Tag Archives: novel writing

Two Steps Forward…

More of that Writing Amidst Life stuff today.

Two hour delay; breakfast with husband; the lure of fine writing implements

The kids had a half day yesterday because of The Blizzard That Never Was, and I not only negotiated some writing time with the Husband, but used it productively to add 1400 words to a scene in the novel.

Today I had more time at my disposal and managed to sit and stare at the scene for quite a lot of it. I figured out my problem, though, which is something: I need to know what the heroine’s story goals at this point in the story. It’s a waste of my time to just add more words to the scene if they don’t serve the overall story. So I did some background writing to figure out what she needs to figure out at this point.  That sounds very clever and it would have been, had I not succeeded in completely confusing myself. Time to go back to my notes, It think.

But this is the absolute worst time of the day for met to try to make decisions, so I’m going to send a few emails and try to get back to this later. Or tomorrow. But at least knowing what the problem is, now.

Sheesh!

Current projects/priorities/progress:

  1. Finish draft of the novel (so I can revise it for the critique group) – Getting there. Have added, since last week, about 4000 words in three different scenes, building towards the climax. Huzzah!
  2. Post weekly Write On Wednesday prompts to StoryADay – No progress, but I have three weeks’ worth in the bank
  3. Start prepping for April’s build-up to StoryADay – Wrote a Thursday Feature Article about Turning Up At The Page
  4. Non-fiction book proposal No progress
  5. Reading –  Um…
  6. Regular column for other site – Really very little progress unless you count what I do  in the next 30 minutes…
  7. Planning – Captured a list of Things I Want To Do This Year. It’s quite a lot, and now it’s all organized and in a Google Document that I can update from year to year. Fun!

Which Creative Challenge Is Best For You?

"My Writing Life" by Olivander

My Writing Life By Olivander

Creative Challenges are great for shaking up the routine, forcing you to be creative every day or every week, and flexing those imagination muscles.

What is a creative challenge?

National Novel Writer’s Month is probably the most ambitious and famous creative challenge: write a novel in a month (November). The idea is to challenge yourself to create something and to silence the inner critic by putting a time-limit on the project. NaNoWriMo is fantastically popular for such an ambitious project (some authors have even turned their ‘crappy first drafts’ into published novels). But extreme novel-writing isn’t for everyone.

Other creative challenge stipulate that you create every day for a year, or on a certain day of the week or the month. Maybe you share it, maybe it’s private. It might involve public accountability (posting online) or it could work on the honour system. Sometimes there are forums, sometimes events, and sometimes it’s just something you commit to.

Tips for Taking Part

  • Decide on your own version of the rules before you start – if you miss a day of a monthly challenge, can you forgive yourself? Do you have to make it up? Do you quit?
  • Revise your rules as you go along – these challenges are meant to help you foster creativity, not become a chore. If, half way through, you realise it’s not working, or you’ve already got what you need, you can change your rules or drop out. If you need to be more strict, make more strict rules.
  • Do connect with other people taking part – they can inspire you, keep you honest, and cure some of the isolation artists often feel
  • Don’t get sucked into too much online chatter – the point of this creative challenge is to free you to create more, not find another place you can waste time
  • Make it a priority – most of these challenges take commitment for a small amount of time. (NaNoWriMo takes up a lot of time but only for a month. Project 365 commits you to a daily creative act for a year, but it can be as little as a few seconds a day.) Make the most of the challenge by making it a priority. You might have to drop something else during the challenge. (That’s why it’s called a challenge). If you have to skip your daily Simpsons rerun to free up half and hour for creativity, is that too high a price?

Here are a few creative challenges, but please comment with details of others you have heard about.

For Writers

100 Drabbles of Summer
http://community.livejournal.com/charloft/2125606.html

Hosted in a livejournal community, this is a group of writers who are aiming for 100×100 words stories this summer. Yes, each! Even if you miss the official start, I’m sure you can join in late.

Poem A Day (April)
http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides

Hosted by Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer. Every day Brewer posts a prompt at his site. Poets post their poetic response in the comments. Fascinating reading, even if you aren’t a poet.

StoryADay in May
www.storyaday.org

Hosted by yours truly, this turned into a wonderful community of writers who helped each other through the Herculean task of writing A Story A Day. It’ll be an annual event, so sign up now for the newsletter!

100 Words.net
www.100words.com/about.php

One of my first and favourite creative challenge sites. Write 100 words a day for a month. No more, no less. It is surprisingly challenging, doesn’t take up great wodges of time, and still keeps you on the look out for inspiration every day.

National Novel Writing Month
www.nanowrimo.org/

The big daddy of writing challenges: write a 50,000 words novel in November. Why November? Because the originators thought it was a good idea to do this in a month with a long weekend built in. (I might have voted for one with a holiday that didn’t have lots of social obligations – Memorial Day, perhaps, or President’s Day – but I guess they were young and unmarried at the time).

NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month
http://nablopomo.ning.com/

Like NaNoWriMo, this challenges writers. This time it’s a blog post a day. You can join the network at ning.com or just post in your own blog. Each month has a theme and you can email the creator to be added to each month’s blog roll. I found some good blog friends by browsing the blogroll one month.

Script Frenzy
www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/whatisscriptfrenzy

Write 100 pages of scripted material during April. This one has sponsors and prizes.

Writers’ Weekly Quarterly 24 hr Short Story Contest
http://www.writersweekly.com/misc/contest.php

Write a short story on a given topic in 24 hrs. This contest has a $5 (US) entry fee and takes place every quarter. First prize is $300. Limited to 500 participants and it usually fills up. The next one is April 24, 2010.

For Visual Artists

Illustration Friday
http://www.illustrationfriday.com/index.php

This was probably the first creative challenge I was aware of online, and I’d guess it has been running for at least a decade. They provide a weekly word/theme, you illustrate and send them a thumbnail and a link to your illustration. There are forums and interviews and lots of great art to look at.

Project 365
http://365project.org/

Take a picture every day. Photography site Photojojo has this article to help.

A Photo A Day
http://www.aphotoaday.org/

This one is actually a mailing list and a blog, with a picture chosen by the editors every day, but you can submit yours and keep your fingers crossed.

Art Every Day
http://creativeeveryday.com/art-every-day-month

Inspired by NaNoWriMo, Leah Piken Kolidas decided to declare November Art Every Day month for artists. She has a nice Rules (That Were Made To Be Broken) section, which appeals to me. Join her!

For Musicians

The RPM Challenge -Record an album in 28 days, just because you can.
www.rpmchallenge.com/content/view/844/1/

(Write and) record an album of original music in February. 10 tracks or 35 minutes of music. The creators say (and I agree) “Don’t wait for inspiration – taking action puts you in a position to get inspired… February will come and go whether you’ve joined in or not, but do you really want to be left out? ”

General Creativity

The “Create Every Day” Challenge
http://creativeeveryday.com/creative-every-day-challenge

Choose your creative outlet, use (or ignore) the monthly theme, browse the work of other participants, listed in the sidebar. From the site: “This is a low pressure challenge, with the idea of bringing more creativity into our lives. I will not be the creativity police. I hope that we can all find ways, simple and grand to express our creative selves. Have fun with it!”