Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Sandboxes Aren’t Just for Kids — Writing as Pure Creation

When we were kids, there was the sandbox, filled with toys and friends. We’d build things, destroy things, and then start all over. It didn’t matter how small it was, or how quickly we could dig to the bottom of the box. We had total power over the sand.

Then, when we reached our 20s, we played computer games, and that sandbox we had as little kids showed up again, this time complete with a monitor and a mouse. It didn’t matter if we weren’t running the fastest machine out there because, once we put the disc of The Sims or Roller Coaster Tycoon into the CD-ROM drive, we were kings once again. We had total control and could create anything we wanted. A roller coaster that crashed every time? Why not? Two neighbors who hate each other at first and then fall in love and raise a family? All in the span of an hour? Sure.

But those sandboxes have limits and rules. You need a computer to play the game, or the box in which to actually put the sand.

When we put words on paper or, in the modern world, on a screen, the power comes rushing back. But there are no strings attached this time, no rules to play by, and no objective to beat. We just have pure creation.

At first, there is only darkness. But with four words, “let there be light,” we can see each other. Do you see what I did there? I wrote some words and changed the environment.

Writing is creation and change wrapped up in one simple action. By putting words down, an environment is changed. An environment that can be visited again and again both by writer and reader. Our imaginations are linked by the cyclical act of writing and reading. I can envision something and write it down, and you can see it.

Writing is the ultimate sandbox. We carry over what we learned from our previous sandboxes. Instead of Sims to play god with, we create fleshed-out characters with lives of their own. Instead of sandcastles, we build stories. And while we still can find a certain satisfaction in destroying a story, we know it’s more enjoyable to share it with others.

But we’re not kids anymore, and real life doesn’t have the same rules computer games did. Just because we write something doesn’t mean we get paid in points or dollars. All that freedom and expression isn’t guaranteed to put food on the table.

I got the chance to major in writing. But I found that, after four years of writing classes, I began to lose sight of the sandbox. Each semester, I had to adjust to a new professor with different rules of what was acceptable and what was not. Some assignments were pretty open-ended, while others were quite exact. Sometimes, writing for a grade wasn’t fun.

Luckily, I discovered National Novel Writing Month.

“NaNoWriMo,” as insiders call it, has as its main goal pure creation. Participants are tasked with writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn’t matter how bad those words are because, by December 1, there are 50,000 more words than there were on November 1. This is a competition, but you’re not up against the other writers. You’re up against yourself for bragging rights. Can you silence your inner editor long enough to reach the goal?

November 2011 was exhilarating. I created with total freedom, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I mostly wrote by the seat of my pants. There wasn’t any outlining beforehand. I just set off with an idea and started writing. I was creating again, and this time I didn’t have to cater to professors or assignments. Finally, I was writing something that was wholly my own.

I found my sandbox again. And I’m never losing sight of it this time.

–My contribution to Before You Quit Writing Read This!, a collaboration by The Literati Writers and available on Amazon right now.

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Time Travel: NaNoWriMo Edition

The good news I’ve resumed writing again after avoiding my mess of my novel for a few months.The bad news is I’m fighting an urge every time I open the Scrivener document to do some major editing while the plot remains unfinished!

There is a speculative fiction group that I’m a part of that started weekly writing nights. I’ve found it’s a great incentive to tell my brain, “okay it’s Tuesday night. You are going to the food court in the Transportation building and you are writing. No Internet!”  I’ve gone for a month now and have banged out at least 500 words each time . Last night I hit a thousand. (I really should try to write every day again, but baby steps)

But as I’ve gotten back into my novel I’m realizing it has a lot more problems than just an unfinished plot. It partly comes with the territory of writing in a universe where time travel can happen. My novel seems to jump all over the place. And it’s not just because of the way Scrivener’s designed!

I’m still excited about this project so that’s a very good sign. If I had forced myself to keep writing after November 30th  I might have  burned out for good. Now that I have work settled I can get a schedule down that balances writing, gym, and free time. Oh and blogging of course!

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Random Writings

Some of my writings from THREE years ago. The lovely thing about the internet, is you can preserve things in their original status forever (or until the site goes under)

I look back on where I started and can’t help cringe, but that’s a sign that I’ve improved, right?

In other writing news: taking advantage of not being employed or in school full time and going for the full FIFTY THOUSAND Words goal for National Novel Writing Month. I had fallen behind but managed to catch up on Sunday where I wrote seven thousand words in one day. 

I put off actually starting  the Luther Paradox reboot enough to use it for NaNoWriMo. And I’m 45k + along and enjoying myself.  Sure I’ll have a lot of editing to do once I finally finish the story (which won’t be on November 30th) but this is the first time in almost six months that I am enjoying writing again.

But once I have gone through the project and revised it, I’ll start posting at least segments of it  here. I’ll never “live-blog” my NaNo story like I did two years ago. That was a mistake looking back.

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The Luther Paradox

Or the story that finally breaks my writing drought after three months.

I was sitting in my History of Christian Churches classes last year, learning about the Reformation, when a story idea came to me. What if Martin Luther had been prevented from posting his 95 Thesis? What if there was a time travel element – if the person who stopped Luther was from the future… if he was a time traveling mercenary?  I played with the first draft during National Novel Writing Month in November and got to about 20,000 words before I realized my story wasn’t going anywhere plot wise. I had focused far too much on my protagonist, giving him a back story that was quickly turning him into a Mary Sue character. There is a reason why I never bothered posting anything I wrote back then.

I decided to reboot my own story and start again, playing around with the plot until I picked a starting point that would just jump right in. I don’t want to give too much away in case of spoilers but I’m hoping to weave a tale that combines religion – the Catholic Church specifically – and Time Travel.

Finally writing again after the summer drought feels good, but my confidence is shaky (actually, that’s nothing new). I have decided to post the first two thousand words for feedback.

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The Power of the Exiled – Chapter 1

What follows is the beginning of my 2009 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) submission. The idea is from two years ago (!), right around NaNo time as well. I think I considered it but did not get to writing it because in some way, I had thought that the world needed to be different somehow. In fact I have an outline that tries to put a spin on almost everything. Like the technology was different from ours. For one thing, each house had it’s own power source which was a steam generator. This year I’m not doing that but I am striving to make it clear it is not our time and place. Below, you may notice a few things that are slightly different from what we have here, but I kept names of this world. (thank you behindthename.com – best tool for finding character names)

Title: “The Power of the Exiled”

Read the first part

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