By Nichole Giles
Did I mention last month that I’m participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge? The deal is that I had to sign up on a website, and by doing so, commit myself to writing 50,000 words in thirty days. I did that, and then added a bunch of writing buddies who will cheer me on and keep me going when I decide I don’t want to do it anymore.
The challenge started at midnight on November first, or in other words, the minute Halloween was over.
How am I doing? So far so good. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this month, it’s the value of a quiet moment of meditation. Now, I’m not talking about during the writing process—that, my friends, is a stall tactic—but just before. I’ve discovered that when I take five or ten minutes to meditate, to sit still and quiet in a relaxed position, all by myself, I am far more prepared to write from the heart instead of my head.
“But,” you ask, “What’s the difference?” Everyone is different, so this may not be true for you, but I’ve discovered that the material that comes from my heart is far better—and requires less editing or large, ridiculous numbers of rewrites—than when I sit down and force something to come out of my head.
As an example I’ll use my two current works in progress. I started the first one last winter, in a moment of inspiration that came to me during one of my kids’ basketball games. The first chapter or two flowed easily and established a cast of characters I loved, and who have developed into people a reader can care about. I’ve been working on this manuscript for almost a year, and it stands right now, about 2/3 finished, at 60,000 some odd words. Currently, this story is stalled.
It’s taken me a long time to build up that word count because of countless minutes of writing time wasted staring at a blank screen as I wonder what happens next and try to force the story to work out in my head. By trying to force myself to write the story, I caused my characters, plot, and setting details to stall, gel, and rebel against being written. The stinkers!
On the other hand, the story I started last week for NaNoWriMo is in a completely different realm. I know the characters fairly well, and have a very vague idea of what needs to happen and where the story is going, but I have no preconceived plans other than an idea of what the main character will need to experience in order to accomplish her quest. By not having outlined ideas in my head, and then trying to force these ideas onto the screen, I am better able to take five or ten minutes of quiet meditation before I begin writing and use them to dig deep into my heart, and allow the words and story to simply flow—unedited and not judged by my dreaded fear of failure.
This week I’ve written over 20,000 words, which is roughly 1/3 of the words completed in my other manuscript. You know, the one on which I’ve been working for eight or nine months and still have not finished. Interesting, isn’t it?
So the question of the day is does it make a difference when you start your writing session with a few quiet minutes of meditation? Share your thoughts, I really want to know.
**Mormon Mishaps and Mischief update: Cindy and I have received the proofs, and are getting ready to turn them in to our editor, Heidi. We’re still waiting for a solid publication date, and our real cover art, but are expecting good news any day. Stay tuned.
Until next time, write on!
Monday, November 9, 2009
By Nichole Giles