A new year? Already?

Funny-fat-cat-happy-new-year-comicsLooks like 2015 literally flew by… and here we go again, New Year’s Eve.

And as always, it’s a very retrospective time. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you for long. I’m sure you have things to prepare, friends or family to meet and fireworks to watch.

So, what kind of year was 2015?

Well, that’s hard to pin down exactly.

For the world as a whole, it certainly wasn’t a good year. Terrorist attacks, wars, refugees, nationalist/fascist movements growing stronger and so many natural desasters – every evening I turned on the TV expecting yet another tragic or terrifying announcement. My heart sank and broke so many times that I totally lost count. My faith in humanity was at a constant low – so thanks for everyone who managed to (at least partially or temporally) restore it.

For me personally though, it was surprisingly okay year. 2015 brought some lows, but also a lot of small successes: I finished my teacher’s degree. I moved into a new (nicer and bigger) appartment. My cat Cookie – who is suffering from two chronic problems – has been doing well all year. I didn’t lose any friends or family members. And the list goes on –  it’s all (more or less) small favours, but I’m very thankful for each of them.

229656_10153210702212371_8439471006348626115_nA year ago, on New Year’s Eve 2014, I made three resolutions. Only three, and very simple ones at that, since I have a history of looking back the next year and realising I failed at least partly at everything I wanted to achieve. (Which is a common thing when it comes to resolutions, I believe ;) )

The most important resolution last year was the third one: Write, write, WRITE!

Given that I hadn’t done any serious writing in ages, I was sort of worried. But in February, I managed to get my first short story published, and soon started working on a few more (some results on whether they will be published are still pending). I joined an authors’ network where I was able to establish new contacts and make new (writing) friends. And finally, my personal highlight in November: I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, and ended up winning.

Currently, I’m working on another short story (crime fiction) and trying to decide whether I should do a second draft of my NaNo project (“Blood and Rain”) or return to “Solving Puzzles” in order to finally complete the first German draft. Decisions, decisions… but I bet the new year will bring a few more of those.

So my resolutions for the next year will once again be very simple. The most important one, obviously: to write even more. I hope this year will see the finished draft of a novel, and I’m doing my best to fight that nagging little voice in my head that insists it’s going to be mediocre at best.

tumblr_nzyidjnOjW1rmz12oo1_500Instead, I’d rather listen to the voice that tells me: Keep on fighting. Be grateful for the small things. Don’t let perfectionism get the best of you. And write, write, WRITE.

Everyone out there, have a great start into a happy, healthy, successful, inspiring, creative and downright amazing 2016! Let this be YOUR year.

Thanks for sticking with me in 2015. You made my year, all of you.

 

Just put one word after the other…

12065488_10205170510682849_8431973521092629330_nThe first week of NaNoWriMo is over. And what a week it was!

I managed to write 12 714 word so far, and even though this is only slightly above the recommended word count (which is 11 666 for day 7), I’m so happy that I’m close to tears. Yes, I’m not even kidding.

Going into this, I expected everything. I expected to not even find the courage to start. I expected to be unable to write every day (I have a job that can be demanding and tiring, after all). I expected to get stuck without the words or the will to carry on. I expected my inner critic to set in and convince me it was no use anyway.

What I didn’t expect though was to be able to meet my goal of 1 6667 words pretty much every single day (sometimes I went over, and only once I went under). I didn’t expect to sit down and be able to type for two hours straight, then look up and wonder where the time went. I didn’t expect to get this sweet feeling of “writer’s high” (better than drugs, I swear) after a particularly successful writing session. And I didn’t expect my story to grow and develop so well.

Pretty low expections, you might say. Well, let me explain. The short version, at least.

The experience of NaNoWriMo has often been compared to slaying a dragon – or trying to, at least. For me, it is exactly that. But the dragon is not the challenge. The dragon is something within me.

Once, I used to be able to write for hours, to create worlds and stories with ease. I used to be able to novel.

But then things of a personal nature happened, and I was unable to separate them from the writing. In the wake of this, I had to abandon an unfinished, ongoing story (something I had never done before), and that just added to it.

Every time I wanted to write, I had to fight those bad memories as well as feelings of guilt and incapability. My inner critic grew stronger and stronger. I had always been a perfectionist, but this was beyond perfectionism.

Yes, I was still writing. Yes, I was still plotting. But I was plotting to infinity, feeling stuck and unable to ever turn those plots into words.  And I was more or less just writing short stories. Good ones, yes, but what I really wanted to do was writing novels.

I managed to develop four projects that were all dear to my heart. I was longing to write them. But my heart was not into writing.

And then, this October, I was reminded of NaNoWriMo. I had wanted to participate for years, but every year in November, something else came up. Last year, I had my exam lessons for my teacher’s degree to get through, and back then I promised myself that next year, I would do it.

However, given my ‘writing trauma’, should I even try?

At this point, I decided that I had nothing to lose. This first of November, it would be do or die. Either I’d rediscover the magic, or I’d fail miserably. It was that easy. Yet I freely admit that I was scared.

Choosing a project turned out to be hard, but doable. Out of my four ‘works in progress’, one was already too developed (I had several chapters already written) and one was not developed enough (the rough plot was there, but there were still too many holes in it). And between the two remaining ones, I finally chose the less refined one. I also didn’t plot much – I had the beginning, the end, several ideas for the middle and a rough version of the main characters. And tons of details to fit in somewhere, of course.

The planner and the perfectionist in me were both terrified, but I felt I had to be this way.

And strangely enough, it seems to have worked so far.

What I’m already taking away from my NaNo experience is that I really need less pefectionism and more time to ‘just write’. Oh, and that statistics are surprinsingly motiviating. Every day, I’m looking forward to the moment when I enter my word count and watch the bars grow.

And I rediscovered not only my personal long-lost magic of writing, but also the fact that it helps so much to surround yourself with supportive people.

To all my writing buddies and all my non-writing-friends – I love you more than I can say, and I’m blessed and grateful to have you.

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Image (c) dundanim via DepositPhotos.com

To all NaNoWriMo participants: Keep writing. Word after word after word.

Onto another week of magic!