What can you do if you just can’t write? This has been my struggle this Nano. I usually have a time getting started, but this year is different. I have no doubt that part of it stems from our October difficulties.
However, there are other things that can be done to keep your project (I say project rather than novel because my work is primarily non-fiction) moving forward. Here are five.
Outline. What do you have? What do you need? Is there research that needs to be done for your project?
Write vignettes. Get the scene out of your head. No transitions, no history, just stream of consciousness that can be incorporated later on in your project.
Study the history of your subject. My particular book offers some historical perspective and learning the history of the place can give you ideas for storylines in both fiction and non-fiction.
Edit. Re-read. Revise. I know that Nano is for writing and not editing, but if you can’t write…re-read. Something may come to you.
Take a Break. Light a candle, have a cup of tea, read a book. Set a timer for ten minutes and just sit with eyes closed and mind open. Or twenty minutes.
Take the pressure off of yourself. What are some of your suggestions when you’re blocked?
My daughter came up with this recipe. It is excellent for those in your life who prefer their vegetables crunchy and just barely the other side of raw as she does. I was complaining of her lack of vegetables in her cooking and she decided to show me up by frying up some apple slices and baby carrots in what was left of the chicken tenders in the pan. We ate it over rice, and it was not only very good, it was refreshing as well.
Later on that same weekend, I made a similar dish with fried chicken breasts and buttered egg noodles. My veggie combo consisted of: apple slices, grape tomatoes, and dried cranberries sauteed in about a quarter stick of butter with a tiny sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and a pinch or so of apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice).
My apples were not crunchy at all (and that was how I liked them) and unfortunately, I was the only one who liked the tomatoes and cranberries, but experimentation is at the heart of cooking. Had I mashed them, they would have made a nice chutney.
Try something new. That’s been my husband’s refrain for the last couple of years: TSN! (Try something new.) I wonder if chopped pecans would have improved it a bit. Ah, but next time.
What would you have added to my sauteed apples that would have been better?
I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.
– Henry David Thoreau
November is full of thanks and gratitude. If only, we held onto these sentiments throughout the year, what a wonderful world it would be. I don’t know that I can show gratitude for the difficulties I had in October, but I can offer thanks for the inauspicious start to November. Somewhat quiet and subdued. While we will not see our cousins for Thanksgiving, we will see my brother-in-law and hopefully have a nice get-together later on with my son’s girlfriend and something quiet for my birthday. I am hesitant, but cautiously optimistic.
Sitting in front of the typewriter/keyboard, I am clacking away at the keys, and while I still haven’t taken hold of my Nano projects, I have been jotting things down on all matter of things.
I still have hope to take Thoreau’s words to heart, and be grateful for who I am, for what I have, and remind myself perpetually of all that I have to be thankful for. Every day can be thanksgiving if given the mindfulness to quietly look around and take in the life around me.
The picture below is a reminder that not everything is expected. About once a week, my family goes to The Fresh Market chain. They have what they call a “little big meal”. It feeds a family of four for $25 and usually comes with five or six components. The most recent one was a chicken roll up dinner and surprisingly one of the items was a bouquet of flowers. I thought it strange since they are not edible, but instead they fed something that was missing from me recently. The brought on a quietness, a contemplative series of moments as I trimmed the stems and arranged them in my vase. I smelled each one, adding water and a bit of the powdered food daily. We got them Sunday and they are just as strong, just as beautiful as when I brought them home. They are a welcome addition to my work space. I didn’t know I longed for them until I received them.
Sometimes looking past the expected brings us from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
While this is Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month, for me it is more like Day 1. To begin, get any information at the Nanowrimo link. It will introduce you to the organization, its philosophy, and how to sign up and keep track of your word counts, daily as well as in totality.
While Nanowrimo focuses on novel writing, I think its pep talks, write-ins, and exercises work with any writing project, and I do use it extensively for my non-fiction writing. Currently, I am working on four books, in various stages of writing.
The two big ones are (the simply known as) the Wales book and a Labyrinth prayer book.
While both have some bits written, they are really in need of outlining and focus. That is what I plan to do this week. Sometimes writing the goal down leads to its completion; or at least its beginning.
What projects (writing or otherwise) are you working on at the moment? How’s it going?
I’ve been struggling with focus and writing and motivation. This includes my plans for Nanowrimo. I’m hoping that I will pick up the pen and get moving on my Nano projects. It’s only the first week, so it is not an impossible task.