Tag Archives: writing

November – the write-a-thon month – is here!

Hullo, folks! I hope everyone’s ready for a month of furious writing! 🙂

Yes, it’s November already! Month of the Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge, NaNoWriMo, NaBloWriMo, and any other way you can think of tweaking that second syllable; it’s time to get cracking, dear fellow writers!

For anyone who is new to November’s writing fervor, I’ve given a quick introduction to the various challenges in this old post 🙂

Has everyone decided which of the challenges they’ll be taking up? I’ll be attempting the Poem-a-Day Challenge as always, but I still have till the end of the day to decide whether I want to attempt NaNoWriMo 😉 it’s a challenge as it is, and to take it up last minute…but I’m still willing to play with the idea, so let’s see!

As for other ideas, I was just thinking it’d be nice to try something like “a short story a day” challenge. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there already trying it! If I skip on NaNoWriMo, I might attempt something of this sort instead.

The point of November’s furious writing, for me at least, is to make sure you show up at your writing desk every day and get something done. Making writing a habit. It’s hard to do it all year long (though that’s the ideal), so if you can’t, start here–start now, for just one month. November. Your write-a-thon month. Take any challenge that suits you, and do your best every day. Whether you’ve got a chapbook or a novel at the end, the more important product is the daily development your writing takes!

So gear up, sharpen your words, and write away 🙂

Prompts for the Weekend

Today’s the first day of November and it also happens to be a weekend, so here are a few of prompts to get you started. Feel free to mix up/compound prompts or change words/phrases/punctuation marks as you please! There’s only one rule in November and that’s to write every day!

  • the first day

This could be about your first day at anything, like school, college, work, or your first day at your November challenge! It could also be about someone’s first day of–well, life! It could be the first day of reading something different, or writing something different, or living somewhere new, perhaps living with someone new. These are just simple examples, I’m sure your brain could churn out something much more creative than what mine’s giving me now 😉

  • “How could I have known?”

This entire line popped fresh out of my first November PAD poem 😉 there, it had something to do with communication and how we get to know things, sometimes without words. For your piece, it could even be about not knowing something had happened, but perhaps being expected to know. Whatever the line suggests to you works best 🙂

  • Dawn / Daybreak (+music prompt)

For this prompt, I won’t say too much, since it probably already has so many possibilities brimming in your mind; I shall only add that you can always change any prompt into a different part of speech if you’d like, like “dawn” to “dawning”, or just add that meaning into your piece 😉 I will also add this piece of music to the mix, so you’ll have a music prompt for this one:

(You could always make use of the novel/film association here, or interpret the piece individually!)

Happy November!

I hope everyone’s got a good start on their challenge(s)! I shall try my best to make regular posts with more prompts (I expect to have a little more time now, at least for the first half of November). Wish you all a very happy, writerly November, folks 😉

Friday Reflections: Change

This Friday’s topic: change.

Brainstorm

Before I put my thoughts into your head, go ahead and brainstorm on the topic change. Dish out as many words and phrases as possible about “change”!

Change

The word has several meanings. Perhaps the first thing you think of is the most common meaning: “to become different” (definition courtesy: Merriam-Webster). One could also be talking about petty cash. Or one could mean “change” as in, a change of clothes. You could extend the word to say changeup (like in Baseball), or even changeling.

Maybe you could create a new word compounding “change” and something else, to suit the needs of your poem or narrative!

What about common phrases or statements with the word “change”? Like “winds of change” or “be the change you want to see.” And they do say that the only constant thing is change – however much it sounds like an oxymoron.

Try writing a creative piece (poem, short story, anything!) that takes one such cliché phrase and gives it a fresh perspective or new meaning!

You could run a google (image) search and use some of the results as prompts!

More on Change

Ten years of writing, and I still try to tackle the ideas of change and changelessness in a lot of my poems and stories. And every new writing experience offers a fresh perspective on how the world works. Perhaps it’s because the very way we write and the things we write about also change with time.

The Writer in You

One of the things you could write about is how much you may have changed as a writer/artist, across the years. If you happen to save most of your work (I do; truly unique is this experience of reading your younger self after so many years!), you could go back and review some of your oldest stuff. My time capsule letter exercises serve this purpose: my changes as a writer become clear to me.

Depending on how far back you go, there may be obvious external changes while drawing comparisons between then and now– in your handwriting (the difference was…too great, in my case) or grammar. Your style may have changed significantly. The themes you cover in your writing may have changed. What had you given importance to then? What do you give importance to now?

Your preference in writing forms and genres may have also changed! Perhaps you use different literary devices now compared to then!

Obviously, we also experience change on a psychological level.

What had you expected of yourself as a writer all those years ago? What drove you as a writer in the beginning? Is your motivation the same?

Of course, we change not only as writers, but as people.

Are there things about yourself you wish wouldn’t change, even five, ten, or twenty years from now?

Perhaps, on the contrary–there is something in yourself that you wish desperately to change?

Don’t forget to explore the reasons behind all of your answers!

The Changing World

Apart from reading and writing, writers constantly have to observe the world around them. Great literature has acted as a mirror, faithfully reflecting the way the world worked; it has also acted like a lamp (think M. H. Abrams’ The Mirror and the Lamp) – as Wikipedia says:

In a powerful contrast, Abrams shows that until the Romantics, literature was usually understood as a mirror, reflecting the real world, in some kind of mimesis; but for the Romantics, writing was more like a lamp: the light of the writer’s inner soul spilled out to illuminate the world.

How does your writing reflect the world around you? How do you capture the changing world, or perhaps the changeless world, in your work?

Happy Writing!

Before I close, I’ll just share a link to this blog post, in which Mr. Brewer questions what it means to be a writer in this day and age. The publishing industry has changed drastically over the past decade thanks to the ebook revolution; being “published” has a whole new meaning, now. So these changes within our field of work are something else you could journal about!

With that, I’ll sign off! Happy writing, folks~ 🙂

Friday Reflections: The Figure a Poem Makes

Happy Friday, everyone! For today’s reflections, here’s the topic and question:

What is “the figure a poem makes” for you?

Of course, I’m not just talking about Mr. Frost’s essay titled the same. And when I say “poem”, I mean all kinds of art!

It ought to be…

We all have our ideas about writing, or creating art of whatever kind. We all have our preferences, have our beliefs about what makes for the best poem, the best novel, the best painting… Different audiences will obviously have different interests:

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Mr. Frost believed that a poem “must ride on its own melting“, that it ought not be “worried into being” – when one is in the act of creating, one should flow with the creativity.

Some may firmly believe that one needs to work every aspect of a work over, quite meticulously, and from beginning to end, for it to achieve the greatest effect.

Naturally, not everyone feels the same way about the act of creating. But there is usually this common idea: A poem should carry the writer away, and only then will it carry the reader away. This is one of Mr. Frost’s key points, Mr. King expresses something quite similar:

You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
-Stephen King

This is most important. Unless one has been touched, how can expect to touch another? Whether touched emotionally or intellectually, or both, it is the experience of it that teaches us best what works in any art.

Most writers like to write the genre they read the most, since it resonates with them the best.

What it means to you

So what is the figure a poem makes for you? What do you like to read or watch? Should it be short or long, rhymed, unrhymed, its language simple or erudite?

If you go back and read what you’ve created, how similar is it to what you read?

Think about those all-time favorite novels you love to read — has your work touched your readers the way these favorites have touched you?

For those that prefer to read and to write two completely different genres: how or why do you think that is?

What “figure” do you believe a poem should make? (Again, replace “poem” with any kind of art.) How do you think this figure should be achieved?

Give an essay on what the process of creativity is for you!

You could write it in prose like Mr. Frost did; it could be about all art, or just one kind, or just one particular piece of work of yours or someone else’s. You could write a letter to someone asking you about your process of creating. Or maybe a diary-entry about your day at work, being a writer! How did you get your work done?

It could be a poem about writing poems! Here’s an excerpt from my attempt at this a few months ago:

you’re holding the pen so
you hold all the possibilities;
your imagination is
its direction, limitless
as long as your thoughts are limitless.

let go of unbelief
embrace the pen
give every poem a chance
to realize itself
and you’ll create them
in the process.

Are you following your own guidelines in creating something (about creativity)? 😉

Personally, my process is a lot like what Mr. Frost talks about.

For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew.

I love getting into the flow and letting the currents take me where they will; and I love being surprised at the end, even if I’m the one doing the creating! It’s a wonderful feeling. Indeed, for me, too, this is the most precious quality of a poem:

Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it.

Have fun exploring your own creative process! I wish everyone happy writing & a happy weekend! 🙂

Friday Reflections: A Room of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
-Virginia Woolf

These famous words, which form the premise of Ms. Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, have changed the way the world looks at Women and Fiction. The text is indeed a remarkable one, offering much insight into human nature, society, history (really, about so much more than I could do justice to in a single post). Reading it was a most thought-provocative experience for me 🙂

And I’d like to take that point which Ms. Woolf makes, about needing a room of one’s own to write fiction, for the sake of this Reflections post.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read Ms. Woolf’s piece – in fact, that way you could try a before & after exercise – write down how you feel about that first statement before reading her work, then read it, and comment on how you feel after you’ve read it!

Money & a Room of One’s Own

ImageHow do you feel about Ms. Woolf’s statement? Do you agree or disagree with it? (You might not even agree/disagree with it totally, perhaps only partially.)

Do you think it is irrelevant, or find it valid even in today’s world?

What do you feel she means by “money” and “a room of one’s own“?

From your personal experience as a writer (or artist of any kind), are you led to think of these (the “money” and “room”) in a very literal way? Or are they, to you, more symbolic than currency notes & four walls, a floor, and a ceiling to call your own studio?

Do you identify with the “woman” Ms. Woolf speaks of? If you do not, do you still identify with the statement – at least, the rest of it?

What does the creative mind need?

I read Ms. Woolf’s statement and I think of it in the context of creativity. Not necessarily in a feminist perspective, just in the perspective of unleashing creativity.

Does the act of creativity require financial security, as Ms. Woolf claims? There have been artists who strived to improve their art even in the poorest of financial conditions. But certainly, I thought, to not have to worry about making ends meet would be a relief, a burden off of one’s mind, so that one may concentrate on the act of creating and only that.

And, does one need “a room of one’s own”? What kind of space would that be? A physical space that offers quietude? And the space, in society, to think freely and let one’s thoughts glide, unimpeded. But this freedom was not granted at the time.

“Literature is open to everybody. I refuse to allow you, Beadle though you are, to turn me off the grass.
Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no
bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf

Rooms of our own

How do you feel about your own “money” and “room”? Do you feel like you’ve got everything you need to create (art)?

What do you feel are the issues the fields of literature and art face today – when it comes to whose words are read, and whose remain unread, or worse — unwritten? When it comes to whose voices are heard, and whose remain unheard, or worse — are silenced?

The world is a lot more open-minded than it was at the time of Ms. Woolf’s writing A Room of One’s Own. How much have things changed? Just taking a look at the blogosphere, we see an abundance of creative minds expressing themselves openly, with nothing to hinder them. In this world, where we certainly seem to have enough rooms of our own on the internet, who are the ones still without their freedom?

There’s a lot to write about – poems about writing, expressing, poems about being unexpressed, narratives about freedom…

So here I’ll sign off, leaving my fellow writers to their ruminations 🙂 and this request from Ms. Woolf:

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Dig deep folks! Happy writing! 🙂

Being a writer.

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Sometimes, I catch myself going several extra miles to write. And those are the times when I know I was meant to do this.

The Writer’s profession is often romanticized. Like writing is fuelled by some mystical fervor, like there’s some sort of magic behind it.

Really, most of the time, it’s nothing mystical at all.

It’s hard work at the desk, drilling away at the keys for hours together. A lot of the time is spent typing, then backspacing, then typing, then backspacing. Staring at the blank screen, beating oneself up for not being able to come up with anything that’s even remotely literate.

Well. That doesn’t sound fun.

Then…why? Why go through it all? When it’s just like everything else in the world – 99% sweat and just 1% inspiration? And perhaps even less lucrative than the other things in the world, for the same effort?

My ‘Because’:

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(Source) You’re willing to beat the blackout with a candlelight and do it the old fashioned way – not easy, but you do it because you feel like you must write.

It’s for the 1% of inspiration that I’m willing to sweat it out 99% of the time.

I just know it, on those special days, when I’m writing, and the words flow a little easier.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to where I want to go as a writer. But the best I can do is answer to the calling.

How I knew

I’ve been writing for about ten years now. And one experience, around six years ago, made me consider myself as a writer seriously.

I was lying awake late into the night (around 2 a.m.). While muttering some dialogue exchanges to myself, I heard something I liked and thought, hey, I’m not getting any sleep anyway. Let’s write.

I got out of bed, started writing a short story.

Pounded away at the keys. Might have paused to think for small details or pivotal plot points. But mostly, kept writing. Kept going. Got the story done.

I checked the time after I wrote the last line.

5:30 a.m.

First reaction was, Dang. It’s morning already.

In retrospect, I think I’d have dismissed it all if that story had just been average and the characters, weak. But I genuinely liked the result. So I knew.

First novel.

Later that year, I started working on my first novel. It’s terribly amateurish, but the madness with which I wrote it is what mattered. In my obsession, I was writing paragraphs for it in my head in the midst of my exams. There in the exam hall, right in the middle of answering the questions…my characters and my plot invading my thoughts.

I went home, went straight to my laptop. Didn’t get out of my uniform, didn’t have lunch. For an hour or two, just typed through all those paragraphs I’d built up during the exam, and then some.

At the end of it all, listening to my mother riling at me for having lunch so late, I was sure again.

How I still know

What brought this post about was another such experience, a very recent one. Last night’s.

I’m short-sighted and my power is ridiculously high. I can’t read these words on the screen if they’re more than 15cm away (without my glasses, I mean). And the frame of my glasses broke yesterday evening; for some profoundly idiotic reason, I hadn’t gotten myself a spare. The guy at the shop said it’ll at least take a day to fix. Somewhat visually impaired, I couldn’t get much work done.

But my WIP just wouldn’t get out of my head.

It was probably a bad idea, worse for my eyes, but I worked on it anyway. With my head absurdly close to my laptop screen, I typed. Worked for maybe an hour. It was uncomfortable, difficult and a little strenuous. I could have waited a day, saved myself the pain.

But we all know by now, right? I couldn’t not write!

How do you know?

Writing has become an activity I can’t live without doing. Can’t go even a few days without writing something at least. And I learn a lot about life, being a writer. You have to go out of your way for it. You have to do all the things the world expects you to, and somehow fit this in.

When people, women included, hear that you are writing, they assume that it is simply a hobby to fill in the time between doing the washing-up and the ironing.
-Rachel Billington

But being able to do what I love is definitely worth the fight.

By now, it doesn’t even matter if what I’m writing is any good. I’ll keep going because I can’t stop 🙂 Guess Mr. Hemingway was right:

Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.

What keeps you going? Why do you write?

Every writer has his/her reasons, motivations. Search yourself for those exact moments when you figured them out. Have you had any experiences like these in the recent past?

And how’s it been? Being a writer? 🙂

Friday Reflections: Why We Must Read

The days have been long — life’s kept me offline for a couple of weeks, but I’m back for this Friday’s post!

Today, I want to share my experience as a reader – which is most vital to me as a writer.

“We read to know that we are not alone.”
― William Nicholson

A awful lot has been said about the importance of reading. Read, read, read. Everyone advises us to read. To devour books.

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
― William Styron

Books bring different people and their worlds close to us. All at once, the world becomes smaller and our vision, wider.

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Why I read

I hated reading books when I was younger. Books were forced on me in Reading/Literature classes in school and I was always lazy about reading them, reviewing them, whatnot. We learnt about Plot and Setting and POVs.

And I was bored.

I had other preferences: fiddling around with different software on the home PC.

But everything changed when I was eleven, and I had a splendid teacher who taught me that books could have so much meaning and could reach out to our feelings, connect with us. And this epiphany happened during a literature class, and one particular book changed everything for me.

“We read to know that we are not alone.”

I began to read.

Began searching for those compelling characters – characters who pulled me into their stories so completely that I would lose myself in someone else’s thoughts, words, emotions…someone else’s world.

I saw so much more in my own world after reading just one book. Every book I read became another life lived, or a portion of another life.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin

My fascination did not stop there.

“Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
-William Faulkner

I wanted to be able to do what those great writers did. Touch the souls of hundreds of readers. Share different people and different worlds with everyone else. Be a part of this magic. And then, suddenly, all those classes from school – about Plot and Setting and POVs – became so precious to me.

Because I read…

Because I read, I know.

Because I read, I know the power of words.

Because I read, I know that even just one book can change a life – for, one book, which I read as an eleven-year-old, has already changed mine completely.

Because I read, I can live more than just one life.

Writers must read

When you read, you slowly imbibe the craft of writing. Often, this happens without the reader even realizing it. You learn about sentence structure, the construction of plot, characterization, symbolism. You learn to express yourself clearly.

And also…

Mr. King has already explained in very simple words:

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing, when it has not been done to you.”
-Stephen King

You learn, by having your own soul swept away by someone else’s words, how to do the same.

What about You?

Everyone has their own experience with reading. They start for different reasons, at different stages in life.

For me, reading had such an impact that I’ve taken Literature in college, and spend a majority of my time reading & writing. Some people enjoy reviewing books, either on blogs or in a newspaper column. For some, reading is their favorite pastime, giving them respite from real life.

What’s your reason? Think about your favorite genre of books, think about why that’s your favorite? What appeals to you the most? If you write, is that the same genre you write as well?

There is, of course, a lot more that can be said – but I think I’ve said enough for now 😉

Dig deep, write on! 😀