Good Times, and the Bad

August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

I remember once, a few years ago, I told a friend about how disappointed I was that I had been getting no writing done. After all, it was the summer holidays, and while during the school term I had the excuse of y’know, homework, study, and exams, there was nothing to stop me from pursuing my writing over the three month long summer holidays.

My friend said to me that sometimes you get drained as a writer. And you need the time to actually dawdle and come back to it. At the time, I was much younger. I didn’t quite understand it. I was still adamantly annoyed at myself – at my lack of motivation and self-discipline. I’m sure I spent hours over my writing notebook trying to get the words out. Hours that would have probably been better spent elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you absolutely need to just sit down and write, no matter your lack of motivation or inspiration. Sometimes that’s just what necessary. But what my friend told me about being drained is also true. There are times where you just need to give yourself a pass, and take an extended break. notes-514998_960_720

I’m telling you this because… you guessed it! I needed an extended break, because I was drained. I basically spent a month writing accessively. Not just working on a new project, but also doing collaborative and freelance work – along with my normal, everyday teaching job. Safe to say, afterwards I was wrecked, and I didn’t even really realise it.

This past while, I’ve been trying to take it slower. I’m working on some writing, but it’s been very unsteady. I do want to come back to this blog, because ever since I started it, I’ve always felt comfortable coming back here and writing – no matter how long I’ve left it (And I’ve left it for quite a while in a few instances!).

But in any case, this wasn’t just for me. I guess if you’re a writer too, or an artist of any kind, and you’ve been having a bit of a dry spell… don’t feel too disheartened. Take a deserved break and hopefully you’ll come back feeling much better.

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The Instant Gratification of Novel Writing

May 30, 2016 § 2 Comments

I think for anybody who is an avid writer, the realisation that there is no instant gratification in writing is pretty obvious. There are no shortcuts in it, no matter how high and low you search for them. To have completed pieces of work in front of you, you need to sit down and actually write. And after that you need to edit. And then you probably need to re-write. Edit again. So on and so forth. There is nothing quick and easy about it.

So it can get a little bit frustrating when this exact skill of being a writer seems to completely fly over the heads of other people, no matter how much you try to explain this detail to them. People who expect novels to come out willy-nilly as if you can extract them out of thin air (I wish I could!), without a second thought.

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When people talk about the “gifts” and “talents” required for things like writing or art… I feel they also indulge in this idea of instant gratification. Yes, there is such a thing as talent, but honing in talent also requires a lot of sweat, blood and tears; hours of hard work and concentration. I know people are trying to be supportive, which I appreciate, but it’s a bit difficult to be appreciative when people expect you to be producing work without encouraging you to actually put in the time.

Has anybody had similar experiences with people?

Middle of the road

May 23, 2016 § 2 Comments

Writing is kind of like a journey. Sometimes, you know the destination. You know exactly where your characters are headed. You can’t wait until you get there. You get impatient. You take short-cuts to get there faster. Sometimes, the destination is irrelevant when you begin. It’s about the journey, the exploration. You’ll figure out the destination along the way.9354795341_c70a62843c_n

And on the road, your characters learn, they change, they grow. Whether you know the destination or not, the journey itself changes everything.

But like with journeys, the middle of the road is perhaps the most difficult. You’ve been at it for hours, days, weeks… you want the results already!

Right now, I’m in the “middle of the road” of my current writing project, and its difficult to pick up the momentum, to keep the excitement of the beginning where my writing seemed to flow so freely. I’m beginning to let the doubts seep in, to begin scrutinising every word and sentence. It’s difficult to stop that. But sometimes you have to let the destination motivate you.

photo credit: One person walking via photopin (license)

 

Guest Post: on writing poetry

May 17, 2016 § 2 Comments

We spend a good deal of our lives waiting, like Adiba patiently did, after I agreed to write a guest post, then had so many other things commandeer my time.

Poetry doesn’t often make me wait, mostly I’m rushing to catch up:  writing the last line I can remember, then working backwards line by line, pulling them back from the land of lost poetry , words that got away . . . all while I was looking for pen and paper.

Found phrases poetry works differently.  I choose background paper and start flipping through magazines; the next words jump out, make themselves obvious, and I clip them.  Maybe they’re next or maybe they’ll be a few lines later, but they’re “in.”  Only seldom do I decide, “No, you’re not the right words after all, I’ll save you for another poem.”

I’ve known April as poetry month for a long time and was introduced to the concept of The National Poetry Writing Month Challenge #NaPoWriMo in 2015 when a friend challenged me to write 30 poems in 30 days.  I wrote found phrase poems and haiku.  This year I challenged myself, then caught walking pneumonia.  I wrote some really bad poetry and a few I’m actually proud of.  Next year I’ll be back to do it again.  Meanwhile the pressure to produce is off and I’m back to writing poetry when inspiration compels me, not just the dawn of a new day.

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This post, and subsequent poem, was very kindly contributed by Amy.

Some Pinteresting writing…

May 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

I remember when Pinterest first started becoming popular, and I decided to join the bandwagon, see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t last more than a few minutes, browsing around and trying to find the fascination that many had found within the website.

Years later, it’s actually developed into an incredibly useful tool for my own writing. Other than an amalgamation of different writing cheat sheets and tools that crop up when you type in anything writing related into Pinterest’s search bar, I have also begun using the website to build storyboards for my novels. This is helpful in the starting process of my writing, in order to develop some sort of a vision for what I’m looking for. It’s also helpful when I’m flabbergasted mid-novel as, again, it helps sort out your vision, perhaps in ways that you wouldn’t have imagined otherwise.

It may not be for everyone but it has been an ever-useful tool in my own writing process. Here’s a preview of a few of my storyboards:

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Have you used Pinterest for your writing? Are there any other similar websites that you have found helpful?

Reading to write…

May 6, 2016 § 4 Comments

For the past while,  I’ve felt very blocked in my creative pursuits. Other than NaPoWriMo, which I think we can all agree was not the best writing I’ve done, trying to write has seemed a little like a chore. I know that I should write, I know that I need to write, but I’ve found it extremely difficult to get excited about the prospect of what I’m writing.books-690219_1280

Sure, there have been days when I’ve begun writing and looked up only hours later, having written up pages and pages of a story; completely lost in my own world. But these days have been few and far in-between. And worse, after coming out of my reverie, my writing has seemed dissatisfactory, at best, and just plain awful, at worst. All in all, not the outcome I was wishing for.

I thought, perhaps the reason for my “writer’s block” (so to speak) has been caused by my draining, new teaching job that I’m only slowly getting used to. And maybe that is part of the reason why. Then again, when I’ve had time off from my job, I have felt equally as blocked from my writing. At times, during my holidays, I’ve felt even worse about my lack of writing because I think, “I’m not working, so what exactly is stopping me?” person-1281536_640

All of this, has resulted in a lot of frustration and… actually, some productivity. For the past while, I’ve been reading almost… excessively. I mean, maybe kid me, who used to read a book a day like it was nothing wouldn’t think I was reading excessively, but adult me who finds it difficult enough to squeeze an average-length book into a week while studying, working etc., definitely finds it a tad excessive. But as always, I’ve found that inspiration, and motivation, can be found in the oddest of places. My latest read, Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Virgin Suicides” has led to a strange spark in my mind.
Today, after finishing the novel, I sat down and wrote 2,000 words in one hour-long sitting. 2,000 words… most of which I actually kind of liked! That hasn’t happened in quite a while. I also began a little plan for where this new writing project could potentially be going. And when dinner time rolled around, I actually felt disappointed about closing up my laptop and leaving the new world of my latest writing project behind.

I guess this, too, is quite new. And maybe the excitement will dry up soon, though I do hope not. For now, I’ll go back to my writing with a new-found vigour!

The Finish Line – NaNo Week 4

November 30, 2015 § 2 Comments

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareAfter many writing slumps and days spent feeling genuinely quite awful about how my writing was going, I did eventually end up getting to the finish line. The great thing about working on a collection of short stories for NaNo this year, is that I could actually finish up in 50,000 words, instead of getting to the 50k mark and thinking, “well, gosh, another 50k – maybe more – and I might finally be finished this book!” It was nice to have a sense of finality with this project.

Today is the last day of November and to everybody who has already hit the 50k mark, well done! You guys deserve a pat on the back and probably a good long sleep. To everybody who is still striving for that 50k, you can totally do it! And to everybody who has struggled their way through and knows they aren’t going to get to the 50k mark by midnight tonight, a well done to you too! NaNoWriMo has always been about writing and to write even a thousand words that you wouldn’t have otherwise, is an achievement!

Hope NaNo went well for you guys and here’s to another good NaNo next year!

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