A novel approach to writing

I am very good at good intentions. Not so great at follow-through. Part of the problem is that I am too easily distracted. If I was only interested in a few things I am sure it would be simpler. But instead my plans to write more, to write more regularly, are often scuppered by a desire to do something else. Perhaps a bit of patchwork. Can I do some cross-stitch, or a crossword puzzle? Maybe I need to listen to some music, or go to the movies. And then there is that interesting talk on in town, or that good friend I have not seen in a while. We won’t even talk about the distraction of the books all calling to be read.

I suspect I am not alone in this. Sometimes I wonder how anyone actually gets any writing done.  I struggle particularly with writing fiction. Poetry seems easier to slip in, to snatch a few spare moments and scribble a short poem. Or to tinker with the lines on the page, until I have something to show for it. But a novel, now that takes time. And committment. And discipline. All things in short supply in my life.

Thankfully there is an ideal means for procrastinating people like myself, the ones who are going to write a novel, one day. That day has arrived. Or rather, that month.

Yes, November is the month to finally write that novel. Each year thousands of people around the world sign up for nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. Yes, it should really say International, but inanowrimo sounds rather inane.

The challenge is to write a 50 000 word novel during November. That sounds hectic, but is actually quite doable, working out at less than 2000 words a day. There is no reason why I could not do that every day. But I don’t. Except in November. Somehow having a deadline, and knowing I only have to do this for 30 days, means I stop talking about writing, and write.

At the end of the month there will be a draft manuscript. It might be really awful, beyond salvage by even the most inspired editing. But at least I have only wasted one month on the piece. Imagine how much worse it would be to spend seven years on a novel and then discover that it was dreadful. Most years I am pleasantly surprised at what I have to show for the month’s work. Oh yes, there is a lot of dreadful writing. There are vast sections needing to be cut or rewritten, and some that make me wonder who actually wrote that rubbish – surely not me! But, and this is a big but, I have a manuscript to work with. Even if I don’t reach the target of 50 000 I will have more words written than I had a month ago.

So now, I will stop procrastinating by blogging, and get back to my brand new novel which is slowly growing, word by word, day by day. I can’t wait to see what it looks like by the end of November.

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Changing name

If anyone has actually been reading this blog from the beginning you will have noticed the name changing a few times. As a writer I find the titles to be the most difficult part of writing a poem, and it seems a blog is not very different.

A new year, a new title. Which will hopefully be the permanent name. I wanted to use the title of one of my poems and decided to go with The Crystal Calligrapher. Not only do I really like the poem, but after a life time of people making puns about my name, I figured I was entitled to do it too.

The poem The Crystal Calligrapher speaks about writing, which is the prime topic of this blog, and about painting with light; which is rather what we are doing as we blog. My words will be read, not on a page, but on a computer screen. I also like the idea of each entry being frozen in time, left to linger in cyberspace long after it was written, even after the writer has forgotten it and readers have faded away. Yet our words remain.

The Crystal Calligrapher (first published in Carapace)

the crystal calligrapher

is frozen in time

pen ever poised

painting with light