If five years ago someone had told me that I’d be living a fulfilling life by conducting storytelling session for kids, spending time reading, writing my memoir, and learning classical dance , I would have laughed…laughed really hard.
In 2010, I was recovering from one of the hardest and lowest phase of my life. They call it “Depression”, a single word for so many emotions that I went through. I was slowly hopping back and learning to manage my emotions with the help of my office colleagues, blogs I read and the virtual friends I made. No one around me had an idea of what I was going through, yet their presence helped me heal and recover.
As a child I wrote every day to get over the feelings of fear and loneliness, but I lost connect with myself in my teens. My thoughts were like wild horses, running wildly not in my control. I wanted peace and harmony, but found none until I began writing again in 2008. Since then I wanted to write a book, a story of hope and healing, of discovering and loving oneself and of breaking the limitations.
Since then I’ve written many drafts, discarded them, written again and discarded again. Somewhere deep the dream of writing a novel was burning and it came alive with this story that I narrated early this year. As a next step, I joined the #NaNoWriMo this year, where writers around the world join the community to write 50,000 words of their novel. I joined the group with excitement and enthusiasm.
In the first week I wrote 4000 words and I was all set to finish the 50,000 word count. But the second week brought the festivities and I chose to entertain guests, cooked delicious dishes for my family and the remaining time, I spent surfing the net, liking and commenting on Facebook posts and photos. Then came the third week which I spent amidst clouds and rains in Bangalore attending the Kathalaya Storytelling Workshop. And the last week of November I geared up to write again.
Writing a memoir is easy as well as challenging. Easy because it’s your own life story and you can easily remember all the important events of your life, challenging because each event that is important to you is not important to your reader. I got over the low phase with a lot of effort and now when I sat to write about it….it was intimidating. I found it challenging to go back to that phase and write about my feelings. It took me time to get into that zone and once I was in that zone….in connect with my innermost feelings, I found it tough to come out of it. Finally on 30th November I finished writing 7000+ words.
But there are few things that I realized in this one month journey
- Plan your novel:
It’s the most fundamental thing that you can do, so that writing becomes easy. Once you have a rough plan, character sketch of your characters, the setting and flow, writing becomes more fun. Your plan may look like this :
Main characters in the novel
Protagonist likes/dislikes, looks, where he/she stays, clothing preferences, food preferences etc.
What’s the conflict the protagonist faces?
- Write immediately when you wake up:
I prefer writing once the world around is asleep, however with #NaNoWriMo, I began this habit of writing early in the morning. I surprised myself by writing 2500 words one morning. If you’ve never tried writing first thing in the morning, then please do and I bet you’ll love the silence and freshness around.
- Silence the editor:
When I sat to write, I observed my mind asked a million questions, ‘What if you don’t get it right?’ ‘What if there are silly mistakes?’ ‘What if you are unable to complete it?’ ‘What if somebody is already writing what I’m thinking?’ ‘What if I face rejection?’ Phew! Those where some of the limiting thoughts that pulled me down, however I realized I’ve the power to rise above this inner critic. There is a supporting voice within each one of us which inspires us to go ahead and fulfil our dreams. There is a voice which says, ‘Yes! You can do it.’ ‘You’re born to do this’ ‘You will surely succeed’ ‘You can edit it later, so write now’, encourage that voice, listen to it and act on it. When you start doing that, you will notice you get special powers to do that which thought was challenging.
- Join the sprints:
On the Facebook Page of WRIMO India, Sonia Rao and many other enthusiastic writers conducted writing sprints. The writing sprints ranged somewhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Though I didn’t join them, I strongly recommend a first time Wrimo to join the discussion and sprints. Our brain has this unique capability to achieve more in less time. Many writers could complete the 50,000 word count on the last two days with the help of writing sprints.
- Signup for #NaNoWriMO:
Last but not the least, do signup for the next #NaNoWriMo. It is fun to connect with fellow writers, learn from them and it helps you to get that first draft out of your system. I have better clarity of how I want to go ahead with my memoir and I am aiming at completing it by January 2016. Writing is something which most people prefer to do when they are in the right frame of mind or mood, however if you plan to write a novel then you’ve to have a certain amount of discipline and dedication. You need to say ‘NO’ to your friends and family (that includes your spouse too). #NaNoWriMo is a perfect platform to get that started.
Did you sign up for #NaNoWriMo this year? If yes, were you able to finish the first draft of your novel? How was your experience? I am eager to listen to your stories and learning.
Have a productive and amazing week ahead
Love and Gratitude,