Category Archives: Special Occassions

Terror week!

So NaNoWriMo came and well it’s not really going. We are ten days into The Challenge and I wasn’t even sure until just now whether I was on track or not. One thing I knew was that I haven’t written for days and I had 9 unread Nanomail.

One of the pep talks informed me that this was the Terror Week of the bunch. By this point all Wrimos are too invested in their characters to come up with an entire new story, however the light at the end of the tunnel is yet to be seen.

I do agree that I am having a terror week, but for somewhat different reasons. I’ve admitted in the past that I am at my core a Capricorn (although a lot of evidence point toward Sagittarius as well, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you would want to find more about that theory here). Life is basically a huge, lonely struggle to the top. During this NaNoWriMo it became so much more apparent how Caps luv (LUV) to make their own life’s way more difficult than it should be.

Yes, you’ve guessed it- I’m writing my novel on paper. Word-count is a bitch, I tell you! I tried to rationalize my strategy by making it a ritual in the hopes that my mind would respond to word count time with a heavy dose of inspiration and strong finger muscles to write it all down. In reality, I spend valuable time counting words which I could have spent actually committing words to paper.

In any case, I did write a couple of hundred words at work this afternoon (the head of legal popped up behind me and glanced at my “work”, but only frowned) and even though I am pretty sure it is cheating, I’m including my blog posts in the word count. Today I updated my word count (it only took me about an hour to count the words in my black moleskin) and I’ve actually reached 8,777 words!

I feel inspired and motivated. So instead of elaborating on how I am planning to reach the 50K target, I am putting away my laptop and grabbing that pen. It pays to update your word count!

Wise words to end the day 😉 Happy writing!

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Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon

NaNoWriMo is upon us!

I must admit that I am more excited than freaked out. Last year I came across the NaNo website by accident. I just followed an online course through Oxford’s continuing education programme and my creative juices were flowing! I was pumped all the way up to mid-October. But come November I was swamped with work, involved with this very intriguing guy and my will to write vanished into thin air.

But this year, I am wiser and infinite more realistic. Realistic, because I accept that in order for me to be a serious writer I have to learn new habits. Like any other journey in life you need certain skills, knowledge, discipline and a great dose of inspiration to be kept motivated. Knowledge you can acquire (I acquire mine mostly through Wikipedia), skills you can develop and perfect and discipline is a habit you can learn. I am wiser, because I googled and found out a couple of tricks to make a new habit stick.

1. Make it a daily– apparently consistency is key. You might have missed the memo (since I haven’t posted for a while), but I am currently seconded to a client of my law firm’s and I went from having an average 55 hour workweek to approx. a 38 hour workweek. I suddenly have all this spare time, I don’t know what to do with it. At first, the only way I could think of passing the time was sleeping off years of sleep deprivation. But now that I am well rested and energized, I thought I might start writing every evening.

2. Start simple & be imperfect– like anything in life, whether it’s learning to walk for the first time, drafting a contract or kicking a bad habit, baby steps is the way to go. And never expect to get it right the first time.  So, I bought myself a black moleskin note book (‘cuz I still believe in remaining stylish whenever possible) and a smooth medium tip ballpoint and just started jotting down whatever popped up in my head. I have these characters and story in my head for years now, so I thought why not start with writing it all down?

3. Form a trigger & stay consistent– I never bought that notion that as human beings we are somehow more sophisticated than our fellow earth dwellers just because we can think. We need a pattern to live by and something to push us to do it, otherwise it will be chaos. When I used to have trouble falling asleep due to all the work stress, someone advised me to think of a ritual for bedtime. Teach your body that it now needs to unwind and get ready for bed. So I did. At first it didn’t work, but I sticked to it and guess what? It worked! Since I am definitely NOT a morning person, I thought it was best to write each evening after I had dinner, watched all my fave tv shows and finished bbm-ing, fb-ing and skyping. That way I feel like I haven’t turned my life upside down (keepin’ it simple as per trick numero 2) and I can stay consistent. Inspired by NaNoWriMo’s word count validation procedure for geeks who write on paper and not on the laptop, I start by counting the words of the pages I wrote the evening before. I re-read some passages and suddenly the words come streaming out.

4. Commit for thirty days– any serial dieter or person struggling with addiction (I would imagine- I diet, but I don’t have a substance abuse issue..yes, lawyers must be able to down large quantities of alcohol. Think of it as a job requirement, not an addiction) would agree that taking that first step is huge, but sticking to it is even huger. They say that it takes -on average- three weeks to make a lifestyle change. My experience with the Cambridge diet (yes, it wasn’t one of my finest moments, but I did look amazing afterwards!) is that the first three days was hell. But with the support from my coach, family and friends I managed to stick to it and after a couple of weeks I developed something not unlike an eating disorder. Suddenly my body could go on for days without real food and I didn’t even feel all that hungry. NaNoWriMo is the best opportunity to try to stick it out- you can buddy someone at random, I plan on joining the weekly write-ins here in Amsterdam and I told everyone I would be doing it and gave them permission to make me feel horribly guilty if I didn’t stick it out.

5. Do it for yourself– yet the most important trick to make a lifestyle change is to do it for yourself. “Shoulds” and “oughts” are great ways to guilt you into living a certain way, but it never lasts. At some point, everyone breaks. But if the will comes from within, that’s unshakable. I want to become a writer, because it’s in me and I can not remember a time in my life I didn’t write. But more than anything, I want to write because it makes me feel good.

So yes, I am taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge and I am doing it for myself. I realize that my word count of 1300 words a day won’t cut it-not by a long shot. But the true prize of the NaNoWriMo competition isn’t to be a winner really (although no one like being a loser right?), it’s about making that lifestyle change. And that, my friends, I am committed to achieve.

Happy Mother’s Day!

...there's only one person who would carry you no matter what...