No, this isn’t a post about the 1970s/80s sitcom “Mork and Mindy.” Simply, I couldn’t resist using the bad pun as the title of this post. It is, though, a blog post about writing, story ideas and a great way to develop discipline in getting one’s first draft completed.
A few weeks ago I posted a blog that offered suggestions to battle writer’s block and to keep oneself writing when the proverbial brick wall is too high to vault, too wide to get around and too thick to smash through. At the time, I was having a hard time putting words on paper. Getting the ideas - the scenes - in my head into a readable first draft was too much of a chore.
I decided to revamp one of my screenplays into a novel to jumpstart my engines. I’m glad that my reverse adaptation - let’s face it, usually it’s a book that becomes a script and not the other way around - is going well but, in some ways, it’s going too well. This time of year is usually my least productive as a writer. With a teaching job that pays the bills, I’m usually swamped with assignments to grade, workshops to attend and faculty meetings to attend. I’m also a volleyball coach and the volleyball season in New Jersey takes place in the fall. With practices, matches, Saturday tournaments that run all day and bus rides to and from other schools, I don’t normally have the time to write. This year isn’t much different. I still don’t have the luxury of getting to my keyboard immediately after school. What is different, however, is the way my brain is working. The normal resignation I give myself that I’m not going to get much writing done from August to November usually shuts the literary creative part of my brain down until the end of the volleyball season. This year, at least within the last two or three weeks, my brain has been on overdrive.
And, this is a good thing. It’s a writer’s greatest fear wondering if he has another story to tell after putting out his first novel. Lately, I don’t have that worry because I’ve been popping with ideas. I know they’re only ideas and that they may not blossom into a full story, whether as part of a short story collection or as a full length novel, but at least my mind is turned on and creating. The problem now, though, is which one to focus on. I still subscribe to my tactic of switching between projects when I’m stumped on the one I’m focusing on and turn to another to keep my creative juices flowing. So, with all these ideas popping in my head, right now, I’m spoilt for choice. I do, though, want - need - one project to be my main WIP (work-in-progress).
To get to tere, I’m trying another new thing. I’m joining NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, you can get the specs and register at NaNo’s website by clicking on the NaNo image at the top of this post. Basically, though, it’s a pledge to finish a first draft of a book in thirty days. You’re allowed to preplan and even write before the month starts but, ultimately, it’s a way of having fun with one’s writing (hopefully it’s always fun, though) and blasting through one’s inhibitions and getting a story written. I’m hoping that NaNo - and my publicly stating that I’m doing it - will get my active creative juices to take charge and help creative discipline in my writing endeavours. For me, it’s about getting a first draft written. Once I have that, I find the revisions and editing relatively easy because there’s something to revise. Creating, in my opinion, is always harder.
I have to thank James Scott Bell, though, for pushing me into doing NaNo this year. I read his blog post about it this morning and, while I’ve known about NaNo for years, it’s always been something I felt was too big, overwhelming and scary to undertake. I took almost ten years, after all, to write, revise and publish my debut novel, Back Kicks And Broken Promise. In fact, the idea of banging out a first draft in a month still scares the junk out of me but I’m going to give it a go and have at it. If I don’t get it done, I’ll at least learn something about myself.
So, while I have lots of ideas jotted down on paper and in the Notes app of my iPhone, for the NaNoWriMo I am going to commit to just one idea and plow through it. I’ll keep you posted on how I do and, for those of you joining NaNo as well, I wish you good luck and happy writing.
30 days, 300,000 writers, 50,000 words.