Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: fiction writing

A jogger forms a backdrop for Jim Rohn's words: "How long should you try? Until."

Playing a long game

This post is for everyone who hasn’t yet dropped out of NaNoWriMo. And really for everyone who’s pursuing a long, hard effort they believe in. Whatever your struggle, you’re playing a long game. Persistence is the key.

Vince Lombardi's words, "Winners never quit, and quitters never win," accompany a photo of ducklings struggling to climb a steep curb.

If you’re still hanging in there for NaNoWriMo, you’re entering Week Three, today. By now you’re probably tired. You may have missed a few days, or fallen short of a few benchmarks you’d set for yourself. 

You may have begun to wonder if this is really worth it. Take heart. It is. In any long game, persistence is the key.

This quote comes from Napoleon Hill: "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success." The background photo is a rocky seashore.

Doubts are natural. But doubt is poison.

All writers have doubts. And if you’re trying to pile up thousands and thousands of words in a very short period of time time, you’re probably having double and triple doubts. 

You know what you’re writing isn’t polished. Hope what you’re writing is good. Fear what you’re writing is garbage.

It doesn’t matter. Not at this point. You’re playing a long game, so the key thing you need is persistence.

A quote attributed to Thomas Foxwell Burton says, "with ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable."

The road to quality starts here.

Save the heartburn over polish for rewrites. What you’re doing right now is simply getting it down in an editable format. It’s the essential first step to a finished draft you can be proud of

Even if much of what you write this month has to be trashed or overhauled, it’s a start. It’s more than you had written before. It’s always easier to rewrite than to write it the first time through.

You’re doing hard work, essential work. And you’re honoring the long game, where persistence is key. So hang in there.

Against a colorful background, this quote from poet Avijeet Das says, "Struggle for your art. Die for your art. But you can never give up on your art!"

The long game

If NaNoWriMo is like story structure, then you’re entering the crucial third quarter. The second half of Act Two, if that’s how you prefer to think of it. You’re closing in on the rising action–which means you might be facing a Dark Night of the Soul.

Keep writing, anyway. At the chosen time each day, park yourself in the chair at your desk, in the coffehouse booth, poised over your pad, or wherever you write. Make words happen. Keep writing.

You’re playing a long game. Persistence is the key.

A jogger in action forms the backdrop for this quote by Jim Rohn: "How long should you try? Until."

NOTE: This post is one of several I’ve published during this month and last, in honor of National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short). Others in this series so far include “It’s getting on toward time. Are you ready?” “Will you or won’t you Na-No-Wri-Mo?” and “An ideal writing space.” Stay tuned for more!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to The Diary Store, for the Vince Lombardi quote; to good ol’ BrainyQuote, for the Napoleon Hill graphic; to Life11-Scribble and Scrawl’s “10 Quotes on Nurturing Talent,” for the quote from the rather elusive Thomas Foxwell Burton (It’s possible the name is actually Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. He was a British Baronet and an abolitionist active in the 18th century); and to Everyday Power, for the illustrated quotes from Avijeet Das and Jim Rohn. I am deeply grateful to all!

Will you or won’t you Na-No-Wri-Mo? Here’s something for both sides.

The Artdog Image of Interest 

One more thought as we approach National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Remember: one week from today, it starts! But I have to admit that this is usually my strategy!

IMAGE: Many thanks for the ever-wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her Will Write for Chocolate blog, for this cartoon!

It’s getting on toward time. Are you ready?

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Each year in November, it’s National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Each year in October, I consider participating. Will this be the year?

IMAGE: Many thanks to Errol Elumir’s blog NaNoToons and the Na-No-Wri-Mo organization for the use of this cartoon.

Retreat to Paradise Point

I’m writing this post from the edge of Table Rock Lake, in the Hollister, MO area, at a resort managed by Bluegreen Vacations called Paradise Point. I’m enjoying a mini-writing retreat there with my friend Dora Furlong, who set up this trip.

Here’s the view (across an arm of Table Rock Lake) from our balcony at Paradise Point.

Neither of us is officially participating in Na-No-Wri-Mo, but both of us are trying to make progress on our current projects. And what a beautiful setting for our efforts! The physical beauty of the land is sometimes absolutely breathtaking.

Fog rose from the valleys in southern Missouri  on our trip to Paradise Point. Photo (complete with unavoidable bugs on Jan’s windshield) by Dora Furlong.

We drove down from the Kansas City Metro Monday, and were startled by the thickness of the fog in the valleys at dusk. I remarked to Dora that it was like the fog that comes up each evening from the Sirius River on Rana Station in my stories. From there, we launched into a discussion of ways to create greater drama with the fog (writing retreat; it’s what we do!).

The lights and the fog held an interactive dialogue on the grounds of Paradise Point after dark.

After supper we wandered around in that selfsame fog on the Paradise Point grounds, both to get a sense of our surroundings and because it was good to take an after-dinner constitutional. And of course I collected more great resource material!

It’s a mini-retreat, so our time is limited. But I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse. If you’re a creative person, I hope you’ll consider taking some time away (with a friend or alone) to concentrate on immersing yourself in your own creative work. Not all of the rewards show up on the page, but I think you’ll find those rewards are both real and enriching.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Dora Furlong for sharing her photo of the fog along Hwy. 65 in southern Missiouri, and giving me permission to use it here! The other two photos are by me, Jan S. Gephardt. As ever, if you wish to use an image from this post please include a link back to your source and an attribution to the photographer, when you do! Many thanks!

Perfectly set up for Na-No-Wri-Mo

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve got not one, but two projects ideally set up for a Na-No-Wri-Mo style writing blitz

On the eve of the event itself, no less! If ever there were a year when I was perfectly set to participate, this is it.

What is “Na-No-Wri-Mo“? you may ask. That is short for “National Novel-Writing Month.” It’s an annual event, held November 1-30 of each year. Participants attempt to write 50,000 words or more in a month (50,000 words is the minimum length for a novel, according to some definitions and in some genres).

Many participants look upon it as a competition (for well or ill) and for many it provides motivation. I think whatever helps a writer make progress on his or her work of passion is a positive thing.

It’s true that a rare few people actually can write a real novel in a month. For most of us, 50,000 even-semi-coherent words in a month is a stretch, and that’s the point. Na-No-Wri-Mo is designed to push writers beyond their comfort zones and help them achieve more than they thought they could. It’s a creative challenge that is a high bar, but not unreachable.

That’s extremely beneficial for a writer, whether you end up with a novel at the end of the month, or (more likely) with a steaming pile of first draft.

I know I’ve posted this quote from Shannon Hale before, but I thought it was appropriate here.

I have never personally participated in Na-No-Wri-Mo, although I’ve been “Na-No adjacent” for years because I hang out with other writers. Why don’t I participate? 

Mostly it’s because I’m a competition-averse person, and I write slowly. I’m persistent, but not fast. Also, I know myself. Trying to write 50,000 words straight through with no stopping or second thoughts . . . not gonna happen. It would make me nuts.

Also, it’s in November. That might be a time of miserable weather in San Francisco (the original reason for timing it then), but November is the month before Christmas, contains no fewer than three family birthdays for my clan, and it has Thanksgiving in it. NO WAY am I going through November with the minimum of distractions needed to produce 50,000 words!

In November, San Francisco looks like this a lot. No wonder the Na-No-Wri-Mo founders wanted to stay inside!

So, no. I’ll flirt with the idea, but I won’t sign up for Na-No-Wri-Mo this year, either. But I’ll think of the participants often, as I regularly take chunks of time to work on my projects throughout the month, and I’ll be wishing them well!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Wikipedia for the Na-No-Wri-Mo logo file, to Ali Stegert’s “Spilling Ink” blog, for the quote from Shannon Hale, and to Free Tours by Foot, for the photo of San Francisco in November.

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