Call me Writer 007 ~ I take my Coffee Shaken or Stirred with Words on the side

An image came up on my Facebook feed this week and sparked the idea for this blog post…

Image courtesy of: http://www.panyl.com/blogs/news/6369590-time-for-a-refill-study-shows-ambient-noise-other-people-working-leads-to-higher-individual-productivity
Image courtesy of: http://www.panyl.com/blogs/news/6369590-time-for-a-refill-study-shows-ambient-noise-other-people-working-leads-to-higher-individual-productivity

Coffee and Writers go together like Petroleum and Grand Prix.

Coffee and I began our love affair lustful addiction in a town on the southern coast of Greece, 50kms from Athens. I was 21 and on my first overseas trip to visit my BFF in Greece. I left South Africa innocent of the vice that was soon to have me addicted, enthralled and enticed. In Greece my two drink options were Coffee or Ouzo. With that first sip of dark viscous liquid (I am speaking about the small cups of Greek coffee not Ouzo. ūüėČ Ouzo is a post for another day. ) that looked like a cross between mud and volcanic ooze I was hypnotized and Coffee became my favourite vice. From there it was a short fall to sipping the sweet, strong, rich goodness of a Greek Frapp√©. (I am not talking about the Westernised Frappucino that tastes more like a milkshake than any cousin of the original Frapp√©.) The lustful addiction had entrapped me and I was lost to the rich, decadent embrace of caffeine.

Writers drink coffee. Writers love coffee-shops or cafes. There is an ambience to writing in a coffee shop that is akin to a GP racing car driver at a race track. Just like the aromas of petroleum and exhaust fuel excite a professional GP driver so do the aromas of caffeine and the inexhaustible supply of dialogue inspiration and quirky characters at a coffee shop excite the writer. This is especially true for the writer who writes full time. Writing is a lonely job at the best of times but when you are tucked away in your writing cave – just you and the voices of your characters – it can be very lonely. This is when a visit to the coffee shop offers fresh inspiration. You order your favourite order of coffee, tuck yourself in at a corner table, open up the laptop/macbook/pen&paper and start writing. I like to choose a corner table with a view of the baristas & coffee machines and a view of the comings and goings of the coffee shop patrons. At this spot, I can keep an eye on what is happening around me but also make sure that nobody sneaks up behind me: very important since my pages/screen tend to be filled with ghostly hauntings, chilling killers stalking my main characters and dark places.

Luckily great coffee is never difficult for me to find since I live on the northern coast of Auckland-New Zealand, rated by Conde Nast traveller as one of the 9 BEST places in the WORLD to have a Coffee.

Every time I drink a cup of coffee I am transported to the places I have enjoyed great coffee…from the coast of Greece to the souks of Dubai to the alleys of Melbourne to the many cafes of Auckland…coffee is a passport not only to creativity but to the memory of the places I have been.

There are still a few places I want to travel to enjoy coffee in…Rome, Vienna, Barcelona, New York but the top of this list would have to be…

My Coffee-Passport Bucket List

Paris, France

I would love to walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre in Paris, another of the 9 best coffee places in the world. Every writer should travel to Paris and soak up the literary ambience. I shall save that for the Bucket List.

In the meantime, excuse me while I brew myself an Espresso Macchiato and open up the next page in my WIP. Mmm I can smell the rich smell of that decadent nectar now and it is sparking some fresh words in the WIP.

Do you have a love affair with coffee? What are your favourite coffee orders?

Do you write in coffee shops? 

Where in the world is your favourite place to enjoy coffee? What place is on your coffee-passport bucket list?

Below are some of my favourite coffee-writer quotes and some of my favourite coffee orders.

Oropos, Greece – where Coffee & I first met

Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457
Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457

“Coffee. Creative lighter fluid.”
‚ÄďFloyd Maxwell

My favourite ways to drink the decadent dark nectar

Greek Frappé in Santorini, Greece

Image courtesy of: http://www.melbournecoffeereview.com/2008/07/a-greek-island-frappe.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.melbournecoffeereview.com/2008/07/a-greek-island-frappe.html

Make your own Greek Frappé

This recipe makes enough for one serving.

  • 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (Nescafe Original red label is the most popular brand)¬†
  • (Greek Nescafe is super strong so for all other Nescafe use 3-4 tsp coffee)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Ice cubes

In a shaker or blender mix together 5 Tbs water, coffee and sugar to taste.

Shake contents for about 30 seconds or blend for about 10 seconds. The result should be simply foam.

Pour into tall glass and add the ice cubes. Add remaining water and milk to taste. Put in a straw. Milk and sugar are according to taste. It is not obligatory to add them.

 РRecipe courtesy of http://www.ineedcoffee.com

Espresso Macchiato

1 shot of espresso top with foamed milk

Image courtesy of: http://bananaleafespresso.wordpress.com/
Image courtesy of: http://bananaleafespresso.wordpress.com/

“Coffee falls into the stomach ‚Ķ ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop ‚Ķ the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink ‚Ķ”¬†-Honor√© de Balzac

Espresso Con Panna

A double shot of espresso top with whipped cream 

Image courtesy of: http://www.steamykitchen.com/79-espresso-con-panna.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.steamykitchen.com/79-espresso-con-panna.html

¬†“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce” –¬†Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.¬†

Cappuccino

A double shot espresso + 2.5oz frothed milk + 2.5oz steamed milk 

Image courtesy of: http://www.gourmetcoffeecorner.com/tag/make-cappuccino/
Image courtesy of: http://www.gourmetcoffeecorner.com/tag/make-cappuccino/

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” –T. S. Elliot

Image courtesy of: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/lostgeneration.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/lostgeneration.html
Ernest Hemingway¬†wrote, ‚ÄúIt was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a¬†cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.‚ÄĚ

The Cost of Creativity: Unblocking the dam before it breaks me

*Warning: This post is messy and doesn’t sugar-coat the ugly truth and is a personal confessional of sorts*

Writing is hard work. Writing is especially difficult when you are expected to plumb through the dreck, muck & mire in real life dramas to find a spark of creativity. Non-writers who think that writing a story is easy have obviously never tried themselves. Life is no easier for a writer than it is for a non-writer. There is no “escape” from real life dramas. Real life is Messy at the best of times and at the worst of times it takes all your strength to keep swimming to keep yourself from sinking and drowning. Sometimes the mess that is LIFE drains all the energy – both physical and mental – out of you and you are as creative as a dried-up sponge with all the water squeezed out of it. It is so tempting to stop swimming and just let the tide take you. You tell yourself “It is not giving up. It is just giving in to the inevitable.”. You wonder what the point of fighting it all is for. Why bother to keep swimming if the tide is going to overpower you and wash you out to sea eventually?

The thing is LIFE is a journey and not a destination. Nobody said it would be a vacation. Nobody said it would be fair. Nobody said it would be easy. Nobody said there would be enough good to balance out the bad. Creative people are by nature more emotional and more sensitive. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and with every tear and every scar from our lives we flesh out our characters, shade our stories with emotional truths and try to make sense of the MESS. But sometimes real life truths are too painful to plumb for a creative spark and a kernel of inspiration. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is rehash real life in a story. Even fiction has an underlying element of emotional truth. And sometimes it is easier to believe the white lies than face the truths. This is when writing is hard for me. This is when I go into hiding from my own creativity. This is where I have been living for the past two months. Although ‘living’ is an optimistic term because really all I have been doing is ‘surviving’ at the best and treading water just keeping my head clear enough to gasp out a few breaths at the worst.

Usually writing helps keep me sane. Only 3 times in my life have I been in hibernation from writing and now is one of those times. I look at my screen and the flashing cursor mocks me. I take out my notebooks and try to write down words, any words at this point will do. But the words don’t come. It feels like I have a dam inside me just about bursting through the walls of my heart. I know I should let the dam wash through but I am scared the heaviness of the waters will pull me under. So instead I tamp down on the dam’s strength, I build the walls higher and bolster them with false euphemisms, easy white lies I tell myself. Every time I look at the screen or open a blank page of my notebook I know what I want to write but they are not good words, not a creative spark. They are dark thoughts, heavy emotions and poisonous threads that will weave themselves into a cobweb around my words and my creativity.

As I write this post I realise though that I am a writer and words are my way of dealing with crap that I don’t want to deal with. Which is why the cursor mocks me, the blank note-page empty of ink splotches mocks me. Because I am fooling nobody but myself. I don’t want to process the dark emotions. I want to hibernate from everything but especially words. Because one thing I cannot do is write a white lie to make things easier. That is just not how I am built. My words are the truest part of me. When I want to take a vacation from my real life I escape into the world of stories. I realise I have been blocking myself. I am my writer’s block. Hibernation and not writing is easier but it kills me a little more inside. I am the dam wall holding back the words, keeping the emotions at bay. Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING and that means the dark shades are as important to colour in as the light shades are. Perhaps the darkest shades are the ones we need the most because if there is no dark there need be no light. I am ready to un-dam those waters and let the dark words out so the spark of a match will lead me back to my creativity and back to my place of sanity: writing. I have to remind myself ¬†that even the rubbish words are still words. As scary as it is, it is time to un-dam the words. Otherwise I may as well just give up now. I am too stubborn to give up yet.

I am reminded by an old saying that some parents tell their toddlers: USE YOUR WORDS. 

How do you find the creative in the dreck of real life drama?

Have you ever felt like you were your own wall, your own block?

How did you work through it?

I leave you with the advice of one of my heroes: F. Scott Fitzgerald. A man who knew the darkness and wrote a way out of it.

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories “In Our Time” went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In “This Side of Paradise” I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming‚ÄĒthe amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the “works.” You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent‚ÄĒwhich is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

*Aside: For my writer friends out there, this is a great letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald about the price one needs to pay to be a successful writer. 
A little background, in late 1938, eager to gain some feedback on her work, aspiring young author and Radcliffe sophomore Frances Turnbull sent a copy of her latest story to celebrated novelist and friend of the family, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before long the feedback arrived, in the form of the somewhat harsh but admirably honest reply seen above.*
[Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald, via. Globe Bookstore and Cafe (facebook)]
***
The greatest creative minds don’t waste time telling white lies and don’t waste words sugar-coating the ugly truths. They dive into the deepest tides of that sinking mud and they get messy with the truth. They embrace the dark to give the light a canvas to shine from.

Related articles

Short,Sweet & To The Point

story

I have recently been stretching my narrative abilities through the medium of Short Story. This is a medium that I find very challenging. Not since High School have I really read or written any Short Stories. Last year at the RWNZ Writers’ Conference that I attended I specifically enrolled in a talk on the Short Story and on Novellas. Then this year I started looking at writing some Short Stories for competitions. This month though I am working on three Short Stories. One is for an anthology that I have been asked to contribute to. The other two are for writing competitions. So I thought today’s post would be focused on the Art Form of Short Story Writing.

What is the difference between a Short Story and a Novel?

A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas (in the 20th and 21st century sense) and novels. (Wikipedia)

A short story is more concise and tight in writing than a novel. Unlike a novel where there may be a number of incidences leading to one climax; a short story usually contains one incidence.

A novel can have multiple plot lines, different settings and a variety of characters. A short story has one plot that covers a short time period in one setting and fewer characters.

A novel is very structured in the traditional 5 point structure: Plot; Exposition, Complication, Climax, Resolution and Anti-Climax. A short story on the other hand follows a much looser structure. You have a limited space to write in so often the beginning of the story is started abruptly and often in the middle of action. The Short Story still has a Climax/Crisis/Turning Point. The ending of a Short Story is abrupt and open sometimes having a moral turn to the story. Short Stories that follow a strong moral or ethical theme are called Parables or Fables.

Now we come to the Length of a Short Story. The classic definition of a Short Story dictates that it should be read in one sitting. When talking Word Count though there are varying definitions. Often the consensus is that a short story is between 7000 and 9000 words. Once a short story gets to a count of 15 000 – 20 000, it starts becoming a Novella. Stories with less than 1000 words are called Flash Fiction.

The History of The Short Story

Short Stories find their birth in oral story telling. All the ancient cultures of this world have a base in oral story telling. Stories that were told to one another to pass down truths and teach lessons. These stories were the fodder for early imaginations. As children short stories are the first stories we come to hear, read and love. Whether we call them Fairy Tales, Bedtime Stories or Fables; these are all Short Stories. Think of ghost stories you heard sitting around camp fires or the stories your parents told you to calm you when you woke from a nightmare. In contemporary times, magazines are filled with Short Stories. Radio brought another form of media to the art of Short Stories. Short pieces are pieces of fiction to wet our imaginative taste buds.

These are the points to write a successful Short Story:

  • Have a very clear theme but Beware of being Preachy
  • Have a very strong Protagonist with clear characteristics and antagonist and a maximum of 2 other characters should secondary characters be needed
  • Hook your readers with a powerful first paragraph
  • Immediately grab the reader’s attention with an action or a conflict point
  • Strong POV – Choose 1 point of view to write from
  • Stick to one tense: Either Past Tense or Present Tense
  • Decide if your Narrator is going to be subjective or objective
  • Write tight and meaningful dialogue
  • Be very concise in your setting: Include just enough detail to put your reader into the story but make sure your detail only adds to the story
  • Set up the plot very clearly before writing
  1. Beginning – Start with a situation of conflict
  2. Middle – Present the problems (Rising Action) that occur from this situation
  3. End – Solve the problem. Keep the reader’s suspense by revealing the final point as late as you can.
  • Create Conflict and Tension quickly
  • Build this Conflict/Tension to a Crisis Point/Climax
  • Find a Resolution by showing your character has learnt and will grow from the Conflict you threw them into
  • Use vivid imagery
  • Use your words like a man uses water in a desert: very sparingly and with clear intent

Below are authors that were successful at both the Art form of Short Stories and Novels:

Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Virginia Woolf, Boleslaw Prus, Rudyard Kipling, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, P.G. Wodehouse, H.P. Lovecraft and Ernest Hemingway

Like with any medium of story telling you need to immerse yourself in Short Stories to be a successful Short Story Writer. Read Short Stories. Read some fairy tales or fables. Take note of what points the various authors use to make that Short Story a success.

What have I learnt from Short Stories?

I have found that dipping my pen back into Short Story telling is teaching me to be concise and to the point in my writing. It is teaching me the value of a gripping start to a story. It is teaching me to have a very clear POV. IT is also teaching me the essential tool of having FOCUS in a story. I have even been editing one of my full length novels with all the above points in mind. I think that the lessons from writing a short story translate perfectly into a Suspense / Thriller or Adventure story. Your words and sentences have to be short and sharp. You have to connect with the reader in a very immediate way that is very visceral in impact. This is definitely a medium of writing that I am going to continue to further hone my writing craft.

Have you written any Short Stories? What challenges did you face?

Stretch your creative muscle this week by writing a Short Story. You may just find that this Art Form teaches you essential points about writing that you have missed before now.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Writers on Writing Exercises

Monday has rolled around again and another week has begun. How are your Mental Muscles coping this year so far? Is 2011 being a kind year to you creatively? Are you feeling inspired? Is your Muse in daily attendance?

Today I have decided to post and share writing exercises that our favourite authors use. Often times the best way to learn a craft is to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. So I share their words of wisdom here with you today…

  • Ernest Hemingway’s¬†Exercise / Challenge

Tell an entire story in only 6 words.

His story was:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph.

Choose 5 of your favourite books and study the first paragraphs. What has the writer done that hooked you? What can you learn from these paragraphs?

  • Stephen King

In his book “On Writing” he says that he writes 10 pages every day without fail.

Challenge: This week set down a task to write 10 pages every day without fail.

  • Joyce Carol Oats

She writes in the morning before breakfast. She writes in longhand. She writes for a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour.

Challenge: Set aside 45 minutes in the morning to write. Put away the laptop, get out your pen or pencil and write.

  • JK Rowling

Unclutter your story. JK Rowling is famous for creating Harry Potter. But she is also famous for being a plotter. She used a 1 page gridded outline.The grid outlines the chapter, month, chapter title, explanation of how that chapter relates to the over-arching plot of the book, and then columns for each of the book’s six subplots (prophecies, Harry’s romantic interests, Dumbledore’s Army, Order of the Phoenix, Snape and crew, and Hagrid and Grawp).

Challenge: If you have not outlined your story. Outline your story using JK Rowling’s method. Stick to only 1 page for the outline.

Well I trust these tips and exercises from great authors will keep your mental muscles supple and flexed this week.

Happy Writing.

 

My Favourite Quotes

Wisdom
Image via Wikipedia

Those of you who know me will know that I am a confessed quotes junkie. If you didn’t know that, now you know.

These are some of my favourite quotes:

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere…
I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide.” –Emily Bronte

Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that‚Äôs all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that‚Äôs all we have – to hold on tight until the dawn.‚ÄĚ
– Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway…If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.‚úď”
-Mary Kay Ash

I Dwell in Possibility
– Emily Dickinson

Live.Laugh.Love

Every experience God gives us
Every person he puts into my life
is the perfect preparation
for a Future only He can see.
– Corrie Ten Boom

The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.
– Eleanor Rooseveldt


Write from your heart

Write from your soul

Make the best of your talent

And don’t Ever let it go

Not for anything…


The adventure of life is to learn

The goal of life is to grow

The nature of life is to change

The challenge of life is to overcome

The essence of life is to care

The secret of life is to dare

The beauty of life is to give

The joy of life is to love. – William Nathan Ward


today is your day

to dance lightly with life,

sing wild songs of adventure,

soar your spirit,

unfurl your joy. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller


I took the road less travelled and that has made all the difference.          РRobert Frost

We will only understand the miracle of life when we allow the unexpected to happen. Every day God gives us the sun and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. – Paulo Coehlo

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway

You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. – F Scott Fitzgerald

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ¬† – Mark Twain

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
‚ÄĒ
Rainer Maria Rilke

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For everything there is a season
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
– Soren Kierkegaard

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.
– Emily Dickinson

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.
– Richard Bach

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1606

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– E. E. Cummings

What are your favourite quotations? What words of wisdom inspire you?

Write Time of Day

squared circles - Clocks
Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
Ernest Hemingway

Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting.
Pete Hamill

“I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.” Henry David Thoreau

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”Oscar Wilde

“Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.”
Catherine O’Hara

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”
H. P. Lovecraft

‚ÄúIf you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.‚ÄĚ

Joyce Carol Oates quotes

“I write when I’m inspired and I see to it that I am inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” ¬† ¬† ¬†Peter de Vries

‚ÄúWhen I was a poor and struggling writer, I made a vow that if ever I got lucky enough to write full-time, I would never again write at night or on weekends, and I never do. I work from about 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 at night, and then I lock the door to my office and go home to my wife.‚ÄĚ – Evan Hunter

What is the right time of day to write?

Or put another way: What is your Write time of day?

I think this is a question that is unique to the individual writer. Some people work best in the early morning. The common term for these people are early morning birds. I am however, not one of these people. I find that the mornings are when my brain is foggiest and most resistant to all thought let alone creative inspiration. I am always envious of these so-called morning people. I am amazed that they can write before the sun even rises. Unfortunately I have never been able to do this.

I have tried to discipline myself into writing in the mornings. I have been doing The Morning Pages on and off for 2 years now. This is a method described by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. The idea is that you write 2 longhand A4 pages of writing first thing in the morning after you have woken up. Has this method worked for me? Yes and No. Yes, in that I am surprised that I can even think let alone write legibly in the morning. But No it has not made me form a habit of writing in the morning.

So why fight what your body is naturally inclined to? I am sure you have heard of the body’s internal clock. Everyone has one. Some may need new batteries but believe me, you have one. This internal clock is known as the Circadian Rhythm. It is also true that there are two main types of individual:

The Early Morning Bird or Lark

and

The Night Owl

For me I fall into the Night Owl category. I think part of it is that I like being awake and seem to think more clearly when everyone else is asleep. Another reason why I am a Night Owl is simply because the morning and day offer too many distractions. Birds are singing, cars are driving, people are talking. For the same reason, some people are morning larks. They get up at 5am before the sun rises and write until dawn. I understand the theory behind this but at 5am my brain, even if I happen to be awake, is sluggish at best and at sleep at worst.

There are numerous articles online about whether morning larks or night owls or more productive. Again I think this is mainly subjective and wrapped up with what works best for you. In the morning I am least productive in all areas. I usually need at least 1/2 a litre of coffee to wake up my mental system.

So why fight your nature?

There is no Write Time of day definitively speaking. There is only a Write time of Day for you as an individual. Don’t think you are less productive if you are a night owl. This is just simply how your body and brain function. For me writing at night is the Write Time of Day for me because it is also when I have the most time. During the day I have far too many distractions to be able to focus on my writing.

The most important element of writing is writing at the same time every day. Why is this so important? If you treat writing as a hobby and only write when you want to or feel most inspired, then you will find every excuse to not write. If you write every day at the same time, you are making a scheduled appointment with your imagination. There is also the added theory that if you do something every day for 28 days, you will form a habit. Whether you are writing full-time or whether you write part-time, it is vital that you treat writing like any other job. Give it the same importance as a 9-5 day at an office.

If you are serious about your writing, you need to get serious about your writing time.

So what is your best writing time?

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

 

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.


 


Adventure 2010

JUMP oFF
Image by aJ GAZMEN „ÉĄ GucciBeaR via Flickr

‚ÄúThe bold adventurer succeeds the best.‚ÄĚ – Ovid

adventure¬†|adňąven¬†ch¬†…ôr; …ôd-|

noun ~ an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity¬†:¬†her recent adventures in Italy.‚Äʬ†daring¬†and exciting¬†activity¬†calling¬†for enterprise and enthusiasm¬†:¬†she traveled the world in search of adventure¬†|¬†a sense of adventure.‚Äʬ†archaic¬†a commercial¬†speculation.

verb¬†[¬†intrans.¬†]¬†dated ~ engage¬†in¬†hazardous¬†and¬†exciting¬†activity, esp. the exploration of unknown territory¬†:¬†they had¬†adventured¬†into¬†the forest.‚Äʬ†[¬†trans.¬†]¬†dated¬†put (something,¬†esp.¬†money¬†or one’s life) at risk¬†:¬†he adventured $3,000 in the purchase of¬†land.

ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French aventure (noun), aventurer (verb),

based¬†on¬†Latin¬†adventurus¬†‚Äėabout to¬†happen,‚Äô¬†from¬†advenire¬†‚Äėarrive.‚Äô

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
Ernest Hemingway

‚ÄúNever be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.‚ÄĚ

NaNoWriMo is one week away.

1. Are you ready? Are you nervous? Are you cool, calm and collected? Are you filled with trepidation? Are you waiting with anticipation? If you answered yes to any of these questions, that is normal. If you answered yes to all of these questions, that is also normal.

2. Are you writing something completely new? Are you trying out a new genre? Are you changing from plotting to pantsing? Are you changing from pantsing to plotting?

NaNoWriMo is about ADVENTURE. It is about a jump off a mountain top, not quite knowing what might lie at the bottom. It is about learning to fly when you have always been told humans should not fly. NaNoWriMo is about being unsure, uncertain, bold, adventurous. NaNoWriMo should be seen as an adventure not a chore or a task.

Mundane events fill our lives enough that we should not make NaNoWriMo just another chore. How do you feel about boring chores like getting the ironing done or (my secret horror) grocery shopping? These are all things that are done regularly and are therefore normal. Have you jumped out of a plane? Have you explored in a jungle? Have you sailed around the world on a yacht? These are events that are EXTRAORDINARY. These are events that fall in the category of ADVENTURE. So instead of wondering where you are going to find the time in your day for a whole 30 days to write a minimum of 1667 words…wonder instead what will happen if you don’t make the time. Life can be normal and mundane or life can be what we choose it to be.

You might never jump out of a plane with a parachute. You might never explore in a jungle. You might never sail around the world in a yacht.

BUT

If you make time in your day, every day for the 30 days of November, to write 1667 words – you might just write a book. Now surely that was on the ADVENTURE list of your Bucket List? I am sure writing a book does not come under the mundane. If it is not mundane then it cannot be a chore.

This is a reminder for those first time NaNo writers that it is better to seek after adventure and fail then to not. Make this your challenge. Make NaNoWriMo your adventure in 2010. Attempt something new, risky and unchartered.

If you are an experienced NaNo writer, you may have many past NaNo successes or you may have tried and failed to write the minimum due to a common case of life-interruptus or even the infallible procrastinitis. Either way, don’t let NaNoWriM0 2010 be just another NaNoWriMo. Make it the ADVENTURE of 2010. Make this NaNoWriMo different. Pretend it is your first. Look at it with fresh eyes.

Sometimes when traveling, you don’t always have to travel to new places. you just go down different roads and make new adventures. One way to make NaNoWriMo a New ADVENTURE is to write in a style you are not used to write in or write in a different genre. There are a hundred different ways that you could make the 2010 NaNoWriMo novel different from anything else you have written. NaNoWriMo is all about sailing in unchartered waters. You might surprise yourself what island paradises you come across in your adventure.

So how are you going to make NaNoWriMo the ADVENTURE of your 2010? For myself I am trying my hand at a new genre. I plan on Making time every day in November to write at least 1667 words. I want to explore new places. I want to be able to hold a finished book in my hands at the end of it…a book not destined for file 13 but a book destined for publication. That is going to be my adventure for 2010.

One week left to pack the supplies in your writing backpacks. One week left to check your compass is holding to True Creative North. One week left to check you have adequate food and drink ready for your adventure. One week left to get your shots against procrastinitis and that pesky life-interruptus. Are you ready yet?

Enjoy this last week.

Anticipate November 2010.

Bring on the Adventure of NaNoWriMo.


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.