a more informal collective of artists wanting to support each other in their endeavors, or a full-on collaborative project, the exciting things that can happen when multiple creative minds meet together in the same “space” is exhilarating. Quite often it’s the equivalent for your creative flow of slamming down a four-pack of energy drinks. If you’re isolated enough that all you can do is an online equivalent of this, then try that. I was active for several years in an online writer’s group that is sadly not very active any more, but was quite helpful and enjoyable for a long while. Some of us met in person a couple of times, but it was mostly online and worked really well that way. I would expect that recent interfaces such as Google Wave and the like are quite useful places to try and set up such an endeavor. However, for any of you that can, I’d recommend trying some in-person creative jam sessions as well. I’m not so 20th century as to rant against online community or its usefulness, but I’m realistic enough to note that the benefits one derives online are certainly different in many aspects from those you get with in-person creative brainstorming. I think they’re complimentary, and I’ve noticed it feels better when I perceive myself to have both in-person and online creative support. So ask around, figure out which of your friends you enjoy being around who also want creative support, and form your own “artist’s collective” where you meet up regularly and each work on your own creative projects; or perhaps more focused brainstorming sessions, where you each get some group time to help bash through a stuck spot on whatever project you’re creating at the moment. There are multiple options that work based on the individuals involved; however you decide to, remind yourself that it is work worth doing.
I’m interested to hear about the experiences of those of you who tried NaNoWriMo (or a modified variant of it) this year. It’s so easy, especially if you didn’t make your goal, to just drop the subject and slink back into the not-creating land from whence you arose. So I challenge each of you who tried it, to comment either here or in your own journal, and give a report! Document what worked as well as what didn’t. Note at least three things you learned about yourself and your writing. Look the really hard thing you attempted head-on; not as “I failed”, but “I tried something really big and am not ready yet. How can I get more ready for next time?”