Writing vs Life

When you’re writing, life inevitably gets in the way.

There’s all kinds of distractions that keep you away from the keyboard/notepad. Sometimes this may be procrastination (like surfing the internet) or obligation (like going to work). Regardless of what distracts you from your writing, you’ve got to strike some sort of balance… find time to write!

But often it is hard, with those all-important things that you have to take care of! For a start, you have bodily functions to acknowledge, like eating, drinking and *ahem* going to the toilet, which can be very distracting if you have rooted yourself to a writing spot. On the other hand, as I have found when I am often “in the zone”, your bodily functions can mysteriously subside… they seem to understand your plight and leave you be! Also, there’s sleep.. sleep will always defeat you in the end, no matter how good your plotline is!

Beyond your bodily functions is other necessary chores and rituals of life, such as shopping, cleaning up, showering, going to work. All of them take time out of the day. All of them detract from writing.

And then there are the voluntary things that chisel away at your time. For most people these days, that is probably the internet. People use the internet for all different reasons, whether that be for watching funny videos of cats, social networking or.. *ahem ahem* sordid matters. As Anonymous said, “Being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet”, which I totally agree with! It’s so hard to stop yourself browsing Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and all the rest of them; often you find yourself browsing without realising you’re doing it, much in the same way that a person can passively watch television.

Speaking about television, that iconic little distraction box that has pervaded modern life for over six decades… I don’t have one. That might seem strange to some people, but I just catch up with my favourite shows online. It is much better to be an active viewer and choose to watch select things, rather than channel-flick for the sake of it!

There’s people too. Those billions of people that we share the planet with! Usually, some of those little blighters feature in your life, don’t they? Whether it be a partner, family, friends, associates or work colleagues, people take up your time. However, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary, it is important to interact with this world. The vast majority of stories feature people, thus you have to observe and experience life in order to accurately write about it. Also, it’s good to be sociable; nobody should be alone!

Somebody on Twitter called Ksenia Anske (‏@kseniaanske) said that “To be able to write a novel you have to be willing to fall out of life for 1 year and not let anyone sway you.” I agree with this to an extent, because you must be willing to devote your time to writing and have the determination to work it into your life’s routine. Nevertheless, I think that life’s distractions help to equip you with depicting real life in your work; even if your book is a fantasy or science fiction, it will still feature influences and concepts that you have learned from Planet Earth.

So writing vs life. I suppose it is a symbiotic relationship: life influences your writing, and writing can enrich your life. The two must somehow coexist, which requires stringent time management! If you want to write, in spite of life’s distractions, then I wish you the best of luck!

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NaNoWriMo: The Pros and Cons

For anybody interested in writing, then NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) could be the thing for you!

But “what is NaNoWriMo?” I hear some of you cry! Essentially, it is a challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. People from all around the world take part and chart their progress on the Nano website. Also, there are local groups where you can meet up with other Nano writers for moral support and a good old chinwag.

So yeah, I did the challenge last November and it’s one of the best things I ever did! I already had my story all planned out, ready to be written, but I was tinkering around with little ammendments, rather hesitant to actually start… I think was afraid that my writing wouldn’t be good enough! But then I heard about Nano, the challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month, and thought: it’s now or never baby!

What the Nano challenge did was give me a mighty kick up the arse. The pressure of having a deadline, of telling people you have committed yourself to a challenge, really makes you want to succeed. So you keep on writing no matter what, even if some days you are churning out complete shite.

It was often hard to meet the 1667 daily target. Nonetheless, I persisted and thoroughly enjoyed seeing my story emerge on paper. To escape into a different world, to spill your crafted prose onto a blank page, to control your characters… these are the joys of writing. Only through writing can you determine if you enjoy it, and in November, I reawakened my passion.

In the end, I finished the challenge on 40k. This may not have been the 50k target, but I made the executive decision to slow down in the name of decent quality (to reach the target on time, I would have had to spew out shite). The roughness of the first draft (often called the zero draft because it is so messy) can be an issue for perfectionists, though the idea is that once you have got down all your words on paper, you can redraft and polish the piece to your heart’s content. If you can get over that inner editor, then you’re laughing!

Three months later, I’m still writing, though not as intensely. Without the pressure of Nano’s daily word count, and the pressure of completing a challenge, you naturally write less. However, I am proud to say that I am still making good progress, all thanks to the kickstart from Nano!

Thanks Nano!

“On the road”!

Hey guys,

This blog is looking a little empty right now, right? I plan to remedy that with immediate effect! I’m Nick by the way. Nice to meet you!

Firstly, may I congratulate you on reaching this far-flung corner of the internet (really, well done!). I guess the main aim of this blog is to supplement my writing journey, because currently I am writing my first book, so it would be nice to share that experience. In addition to that, I am sure I will blog about other random endeavours and interests along the way!

But yeah, so far I’d say I have done about a third of my book. I started in November and can quite confidently say it is one of the best things I have ever done. I have enjoyed writing since childhood and yet I have never written a full novel; so now that I am actually “on the road”, in the throes of writing a full-length book, I have confirmed to myself that it really is something I enjoy doing. That’s a relief.. because there’s only so much you can claim to like writing (when you’re not actually writing) before you begin to sound like a fraud! Hence this book was a do or die attempt to determine whether or not I was a writer.

I now know the answer!