Monday, October 20, 2008

November Writing Month

Last year I discovered the writing project Nanowrimo. I planned to participate last November last year but I was unable to continue. I think I stopped on the 3rd or 4th day. This year it seems more promising. I looked at a few videos in the Nanowrimo site and have a good feeling in sharing the same situation with other wannabe novelists. Last weekend I was still unable to write but read about writing techniques from a website owned by a novelist. He provided some techniques which is very helpful. It's called the 'snowflake' method following fractal geometry.

I am starting to understand the craft of writing from the works like these and I can relate it to the software I have bought particularly 'New Novelist' and others like 'Novel Writing'. I realized that in fact I don't know anything about writing. I was in a mistaken illusion that I can write in a sort of 'stream of consciousness' form in a few days of inspired frenzy. In fact, it was an illusion that was started by reading Hemingway. He is the most deceptive of writers by giving enraptured readers the impression that writing is very easy to do.

My second mistake is thinking that writing in a journal is the same as writing a book. This fueled the same illusion into thinking that the 'stream of consciousness' is the only way to go in writing novels. This is the error that Ayn Rand has pointed out that most writers think it's a mystical effort. I sometime do get this mystical feeling from journal writing but it is more a result of achieving clarity of thinking that diary writing easily does. It is also the release that comes from expressing yourself. So the act of writing was mistakenly equated with a mystical 'stream of consciousness' mind set which actually resulted in clarity of thought. Hence, it was actually an exercise of thinking and not writing.

So reading the advise from writers like Ayn Rand and Stephen King and others like the novelist who created the 'snowflake' method is very helpful. I guess Hemingway is that one in a million writerswho was born with a special gift or maybe I misunderstood his comment on writing as well. I kept on reading books and writing my journal for many years with the mistaken belief that my writing talent will come one day and my book will suddenly rush forth from me. Of course, reading and writing a journal is always good but will not sustain you into being a successful novelist.

I should have learned this other techniques on being a novelist about 15 to 20 years ago. Maybe I would have been a successful novelist by now. I have been in an 'experiencing' mode for the past 15 to 20 years; accumulating experience and thinking that it will be the gist where I will mold my stories. Instead, it has turned into a decadent descent into passionate and wasteful experiences when I should have been thinking less emotionally and more rationally. Nevertheless, it has not benefitted me as a writer but improved me in my work by fuelling my talents (so-called from strength finder) of input, intellection and ideation.

I think this has helped me become successful by widening my horizons, improved my thinking and strategic skills and allowed me adapt to different cultures and understand the different situations and systems in my work. But it has never helped me to be a better writer. I think the structure and process of being a writer following these techniques will make me a better worker as well. It will introduce discipline and structure where I need some improvement. So the next phase will hopefully not only make me be more efficient and productive at work but also a better writer.

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