Tag Archives: focus

NaNoWriMo 2014: Preparing, Week 2: Write-In

The general consensus for any activity is typically that it’s better done with more than just yourself. Sure, you can go it alone, but is it nearly as fun? And is it at helpful as having a good environment of people who help each other with the same interest?

Write-ins, held throughout the month by the municipal liaison (also known as a sort of leader figure for the region you’re a part of) and other wrimos in the area, can be about meeting others as much as about writing as much as possible in an environment that pulses with enthusiasm and encouragement.

They are especially great for extroverts and people who don’t mind the company, whether it’s simply having more presence or actively talking.

Even as an introvert, getting out and meeting other writers has always been exciting to me because sometimes, it feels like an exclusive club, and those who don’t write don’t exactly understand what or why I do what I do. Acceptance, a place that doesn’t make you feel left out. It’s nice, and so were a lot of the people I met at my first outings.

One thing that write-ins remind me of is a phenomenon seen in runners, where if you run slow, and you have a friend that comes along with that has a higher pace, you’ll see an increase in your own performance to keep up. It’s personal motivation to keep going: If the person sitting beside you has 10k words on the first day and still counting, it makes you want to push harder, and focus more.

Though there’s always the possibility of focus being lost. When you spend the time talking to others instead of working, mostly, it doesn’t entirely defeat the purpose, but it does hinder your wordcount.

Kick off parties, whether at midnight on November 1st or later in the day or week, are especially exciting, typically, and you might get some goodies for it (stickers, a calendar for what days you’ve completed as you go through the month, and other small things).

Most-all of these, by the way, are organized via the forums for your region on Nanowrimo.org.

Along with meeting new people at write-ins, you gain a support group, which can also hold true for the online community just as well, if you have friends all over the country, or even the world, who participate with you. You have people to trade experiences with and relate to, someone else to laugh with and bounce ideas and thoughts off of.

For this case, I remember an article from someone or somewhere about non-writers viewing your work and why it’s a bad idea… ( I have been looking for this godforsaken thing for thirty minutes and turning up empty handed still. I WILL find it. It will be here shortly…)

Of course, these gatherings are totally optional. You could spend all November curled up in the safety of your house without a care in the world, but it gives you a chance to get out and meet others if that’s what you like. Personally, knowing there are people like me, locally, who I can connect with, is exciting, most of my friends close by aren’t writers.

I did want to touch again on the online friend groups again, though, because the idea for this post sprouted from a facebook post that got some attention. I know a few people (and encouraged a couple) to do NaNoWriMo this year, and after becoming writing buddies on nanowrimo.org, I got really excited. For the first time, I had a group bigger than two or three people (myself included) that were going to write all through November. I have more people to talk to about the small writer’s blocks and the flash burn outs and the wordcount I surprised myself with, the writing frenzy I got into, or feeling stuck.

Friend is always there with me for Nano, of course, but sometimes, don’t you just feel the need to talk to people and geek out outwardly?

I guess in a way, that is the essence of Nanowrimo write-ins: to geek out with fellow writing geeks and to feel like you have a place to go, if you want.

Some people are more comfortable with staying in or away from it. For those who aren’t, November holds the potential for dozens of opportunities to meet, greet, and geek.

-The Novice Wordsmith

The Melody that Carries the Story

Music and story-telling go together like wine and cheese. You can have one without the other, but putting them together makes for a delicious pairing.

It’s something you grow up with, mostly in movies, but have you ever been in the car, listening to the radio, or at a friend’s house, listening to one of their obscure CDs, and paused. “That’s brilliant!” maybe crossed your mind to say, because you couldn’t help but watch your mind explode with the images and scenes the concerto or the beat or the harmony of the singer’s voice was giving you.

“Writing for the music,” is a phrase that came up recently, and it’s a good way to describe it. When you hear the song and you get inspired to write a sex scene or a horror scene or a fight scene. Then, when the song is over, or the initial inspiration dries up, it’s over and gone and that’s all it takes, if you don’t get it out sooner.

It’s something I’m fighting with writing horror for November, because I always wrote for the song that I was listening to, which was dirty and dark, and, in the end, had no real purchase or true emotion to it. When I looked back at it later, it sounded hokey and wrong, nothing felt stable.

Then there are the songs that don’t overwhelm you temporarily like that, that strike on a deeper level and get your brain running in a different direction. It’s like the background music for a scene you can see clearly, and it only enhances it more, plus, instead of being fleeting, it’s always there like a good memory. The song instead reminds you of something, it makes you think instead of pulling you under with a burst of sound and sight.

On the other hand, music can tend to be a nuisance for those who don’t care for noise. Nothing sounds better than shutting the door and getting so much quiet that your thoughts are louder than your surroundings.

Then there are those who thrive with it. Who derive their focus and their motivation from a peculiar or particular song, something that catches their ear and helps them follow along. Having a melody in the background can improve attentiveness, the beat giving them something to focus on with their typing or writing.

It sets a mood, for the scene, and when it’s not what you’re writing for, it’s what you’re writing to, helping you feel the sensuality or the adrenaline or the cool air of the mountain.

Music can help you establish the mood and atmosphere, to better pull in the reader if you do it correctly. Trying to describe the feeling you have for the scene, using descriptive words that bring them right into the room or onto the cliff side or at the gala. It adds to the tools you can use to enrich the story.

It’s as useful a tool as any research or little bits of information that you want to implement.

As long as it’s not a bother to your writing, that is. Or somehow you hate music. Which, I don’t think I’ve found a person who does. There’s just a time and a place for everyone to enjoy it.

Another thing about music for me had been, through the years of roleplay, where friends would talk about the theme songs for their characters, based on songs they loved or the lyrics specifically, or maybe just the way it sounds. Have you ever had a song that just clicks for a character or a set of characters?

It’s such a wide thing to explore, where the possibilities seem endless. The same songs that help motivate you in physical activity (running, swimming, boxing, etc.), can help push along a thought or an idea that sparked as a result or before then.

All of this reminds me of something I’d heard back in “The Enjoyment of Music” in college. The Doctrine of Affections was something written in the Baroque period, a theory that music can evoke emotions involuntarily (Source). Which, to me, makes sense, especially looking back at it. It makes you feel something, a slow, deep tune makes you sad, and a high pitched, fast song makes you want to dance. Harder songs make you want to thrash, typically.

It lends to writing and action or lack thereof, and to what goes on around us, the visual and the audio and the taste and touch and smell. It holds on and doesn’t let go until the song is over. It’s why we need to hear it again, because it’s so provocative in its own way. To listen, over and over until we finally have everything that it’s given us down in a story or a chapter, in a character and their mannerisms, in the landscape, or the scene.

Music is as much a part of writing as it is a part of us, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Would you?