A few people have asked me recently how my book is going so I thought I’d give you all a little update. It’s going…slowly. In terms of the actual book draft I’ve written just shy of 5,000 words but there has been a lot more writing, planning and plotting going on behind the scenes thank that. You see I’d spent so long procrastinating and having this idea for a book but not actually doing anything with it…and then I kept seeing all these memes and reading books and advice that said ‘just make a start’. So I did, I started. I tried to just start writing but I quickly realised that’s not the approach for me. I’m a planner. In every other part of my life I’m a planner; I make lists and research and organise things; so why would my approach to writing a book by any different? It shouldn’t be. So I’ve had to take a little step back, do a bit of planning, write some character profiles, do some plot planning…it’s a lot of work and I’ll be honest and say that a few times I’ve found myself a little lost but I’m not giving up. Instead, I think I’d like to try taking some classes or workshops to learn more and find some guidance. So if anyone has any recommendations for some good courses I’d love to hear them.
Writing a book is hard. Of course it is, or more people would do it. And I’m trying to find the balance; between staying motivated and not feeling pressured; because at the end of the day I’m doing it because I want to, not because I have to. So whilst it is hard work, it should also be fun.
Any writers out there with any advice, resources or tips on where to from here, I’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever heard the one that goes a little something like this:
There once was a man who used to pray to God every night that he would win tattslotto. He would get down on his knees, look up at the sky and beg God, please God please, let me win tattslotto. And then one night God answered. His big voice boomed down a reply from the heavens above and do you know what he said? Help me out here man, buy a ticket. Ha!
I’ve realised recently that I’ve had exactly the same attitude towards becoming writing a book. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write a book and have that book published. But you see, to make that happen, I would first actually have to write a book. Seems obvious right? Well yes, it is, yet it’s something that I have yet to do, or even give a go really. I mean there was that one (rather feeble) attempt last year for NaNoWriMo but apart from that, my book has been nothing more than an idea, a dream, for many, many years.
So last week, I decided I’ve had enough of waiting, enough of the excuses (enough of praying to God if you will) it was finally time to take action and write the damn book. I announced it on social media; not because I wanted people to pat me on the back, say well done or offer any type of congratulations (though I did get that, which was lovely). No, I actually posted it for accountability. Because I know now that I’ve put it out there people might just ask me from time to time ‘hey, how’s that book of yours going?’ and I want to be able to give an answer that doesn’t entail me looking down at my feet, shrugging and offering some lame excuse as to why I have done anything about it.
Anyone who has read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert would know of her theory about creative ideas having a life of their own. The concept being that ideas find their way and attach themselves to people and if you don’t do anything with those ideas they will move on to someone else. She provides a (quite amazing) story about this great idea for a book she once had that she began to research but then gave up on and never wrote. Years later, another author wrote that book. The exact same story she had planned to write. The concept of the book was very specific, very unique and Liz had never shared the idea; there was no way this other writer could’ve have ‘stolen’ or copied the idea. The thought of that happening to me and my book idea actually scares the crap out of me (wouldn’t I just kick myself if that happened) and has been the final motivation I needed to get started.
So yes, I’m writing a book and it turns out it’s nothing like the book I have always thought I might write. It’s a young adult (YA) fantasy/sci fi…I don’t even really read sci fi, it’s never particularly been my thing, yet there it is. I think I’ve tried for many ideas to ‘come up’ with an idea for a great book and it’s always felt a bit forced. But this one? Well it’s just like Elizabeth Gilbert says; it seems to have a life of its own and has just come to me, out of nowhere and it just keeps coming, shifting and shaping…and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
So yes, I’m writing a book.
What have you been up to lately? Ever attempted to write a book? Ever wanted to?
Last week I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t already know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual online event where participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (November). I’d been thinking about joining in this year (for the first time ever) when a friend posted that she was doing it and encouraged me to do the same. I’ve always wanted to write a book; there’s always been an excuse not to, but right now, I really have no excuse. I’m not working at the moment so I have the time (albeit only about twelve precious hours a week whilst my son is at kinder) and I do have an idea… of course it’s only fear holding me back. But, like my wise friend said I can not do it and still be in the exact same place in a month that I am now or I do it and who knows….at the end of the day at least I will be able to say I’ve tried.
I am under no grand illusions that writing this book will actually lead anywhere, that’s honestly not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it purely for the experience, to see if I actually can do it, to see if I can take the ideas in my head and put them into words, shape them into a story. It’s been so long since I have even attempted to write fiction. I used to do it a lot when I was younger but now I have no idea where to even start! So I’ve been reading some books, (On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont to start) seeking some advice and then last week I received perhaps the best piece of advice of all from published author Wendy Orr who told me “Support like this is fantastic and these books on writing are great but never forget that it’s your own journey and you’ll find your own path as you do it”. And so I’m going to try really hard to remember that when I start my journey next month (thanks Wendy).
Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you joining in this year? Any tips or pieces advice you have for me?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a lover of words; both as a reader and a writer. I guess maybe I get it from my parents. My Mum is an avid reader, she always has a book on her bedside table. Growing up she would read whatever book my sister and I were reading, whether it be for school or pleasure. As adults we still regularly swap books with each other. My Dad, whilst not much of a reader or writer still has a great love for words; through song. He’s known to regularly instruct others to “listen to the words” as he turns up a tune. Growing up my sister and I would endure hours of Elton John in the car. I say endure because back then my sister and I hated it. Now, I have more of an appreciation of good music and don’t mind a bit of Elton John. My Dad always used to always say “Listen to the words. Do you know the story behind this song?” There was always a story. The story behind Tears in Heaven, and Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Needless to say my tiny mind was blown when I really listened to the words of Lola by The Kinks.
As a kid I loved to write stories and as a teenager I used to spend hours writing down the lyrics to songs; I could even manage to find deep meaning in a Limp Bizkit song (true story). I had a little notebook where I would write down my favourite sayings and quotes…I still have it tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Somewhere along the line I forgot about my love for words, I wouldn’t say I lost it because I’m sure it never went away, it was always there just under the surface, I just got a bit distracted by….life. That happens. But the past few years I’ve rediscovered my love of words; I’m reading and writing more than I have before. This year I even started to get paid for my writing…which is both wonderful and weird all at the same time. I try not to get too caught up in that because I know that when money become the reason for things the love can often die and I really don’t want that. I want to keep writing and reading just because I love it and if it that opens up to other things then that’s awesome too.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by one of my all time favourite authors, John Marsden. Growing up my sister and I were obsessed with the Tomorrow When the War Begun series and my Mum joined us in our obsession. We listened to John talk for an hour about writing and words. Something in particular he said really stuck with me. He was talking about children and how they are so open and free in the way they use their words; often mashing them up and inventing new ones. He said we end up squashing that imagination with rules; all the rules about how we must/musn’t use words. We crush their confidence and that can often cause them to retreat. Isn’t that heartbreaking? He gave the example of a time when he took his English class to a cliff face looking out towards the ocean and asked the to write about what they saw. One girl began writing something along the lines of “the sparkling blue ocean…” and John groaned, not only because it wasn’t original but also because that wasn’t what the girl saw at all. In fact, the weather was horrible that day, there was no sun and the storm clouds were rolling in causing the sea to be a menacing dark grey colour. But the girl still described it as ‘the sparkling blue ocean’ probably because she had heard that description so many times before. She couldn’t think outside of the box. I think it’s an important thing for both teachers and parents to remember; to allow our children the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they want, whether that be through words or something else. Let’s not limit their creativity with rules. And as adults let’s do the same. Forget about the ‘rules’ to being a great writer and a perfect blogger, forget about what you should/shouldn’t do, just write. Write for the love of words, because there’s great power to be found in just that.
Are you a word lover? Where do you think it comes from?
Wow, last week was a big one for me and I have to say I’m feeling a bit emotionally drained after it. I published a lot of writing last week and it felt a bit like an emotionally purging of sorts. I shared the epic story of my scoliosis diagnosis; if you missed my posts you can find the whole story here: Part One, Part Two and Part Three. I also had a very personal article My Black Dog published on Her Collective. I wanted to say a big thank you to each an every person who took the time to read my stories. They were hard to write and brought up a lot of feelings but I found the whole process rather cathardic too. Writing has always been a type of therapy for me and getting everything down in words was something I felt I needed to do for some time now. It’s always a bit scary when you put such personal writing into the big wide world; it sort of feels like you’re standing naked in front of a crowd of strangers! But I was overwhelmed by the response and all of the comments, messages and emails I received. They ranged from ‘I’m sorry you went through that’ to ‘I’ve been there too and I understand’ and that’s exactly what I needed hear. I write these things not only for myself but for others who may be going through the same thing. I often think if only one person reads this and feels less alone then it makes it all worthwhile.
So yeah, lots of heavy stuff and it’s made me glad the school holidays are here. We’ve got lots of fun things planned. We’re heading to the Big Freeze Festival and Disney on Ice this weekend and hoping to spend some family time at our caravan down the coast when hubby has holidays next week (yay!) But yesterday, we kicked off the break with a nice slow day; the morning spent in our pjs baking and the afternoon spent crafting and watching movies. Just what I needed.
Anyway, just wanted to pop in today for a quick hello and thankyou and to say if things are a bit quiet around here for the next two weeks it’s because I have a four year old permanently attached to my side!
What have you got planned for the school holidays?