Useful Writing Habits – The Workbook

Back when I was at University, one thing my lecturers always talked about was the “Workbook”. It sounded daunting at first. Then again, things usually sound daunting when you don’t know what they entail.

The workbook is really the epitome of process. The workbook IS the process.

And it sounds way fancier than it really is.

So. Basically, the workbook can be a word document or a physical notebook. The most important thing about it is that you use it for the project you are currently working on. It can be for many different projects even. So if you’re brainstorming? Into the workbook. Working through titles? Workbook. Lists of films that might be relevant to what you’re working on? Workbook. Actual writing? Also workbook! It can be anything really that is relevant and helpful and that you need to remember or work on for your project(s).

It’s a notebook/document dedicated for you to use. It might seem weird and “why not just write in the other notebook I have with me right now?” Well – What I love about the notebook is that it lowers the risk of you losing important notes. If you always write on individual sheets of paper or in different notebooks constantly, there is a risk of you losing some of that paper somehow. I’m not saying that you’re messy, but rather, that paper is fickle and likes to hide.

So. Workbook. It makes it easier to see what you’re working on, all the different things included, to remember what to do where and see what you were thinking when you were planning that one thing that was really important to you.

Also.. It means only having to take ONE notebook. Instead of 3 different ones.

Workbooks saves backs people. Try it out.

(But then again. That’s just MY opinion.) 

Useful Writing Habits – The Idea Notebook

So, I have been thinking a lot about process. I find the creative process to be kind of… Fascinating in a way. I mean, you have millions of novels out there, but equally millions of different creative processes. Sure, they all have something in common: There is an idea and there is writing at some point (otherwise it would be kind of a weird novel!).  But anywho. I think it’s pretty cool to look into how different people work in different ways, and to both become inspired by them but also suddenly aware of what your process currently looks like. Here’s a little bit of mine.

One thing I’ve found immensely helpful as a writer, and an artist as well, is the concept of the idea notebook. 

I remember coming across it about five years ago (or more, the concept of time is starting to become very foreign to me), an evening in my room at my parents’ house where I was in bed and I couldn’t sleep, so I was watching this evening talk show thing with a Danish writer; and he talked about his hundreds of notebooks that were all just full of little bits and bobs that he found interesting, just in case he needed these bits and bobs for… Anything really.

I thought: “Huh.  Why have I not thought about this before. This seems like a pretty cool idea. I’m gonna try it.”

And to be honest? It was. I ALWAYS carry a small notebook with me since then (with some exceptions of course) but it’s so freaking useful. Need a character name? A scene inspiration? A random starting word or the name of some random place that you liked two years ago that could work? You’ve got it.

It really is a simple concept: Get a notebook, one that is small enough for you to keep in your coat pocket/bag/trouser pocket/whatever you’d use. Have that, and a pen, with you or near you, as often as possible. And anytime you see something, someone, or just..think of something: Write it down.  It can be stuff like “Man in his 60’s. Hunchback. He always wears the same trench coat and walks with a purpose but never goes into a shop.” Or just a random name you’ve heard in passing that you like. A word you had forgotten. Something some asshole says on the bus that could be a good line for a character in a novel. A doodle of a painting that you’d like to do when you get home, or when you have paint supplies again.

That’s the fun of it – it can be anything! I’ve noticed that when I started doing this notebook thing, I also became more aware of details around me that I hadn’t thought to notice before. Smells and sounds, and the way people talk, and how rooftops look against a dark sky.

And when you feel like you’re exhausted of ideas at some point, when you sit in front of your computer or notebook and you have no ideas, go to your notebook.

It’ll help you out.

NaNo-Prep! The Idea

It’s almost November Which means…..

NaNoWriMo! Heck to the yes!

Okay, so, last year it didn’t go so well for me. I was swamped with work for university and I just did not have enough mental ink to get those word blobs out. It happens.

But all you can do is try, and try again. So that’s what I’m going to do. Same novel. Same month. Different year. Fewer plays to write. You get the gist.

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s all about preparation – I work better when I’ve done some. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a clean slate can be incredibly nice when I’m writing something shorter, a poem, a haiku, a short story… But not when it’s 50.000 words. In 4 weeks. Nah mate, nah. I need to have some sort of preparation or at least think about it in advance..So..

THIS! Is step one (I imagined that in that really dramatic movie trailer voice… Did it work in text?? It didn’t did it… I should have known..)

Ahem. Step one. Getting started with it all.

THE IDEA! THE BRAINSTORMING! THE RANDOM THOUGHTS! WORDS IN ALL CAPS

This year, the idea bit is quite easy for me. I have an idea, I’ve had this idea for three years and now I “just” need to complete it 100%- The first finished draft of it anyway.  But there have been other years (2012 you little shit) where I had no idea at all at the point when I decided I would do  NaNoWriMo… And it was a tad terrifying. But I somehow managed. And this is what I did: I began wondering….” What kind of story do i even want to write?”I thought about characters that could be cool to write and stuff I had written before, but that I never finished. Somehow my train of thought led me to “This thing should be set in a convent!”… I let that simmer for a few days. It sounded completely boring, until my subconscious went “lol remember that stupid vampire story you wrote when you were like 11? You could write something else about vampires” (Note: My subconscious is a kind of an asshole cause I’m still really proud of that story.)

And then, the last piece…How are these two things even related? Would a vampire be inside or outside the convent? Inside seemed like the stranger way to go, so I chose that, which led to more questions, like: Why would this vampire be in a convent? Is she trapped? Is she happy? What is she doing there?? What??

Somehow, when I began to think of the motivation for this weird unknown vampire character being in a convent, it all fell into place. Somehow I knew how to start and what was going to drive the story – It would be why she was there and how she felt about it. I knew that the feeling would determine everything after the initial premise:

With some anger, it could be a bloodbath or a careful killing of everyone else in the convent – a strange murder mystery of why a random nun would kill her sisters. With paranoia it would be long hallways, long nights, whispers around the corner, an endless stream of “whats gonna happen? will they find out” or “whats gonna happen if they find me here??” I just had to choose one out of the endless possibilities, to start.

And so the initial Idea was there.

I wish I could say it was more planned than that. That it was a case of “This is how you do it, first do this, and then this, and then you have a story.” But it wasn’t. It was just more of a brainstorm, letting my brain just do it’s thing and come up with weird scenarios. I don’t know if the vampire in the convent idea was a particularly good idea, but it intrigued me and got me writing: That’s the thing about NaNoWrimo – It’s not so much about quality, as it is quantity. It’s there to get you to write. So… I somehow got started, when I found something that intrigued me, that I had to figure out. Otherwise that vampire character would just be stuck in a convent in my head for no reason and that would just be rude… Right?

TL;DR – Make sure your idea/plot/character/theme/conflict intrigues you or inspires you in some way to start writing. That’s the most important thing to get you going. 

Was this post a mess? Hell yes it was. Will I make more NaNoWriMo themed posts? Yeah! Will they be better than this one? I sure hope so.

Until next time.

PS. For better articles/blog posts on how to get an idea for a novel, I’ve found some links for you.

Here’s one.

And another one.

And juuuuust one more. 

Ok now I’m done.

Wait, that was a link too! Gosh darn it.

 

The September Experiment – Update

So….

In regards to the experiment I mentioned in my previous post? I…I failed. Pretty hard.

I think, all in all, the experiment was a good enough idea.And I will continue to try to write on a daily basis. Perhaps set word-count goals for each week.

But the September Experiment was not…entirely thought through. Somehow I thought I could do it even though I was going away for 2 weeks during it, to see my boyfriend and my friends in the UK , and… Surprise, surprise – that didn’t work. I got caught up in hanging out with awesome people and just enjoying a break from it all. I still wrote things – Just not as much as I had wanted.

Ah well. Yes, the experiment did not work. But, I had planned it badly so, not the experiment’s fault after all!

Anyway. Enough about this! Any of you out there doing NaNoWriMo this year? I will be attempting to do so, once again. Also, I’m planning a few blog posts to go up on this blog beforehand with a few tips for those of you who are trying NaNoWriMo out for the first time (or just need a reminder of possibly helpful things – I know  I could do with one!)

Failure happens. We just have to keep on trying. Indeed indeed indeed.

Until next time dear void.

The September Experiment

I’ve been writing for years and years, but I still don’t have a regular writing schedule which pisses me off. I should be writing every day at this point and even though I write often and when I do, it’s usually a lot, it’s not regularly.

The thing is – Sure, I could live with the “often” instead of “regular” if I had no specific goals. If I was writing just to get some writing done.

And though I am writing to write, it’s not just for that. I have a story I want to tell, ideas to share, and I really really want to finally finish something for once. SO.

My goal is, for September, to write the equivalent of an average 500 words a day on the novel I am currently working on. That is 10500 words for the September (because I didn’t start this on the 1st – if I had, the goal would have been 15000 words). Why do I say “equivalent”? Because I know there will be days where I just can’t write. There will be other things going on, life getting in the way in all its many ways.

So. When I am done with September, I should hopefully be 10500 words into my script. And if this works, I might do the same for October (perhaps with a larger word count and from the 1st).

I really want to get this novel done and I need to get it done. It’s been in my head for far too long and I need to get it out there and prove to myself that I can finish it completely (that includes editing! Maybe I’ll do a “I’ll edit this many pages a day” month once I’m done with the draft. We’ll see.)

Anyway. That’s the plan, the September experiment.  Let’s see how I do.

I’ll try to keep you updated dear void.

Take care.

 

I have been thinking about giving up.

It’s been a bit rough lately. I find myself back in Denmark in this void of attempting to figure out what I should do with the rest of my life. I mean, totally easy right? Not a big question at all..In the middle of all the thinking and the worrying, I began to wonder ; should I even continue to write? It’s become such second nature to me that I don’t know if I actually enjoy doing it anymore. So, a few weeks ago, I decided; I was gonna stop. Quit the writing and do something else.
The next day I went into a local cafe, sat down, and wrote for hours.

I guess it’s not even a choice to make anymore. I just do it. I have to. 

So… I’m still here. Worried that I have nothing to say with my writing, but… 

I simply can’t not write.

Five Months Later

It’s been five months since my last update. Whoops. It’s been busy. Very busy. Like…graduating university busy. But hey, I did it!

But yes. Writing. I’ve filled about three notebooks since my last update, both with university related stuff, and also lots of little projects that I have been working on.. But… lately it’s just been.. a standstill. After all that university work and stress, I’m feeling a bit dried out when it comes to creativity. But it’ll come back soon I hope, it’s already starting to stir in the back of my head. That sounds weird. But..we’ll see. We shall seeeeeeee.

I’ll update with some projects and pictures soon. And ideas. And suggestions. And and and…..stufffff!

And hopefully this time it wont take me five months to do so…

Happy…New…Year?

Okay, okay, I know, it may have been kinda…four months since I updated this blog. Whoops.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing, it’s not that. Actually, quite the opposite. I have been writing, quite a bit in fact, but I’ve been so goddamn busy with University work that I haven’t had the time to blog stuff. And I may have…forgotten as well.

Ahem. Enough about that.

Hi! How are you? How’s your writing going? I’ve done pretty well so far this year in regards to writing, I reckon: I’ve written one 30 minute play, quite a few reflective pieces (like…Four? Five?), a short story and 32 poems. So… Not a huge amount, but still something. I’m also working on several short stories that simply haven’t been finished yet, another play and like….four million poetry collections. Oh and novels. Like…..at least five novels that are waiting for me to write them. Yep. *head explodes*

Yep. Busy bee Maja has been busy, not just with writing stuff and university stuff, but life stuff as well. But it’s okay. Life is good right now, better than it has been the last few years, so despite how busy I am and how stressful some days are, I am hopeful. And yes, I will try to update this blog more often.

But yes. Just a little ramble update from here at 2AM.

Meow!

NaNoWriNope

So…Just a little update….

This years NaNoWriMo is not happening. I tried. I did. But fucking hell, this years University work is like “HAI! YOU THERE! WORK ON ME GOD DAMMIT! IF NOT, YOU SHALL HAVE ALL OF THE STRESS! YES!”

And to be fair, I suppose that’s how it should be. I’m in my third year of doing a BA so it makes sense that this year is one for quite a lot of work. For some reason I just thought I could do NaNoWriMo as well. Alas, not this year. Next year.

So for now I shall focus on my three portfolios for December – one of them even includes a full play.

So yeah. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, I hope things are going well for you! If you decided to stop in the middle of it, join me in trying again next year if you’d like! And if you didn’t do NaNoWriMo at all, well, then…Hi!

Until next time

-Maja

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like… NaNoWriMo!

November is approaching swiftly and that means…. So is The National Novel Writing Month!

Are you excited? Happy? Stressed? Disinterested? Homicidal? Wait…what?

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is the National…Well.. I would say international really, cause it’s..well…pretty international by now…wait…that’s not the point…what was I saying?

Oh right. November is the national novel writing month, which means that you can challenge yourself to write a 50000 word novel in a month, if you so wish, and put up all your progress and your word-count and shizzle on the nanowrimo page!

Every time I try to explain it to people, it sounds incredibly strange. Sure, you can do write 50000 words in any month of the year I guess, but in November, with so many people doing it at the same time and being able to follow other people’s progress, making it push you to do your own thing? I don’t know. There is just something about it which is so inspiring. If you want more info on it, I would suggest you go to the nanowrimo page I mentioned above, as I am clearly rubbish at explaining what the frick it is!

If you havent already guessed, I am doing the NaNoWriMo challenge as well this year. If you feel like following my progress, here’s a link to my profile. Feel free to add me as your writing buddy if you so wish!

Anyway. Yes I am doing NaNoWriMo (how many times have i said that name in this post? I have no idea.)

In the next few days I’ll be talking a bit about some NaNo-preparations I’ve been making, and that you could do as well if you’d like, so if you’re interested, stick around!

Until next time peeps.

-Maja