Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Nanowrimo and Parenting or Again

Again, by Rowena Murillo

The first time I did nano, I had a one year old and I was pregnant with my second. I went through the infant stages, the toddler stages, preschooler, kindergartner, early elementary and now the mid grade years. Every year, I managed to keep them alive and fed and relatively clean and happy. Nine years later and I have attempted nano every year and only failed the year I also moved cross country in November.

The thing about nanowrimo is that life never gets out of the way for it. Every year, it's the holidays. Every year, there are technical difficulties with family and work and living and health and relationships and money and time. Every single year. I've moved in November, twice. Last year I got separated in November. I've struggled with the flu. I've needed to find a new job.

The other thing about nanowrimo is that if you keep going, if you keep putting one word down after the other, if you keep giving yourself 15 minutes, half an hour, nap time, the minutes while the chicken is baking, an afternoon while grandma babysits, an hour after the kids go down for the night, if you keep giving yourself that time to write and you actually do it, you will succeed.

Make the time. Keep writing. Don't judge yourself. Don't edit. Sit down and write. Find the time. Commit. Just do it. Write. In little bits and drabbles or in long bingeing periods where you forget to eat and neglect your kids (actually don't neglect your kids, just pawn them off on someone else) just keep writing.

Nanowrimo tells me that over the course of the last 9 years, I have written over half a million words during nanowrimo. That's right. 500,000 words. And that's not counting the work I've done outside of November, the new work, the research, the outlining, the editing, the revising. I actually have one full, finished final manuscript that I am sending out to agents. And I have become a much better writer for all the effort.

As parents, we might not have as much free time as other nanowrimo participants. We might have more responsibilities and sticky handed time bandits, but we also know what matters in life. We know what matters to us. We know that if we want something, we have to take care of it.

So the first question to ask yourself at the beginning of nanowrimo is this: how much do you want it?

The second question to ask is what will you to do take care of it?

Monday, October 05, 2015

How To Reappear

How To Reappear: Listen To Your Heart Beating, by Rowena Murillo

The process of coming back from a fallow creative period can be very difficult.

Uhm, like, REALLY difficult.

I think we do a lot of self flagellation over not being able to create. Hand wringing, hair pulling, shirt rending. Metaphorically, I hope.

If you're an artist, shouldn't it be EASY to create? Shouldn't it come naturally? Shouldn't it be something you want to do and like doing? Shouldn't it be fun?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. It should.

Except for when it isn't. Because sometimes creating is hard and it's like pulling teeth and you want to avoid it because it is facing things you really don't want to confront and it's not fun at all because, goshdarnit, it is hard work! And that is just as it should be, too.

So, yeah. I've been in a deep creative funk, at this point for a couple of years. I'm always trying to get it back, I'm often doing projects and writing novels and snapping photos and writing in my journal and taking workshops  and doing challenges and these are all good ways to get your mojo back, but in some ways, I've lost my direction.

At some point, I have to pull all my little projects together and make it mean something. Something for myself, give it a purpose.

But what happens if I don't know what purpose I want to have?

I wonder, maybe, if this is the reason for my creative slump.

Maybe instead of spending my time with figuring out what projects I want to do, or how I want to do them or when I have time to squeeze them in, perhaps I need to spend some time working on WHY I want to be creative.

Why? What is my purpose? What fills my life with meaning? What is that something that keeps me going?

Another problem.

How the heck are you supposed to figure out that?

To answer that, I refer back to the drawing. Follow the things you love. Follow the things that fill your heart with gladness. Follow the things that make your heart say "yes." Just keep following them.

Take real steps to make those things a part of your life. Find the "yes," say "yes" to it. Do.  Don't imagine it, don't say "oh that's really nice, I should try that, what's playing on netflix?" (btdt)



Monday, May 11, 2015

Big Things Are Done With Small Actions

Hi all.
I have committed the fatal creative error of grandiose dreams.

When I fell off my blog, I kept wanting to come back bigger and better than ever. I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence when I stopped blogging just as I hit one thousand blog posts.

All of a sudden, I felt like everything should be much bigger than it was. And when I stopped blogging I thought I should come back with everything revamped, a new website, new goals, new everything and all better than I had been doing it before.

But the truth is that I got to 1000 blog posts because something about my blogging worked for me. My blog has always been a blog about process. It has always been casual and immediate and about sitting down every day to create and to document my creativity.

So here I am. Coming back. Hoping to stay back. Hoping that by returning to something that was an effective part of a successful creative process, I can make it work. Once again.

The thing about creating is that you can't do big things. All big things are made up of small things. You can't climb a mountain, you can only reach one handhold, then the next, then the next, and keep going until you have climbed that mountain.

I wrote a novel, but I didn't do it by writing a novel. I did it by writing a word, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, a draft, a final, and now a thousand different versions of a synopsis.

Big things are done with small actions.

When you feel overwhelmed with your big things, step back and see what small step you can take to get you closer to your goal.

So I'm going to make a goal to stop taking my blog so seriously, expecting it to be so established and perfect and professional and I am instead just going to commit to seriously sit down to write my small, imperfect, process driven, document of my daily creative life.
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