Writing: Pondering NaNoWriMo 2015 and the act of writing at all

I know it’s a while until November, but experience says it’s never really too early for one to get ready for National Novel Writing Month. For those who might have missed it, NaNoWriMo is an event put on by the Office of Letters and Light that encourages people to write 50,000 words in 30 days in an effort to encourage people to write. It’s a lot more difficult than it might sound, it turns out.

I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo six times starting in 2007 and achieved the 50k word goal in 2010. In fact, achieving that goal in 2010 reinforced for me something I’ve come to realize and have tried to avoid since I started taking writing classes in 2006: I’m not a novelist.

Instead, what I have discovered is that I am a short storiest. A really short storiest. In fact, I’ve found my comfort zone lies at around 2500 words, and writing 10k works feels like trying to move the earth. Why does that matter? Because if one wants to succeed as a writer, the best way to do so is to write to one’s strengths.

Of course, success in writing is relative. Another thing I’ve realized along the way is that my long-time dream of being a successful, published writer is probably just that: a dream. Some might find that sad, but what I’ve realized along the way is that I write because I have to get this stuff out of my head. If someone else likes it, I’m glad, but I like not having these ideas slowly drive me insane even more.

So, what does that mean for NaNoWriMo 2015? Basically, cheating. My plan is to write a thematic anthology of stories, more or less 30 stories in 30 days all centered around a single topic. For me, it’s the best of both worlds: I try to write 50k words in 30 days, but I do it by writing 2700ish word short stories everyday for 30 days.

I’m looking forward to the challenge. And to the relief. More will follow…

DLH

Read more at my Writing site...

Writing: Sharpening one’s focus

I find that it is very easy as a writer to lose one’s focus or to have far too broad of a focus. For me, that lack of focus usually comes from my obsession with writing a novel.

The problem is that–at least I suspect the problem is that–I am not a novel writer in the classic sense of the idea. I cannot nor do I usually sit down and write copious amounts of words every day that can eventually come to represent a novel. Instead, I find that I am more of a vignette writer: someone who write short bursts of fiction, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but rarely of the kind that can be considered a novel.

As a result, I have spun my wheels for almost a decade now trying to finish a novel while some of my widest reaching and most successful works have been short stories that I finished in my characteristic vignette style. Over the past several months, that reality in my writing has come into sharp focus, and I cannot help but pursue the path that focus reveals.

The latter is not to say that I am abandoning my obsession with writing a novel. To the contrary, I am changing my approach to writing a novel that better fits the way I write and why I write that way. The objective remains the same even if the route is different.

So, what is your obsession in writing? What causes you to lose focus? What kind of writing are you the best at? The worst at? What helps you regain your focus?

DLH

Read more at my Writing site...