Nanowrimo 2018 is here, and we should all be writing harder than ever. Check back at the end of the month for more Jobesome goodness.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has lived on my shelf for a while now, and I’ve promised myself for some time that I’d get to it. It’s kind of like a workbook with a program to follow, made up of 12 chapters for 12 weeks. Cameron must be doing something really right, because 2016 was the book’s 25 year anniversary, and it is still selling strong. And Goodreads calls it “the seminal work” on creativity.
The two keystones of the program are the Pages and the Date. Cameron’s original vision for morning pages was three pages hand-written, first thing in the morning. You can write anything, with no structure and no limits—you writing one morning could be complaining about a coworker, the next morning it could be your grocery list, the next an idea that just popped into your head. It isn’t mean to be Your Art, just a way to clear your mind. 750 Words stretches the definition a little, calling them daily pages, and that works better for me since I run in the morning and write in the evening. (If more than one of your habits recommends itself as your “first thing,” well, you can’t exactly have everything tie for first.) I do enjoy hand-writing, but I love the organization of doing everything on the computer. (Maybe it’s a generational thing.)
The other major component of the program is your Artist’s Date, which you do SOLO, just you and your inner artist. It can be an adventurous drive or a quiet walk, a visit to a store or a park or a museum; it can be anything you want that sparks your soul, but no one else is allowed to accompany. Of course, simple as it is, people (read: I) still have trouble. There are weekly writing exercises to help you stretch your wings and there are weekly Check-Ins to gauge and monitor where you’re at with it. The Check-In questions go something like this: 1. How many days this week did you do your pages? 2. Did you do your artist date? 3. Good stuff? 4. Bad stuff?
Here’s a quick run-down of how I’ve done with the first half of the book.
|Date Range||Week||Notes||Run||3 pts||750||Write||Date|
|Monday Jan 29 – Sunday Feb 4||Week 0||Gave myself a freebie week to ease into it||5 of 7||x||x||4 of 7||(n/a)|
|Monday Feb 5 – Sunday Feb 11||Week 1||got sick||2 of 7||x||x||2 of 7||Yes|
|Monday Feb 12 – Sunday Feb 18||Week 2||got new running shoes, started using 750 Words||5 of 7||x||7 of 7||7 of 7||No|
|Monday Feb 19 – Sunday Feb 25||Week 3||emotional writing||4 of 7||x||7 of 7||7 of 7||No|
|Monday Feb 26 – Sunday Mar 4||Week 4||Mar 1 started Blue & You Fitness Challenge||6 of 7||4 of 4||7 of 7||7 of 7||Yes|
|Monday Mar 5 – Sunday Mar 11||Week 5||I had a birthday!||6 of 7||7 of 7||6 of 7||7 of 7||Yes|
|Monday Mar 12 – Sunday Mar 18||Week 6||broke my writing streak bc I stayed out too late w friends||5 of 7||7 of 7||5 of 7||6 of 7||Yes|
|Monday Mar 19 – Sunday Mar 25||Week 0||fell off the habit, got discouraged, started up again||5 of 7||7 of 7||6 of 7||6 of 7||(n/a)|
Hello and welcome to March. Is the weather where you are as gorgeous as it is here? Yesterday I was able to wear a sleeveless dress (joy!) without leggings (wasn’t even cold!) and I even threw on some colorful jewelry. The Spring comes, and with it the season of looking and feeling our most alive as everything around us is waking up. Yay! (Yes, I know, I’m not very subtle when it comes to season-favoritism.)
March 1 marked not one but two special occasions for me: the beginning of the Blue and You Fitness Challenge (which sadly you can only participate in if your workplace offers Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance) and the beginning of the monthly Writing Challenge on 750 Words, which anyone can join and happens every month! I was pretty excited to see both Welcome emails in my inbox (and when I used arrows to block stuff out only to then discover that MS Paint does, in fact, have HEARTS.)
So, Fitness. What do you do for exercise? I enjoy swimming but find going to the pool something of a big fat hassle, so I don’t often manage it. Likewise I like the dog park but don’t take the doggo nearly as often as I should. For good ole dependable daily exercise, I use my trusty treadmill, set up in front of the tv. 3mph for 45mins means 2.25miles “run” (jogged? run very slowly?) while I bliss out to an episode of whatever I happen to be watching. Currently, The Magicians. Since I’m a really big nerd when it comes to visual encouragement, I made (found hi-res images and added the quote) and collected (google image searches) a bunch of little thingies.
But I would be remiss in my bloggess duties if I didn’t also goob all about the writing challenge. I started using the site 2/12 so I was too late to join up for February but using it has already upped my average writing sessions from 4ish per week to 7 per week, because I get a little x in my little green box in my little strand of green boxes if I continue to write every single day! And I am a total sucker for pressing the food bar. On the site you get stuff like this:
While in your email you get stuff like this:
I’m pretty into it. (You don’t actually get that pencil graphic, I stole that from a Facebook ad.) Are you excited yet? Because you can also earn badges like these (over there, on the side, no, the other side… grr, you know what I mean). Of course if you don’t know about the indelible connection between writing and birds, you’re in for a treat, because Anne Lamott is the bomb. (Do people still say that? The bomb? Well anyway she’s really cool.) I have no idea if the connection to Lamott is what Buster and Kelli were thinking about when they started the site up years ago, but it’s undeniably part of the ongoing literary consciousness now. In conclusion, go out there and kick this week’s (and month’s) ass. That is all.
Just a couple days ago I posted this on Facebook:
This is awesome, but I’m upping the stakes. You intro me, I’ll intro you.
The results have been unbelievably fun! Enjoy:
Kyle: I challenge you to introduce me and kill me in the same passage.
Agent R was on the case. His white tuxedo shone like the moonlight as he searched the crowd at the gala, his modern frames only serving to accentuate his dark eyes. His deep-toned skin had ladies of all shades catching their breath and staring, one even daring to brush his hardened bicep with her hand in passing. Sheesh, Agent, better turn it down a notch or it’s going to get a little steamy! Wait, steamy? Why was there suddenly a spray of steam in his face? The woman–it wasn’t a love squeeze, he realized too late, but the breaking open of a poison capsule, releasing the lethal dose right into his breath. No, Agent, it can’t end this way–
Ryan & Paige: The room suddenly exploded with color. Libraries are not normally known for their exciting or vibrant nature, but this appeared to be an exception. Having never seen color in action, they were caught unawares when a rainbow tsunami introduced herself to the room as a whole. “Hi! I’m Jasmine.” Before exiting just as swiftly as she entered.
Somehow, you never noticed the dullness of a room till all the excess color had been removed.
A flash of color and she was gone. “Was that a person? Did I just see a unicorn? Am I having a stroke?”
“Oh her? Nah just a highly caffeinated rainbow nerd.”
The tall lean man in jeans and form fitting black tee tips a hat at the passing rainbow, then sets his hat on the bar to run his fingers through his silky brown curls. He narrows his gaze, scanning the room with his big browns until they alight upon a figure across the bar. He walks purposefully toward her, his gait strong and unhurried.
The curvy coquette rolls her grey eyes, bored with the gawking crowds. Her form fitting red dress screams 1940s temptress, her dark curling tresses tamed in a complex binding of plaits. She sips her Manhattan, the perfect red of her lush lips leaving no mark on the glass. When the cowboy reaches her, she takes him in a passionate embrace that leaves him breathless, and he reaches for his mouth, curious at the object left there. A cherry stem, tied in a knot by the vixen’s skillful tongue.
Laura: And suddenly the room was a little brighter, the air a little lighter, and I couldn’t stop the smile that grew on my face as I saw Jasmine enter the room.
Laura stood tall and slight of frame, comfortable in her easy farm clothes.
“I’m here to see a gal about a horse,” the brightly-colored new arrival grinned, and Laura nodded sagely, pushing her brown hair back out of her eyes and motioning for the gal to follow her outside. There the stables were breathtakingly filled with the most glorious mounts know to woman. Mares of all breeds and colors, and Laura knew each one by heart, having raised them each since birth. The stranger gasped, delighted, eager to select one. The walked down the row together, the one wide-eyed at the newness of it, the other completely comfortable in herself. The horse whisperer smelled of apple blossom and cedar. The visitor stopped in front of a pale pink mount, admiring its pearlescent horn.
“May I?” she whispered.
And Laura nodded, unlatching the gate and soothing the mare with knowing care.
Sam: The band played a lively dance number. Two strangers at the bar spoke briefly with the barkeep, who pointed toward the cloaked figure at the table in the corner. The men approached. “The barkeep says you can help us.”
Jasmine looked up from her drink. “Five thousand credits.”
One of the strangers sat down. “You don’t know what we want.”
Jasmine shrugged. “I make problems go away. You’ve got one or you wouldn’t be looking for me.”
The two men exchanged a nervous glance before nodding in terse agreement, and the larger of the two spoke.
“I’m Sam,” he offered his hand, and she shook it. He was big and tall, a sturdy frame, and his deep browns shone out from a face dominated by a mighty beard. “The authorities have been -tracking- our movements of late. And we can’t allow Free Speech to be silenced, you understand?”
The woman sucked in a sharp breath. “You’re the poets, aren’t you?” Her voice was barely above a whisper, eyes darting suspiciously all around. “Word is you’re at the front of the Resistance. Is it true?”
The man blushed, tipping his hat in acknowledgement. “We do what we can, ma’am. Thing is, we’ve got something big on the horizon, and the opposition is getting too close. We need a decoy, a distraction, a–”
“Red Herring,” she supplied, deep in thought. “I’m in,” she stood and grabbed her coat, clinking a few credits on the table. “And this one’s pro bono. Let’s go.”
Rem: A high, girlish giggle drew my attention to the end of the table. A woman sat there, hands folded under her chin as she listen to her veritable viking of a husband talk. She grinned like an imp, dimples on her cheeks making me smile. Her colored hair was tucked behind her ear, and as I watched, she took the ends in her fingers and twisted it. She was like a little girl, full of glee, and in turn, her mood was infectious.
She could feel the man watching her, delighting in the attention of his glances. She looked over and winked, waving a little tinkle of her fingertips, and examined the man further. He was slight of frame, smaller than she might’ve expected, with a shock of brown hair obscuring one side of his face. He looked nimble, like the recline could be relinquished at any moment and the man would blur into action. He wore a whip on one side of his belt and a wicked knife on his other. The girl clapped her hands and tugged on the Viking’s sleeve, motioning toward the stranger.
Cody: She welcomed me into her warmly colorful home with open arms. Though I had never met her before, she seemed to be a friend from moment one. I was dazzled by the many versions of “rainbow” represented within her domicile, and jealous of the beautiful glow that exuded from her welcoming smile.
The small woman had the face of a changeling, pixie-like in high cheekbones and impish grins. He hair was long and flowing and her dress plain, but on her it shone, because she shone, and she could make a rag look like a gown. She seemed taut with unspent energy, ready to burst at any moment.
Karen: She entered with subtle confidence. Her pace was steady and assured. This girl was on a mission, seeking something, and her bright eyes widened on spotting her target. Me. I felt the color tickle at my cheeks when she approached. Her energy overflowed and her aura, warm and yellow like the rising sun, brushed my wide sense of personal space. She oozed vitality and vigor and I was overcome and nervous. Then she smiled, and I was at ease.
“Hi! I’m Jasmine, or Jazz, or Jobe. I work upstairs. Are you the new girl?”
“Yeah!” I could feel myself becoming stronger and more confident to mirror her. “I’m Karen. It’s nice to meet you.” Her energy was seeping into my senses and I was unaware at how widely I was smiling.
“Do you want to get lunch sometime?”
“Sure! I’d love that!!”
Her eyes squinted as her smile curled up. “Cool, just e-mail me when you want to go. Or come find me.” Jazz turned away and almost seemed to be skipping as she went back to the elevator.
Her absence leaving me surprised and oddly chilled. My co-worker returned and smiled and I asked him, “Do you know Jazz?”
He nodded, “She’s cool. A little odd. Her hair changes color all the time.”
I looked down, my eyes wide, a familiar feeling tickled and I thought, “Nerds. Is it that obvious that I’m one of them? They always seem to find me!”
Thinking back on that first lunch made her smile. Jazz always felt that gleeful energy when Karen was near. Karen was like an anime character–her face full of expression, the bounce in her step, the emotion she poured into whatever she was doing. Every new hair cut or hair style just exponentially multiplied her adore-ability, and how did that even continue to be mathematically possible?!?
David RM totally rocks!!! Get random writing prompts every time you refresh the page! My first few included” “My life is made up of seconds,” “perfect job,” and (one that really got me writing) “A list of electronic devices owned over the years.” I used this fantastic site throughout Nano and plan to use it year-round.
I was always told that the difference between memoir and autobiography is that memoir is about a specific time or event or sequence or theme, whereas an autobiography sums an entire life in chronology. So you could write several memoirs about different parts of your life, but you would have just one autobiography. Creative Writing Now gives some examples of memoir topics, and Writer’s Digest gives a list to determine if you want to write your story as true (nonfic) or false (fic). If you’re writing in the genre of memoir, you might be used to seeing lots of prompts for fiction. So here’s a list just for you.
Scholastic’s 20 (for kids but still good!)
Suzanne Fox’s 16 / 64 / 31 / 9 (do I say ‘hike’? I feel like I say hike…)
And if that’s not enough for you, well then, just head on over to The New York Times for 650 memoir prompts! That really ought to keep you busy for a bit, shouldn’t it?