National Novel Writing Month

Each week in november there's a new NaNoToon to enjoy.

I’ve always loved to write. As a kid I read tons of books and made my own versions of them. For three years now I have participated in NaNoWriMo, which is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple: write 50,000 words in november.

It’s a challenge I’ll tell you that. Each year it’s a struggle for me to keep going. The first week is allright, the second week is absolute hell. After that I’m okay again. The hardest part of it though is when your creativity is low, you’re basically typing nonsense and you have to keep going. Sometimes it feels like you are ruining your story. Sometimes it feels like you are breaking the necks of your favorite characters, the ones you spend so much time thinking about.

The best part of it though is when you finish. Oh the rush! You finally got that story down on paper, you wrote some shitty stuff, but you also wrote some really cool parts. And a story is never finished after just the first draft. Now you are getting to re-reading it, and maybe editing it. I’ve found that re-reading is fantastic. You get to relive this crazy month, you get to see all the good parts you wrote and get to work on the parts that aren’t as good.

The most important part of NaNoWriMo is that the story is finally written down. It’s been caged inside your head, for probably far too long. I usually spend about 6 months thinking of an idea, developing the story in my head before I get to write it down in november. The story is my creative child in a way. And finally seeing it out in the open is really a great feeling. It also feel great to be able to say you wrote a novel. (Come on, try it!)

The NaNoWriMo offers a great website and  community with everything you need to keep writing and to have fun while you are doing it. There’s the Write-a-thons and the write-ins organised by various chapters all over the world. There’s the forum where you can talk about your issues getting your story together or where you can adopt someone else’s idea into your own story. The thrill of meeting so many people who are just as into writing as you are, is incredible.

I highly recommend you try NaNoWriMo once. It’s a great experience.

Until next time,

Vanya

 

(Image source: http://nanotoons.net/ ; The NaNoWriMo website: http://nanowrimo.org/ )

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Achieving Happiness With Goals

This is a garden I visited in China.

I love having goals. Goals make me do things and make me feel like I’ve achieved things when I complete them. For the last two years I made myself pick a goal for an entire year. Last year my goal was to do fun things whenever I got the opportunity. I’m very happy I decided that was my goal for that year, because not only have I travelled quite a bit because of it, I also met a load of new people, who I consider to be my friends right now. The reason I took on that challenge was because I was not happy with the way my life was going. I was bored out of my mind, stuck in a pattern of living that didn’t make me happy.

I’d decided on that goal in January 2013 and I only took the first step to achieving that goal by June 2013. In June, I went to my first Nerdfighter Gathering. The gathering took place at someone’s home about 1 ½ hours travel from my hometown. I was quite scared to meet all these people I didn’t know and I was really worried they wouldn’t like me or that I wouldn’t like them. Making friends wasn’t something I was particularly good at, so you can imagine my discomfort.

It all turned out great. I had a good time getting to know these new people and I talked to almost all of them. When I left for home at the end of that day people hugged me and waved me goodbye and I told myself I would go to the next Gathering too. From then on I went to a bunch of other gatherings, even hosting one myself. I’ve made so many friends and got to meet so many new people, I can’t even remember what my life was like before I became an active Nerdfighter.

The second step to achieving my goal was going to China in the summer of 2013. I’d always wanted to travel to places far away and since I was finishing High School that year too, I’d figured it be a great excuse to do just that. China was absolutely wonderful. It’s such a different culture and I’ve had an amazing time. Again, I met new people, tasted new foods, saw the Great Wall and other incredible places. Looking back on that vacation, I get really proud of myself for daring to go that far outside of my comfort zone.

Setting a goal for myself has turned my life upside down, in a good way. So I decided to put a new goal for myself again this year. Since I’m much happier now than before it was quite hard to think of a new goal. I eventually went with a much less fun goal, namely getting healthier. I have had diabetes since I was just four years old and I recently discovered I’m not doing as well as I should, so I’m working on that. I’m trying to eat healthier and to move a bit more. I won’t say it’s going as smoothly as I’d liked it to go, but at least I’m trying.

I guess that’s what I like about goals. It makes you try harder and it shows you how things could be different. Do you like goals and do you set them for yourself? Do you like smaller goals or large ones like the ones I set for myself? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

Until next time,

Vanya

(Image Source – Personal archive ; Video Source – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyQi79aYfxU )

‘You see but you do not observe’

It happens to me every day. I’m hurrying towards my classroom trying to evade the raindrops and in my mind I’m miles away thinking about the warmth of the building and I’m thinking of things to say to my friends once I finally, finally reach the building. But then I hit a wall inside my head. It puts me to a halt and makes me see things. I wouldn’t forget about what I’d been thinking earlier, but it just wouldn’t matter all that much anymore. Suddenly I notice that I’m cold and that my breath makes these clouds when it leaves my mouth and that my lips feel dry even though it’s raining. I notice that the leaves of the trees are dripping, that there are puddles on the pavement. I see the circles in them when a drop hits the surface. When my mind hits that wall I start noticing things, and I like that.

I am certainly happy that a mental wall that tells me to stop thinking exists within me. I can’t imagine living hurried and unconnected to the world. I’m grateful that sometimes my own body is smart enough to let me know it’s time to stop thinking. I’ve always tried to see the things beautiful and unusual around me, but I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded with that. Because it takes effort to actively notice things around you all the time and I don’t always feel like putting in much effort.

Do you try and notice things around you? I’ve experienced it can help you see things more as they truly are. You can find something beautiful in everything around you, if you just try. Doing just that might make you feel more part of this world. And I know I’m not the only one spending too much time on my laptop and the internet, so perhaps you could try it once. I dare you to make yourself stop thinking once this week. Maybe, when you’re just like me trying to avoid bad weather or you’re hurrying somewhere, you could focus on something you notice. Something pretty or something not at all that pretty. Try and really see it.

Maybe that old tree at your left hand has really lovely patterns in its leaves. It’s probably seen some awful weather over the years. Can you imagine that same tree as a sapling? How much has it grown over the years!

Or perhaps that ugly office building down the street. Don’t you think it’s weird that behind every window there’s someone working behind a desk? People who will leave the building in the evening and then all those empty desks will be quiet, unoccupied, resting. And there’s not just one window, but dozens of them! Each containing a different person and another story.

If you try to observe and imagine, there will be nothing ordinary about the world anymore. I like that. It spikes my creativity. I make up stories about everything I see, I only need that timely reminder to do that, to really see things and then continue imagining about them.

I’d love to know if you try and actively see things the way I do. Do you make up stories about random things you run into? Do you take time to observe? Leave a comment below to tell me!

Until next time,

Vanya

(‘You see but you do not observe’ – Sherlock (BBC, Steven Moffat)

Image source: http://www.neavelawncare.com/floridas-rainy-season-is-ending-now-what/ )

Blank Paper Panic

Writing is hard. That first moment when I open a new, clean sheet of virtual paper is a moment of sheer panic sometimes. I know I want to fill the entire sheet with words, but what words? What will I write about, what will my characters say if I tell a story? Will they be as amazing as I pictured them? I mostly end up not writing at all. And that, dear reader, is about to change.

I consider myself a writer. Yet as I recently discovered about myself, I don’t write all that often. Actually, I write only once a year, during November. More specifically, I only write 50,000 words, during November, when I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). ‘Well,’ I said to myself, ‘fine writer you are!’. This seems true. How can I be a writer when I just don’t write all that much? This fact is one of the most prominent reasons I’ve started this blog. I like to write shorter stories. They allow me to tell the things I want to say without filling empty sheets of paper with useless ramblings, as often happens to me during my writing spree in November. I like to put something useful down, something you won’t waste your time with, something that will make you feel inspired. A blog will certainly help me achieve that goal.

Being a writer comes in two parts. The first part is important, namely that you should have ideas and the ability to write down words and stories. The second part is even more important. The second part is actually doing it. You can be an amazing story inventor, with superb story twists and structured characters, but if you don’t write it down there will never be anyone to tell you you are an amazing story teller.

This is exactly what I’m practicing right now. I need to quit in only thinking about my ideas and start writing them down.  Now don’t let me deceive you, my stories, my blog posts, won’t be perfect. They’ll have flaws. I might be too serious at times or too shallow. I might make grammatical errors (because English is not my native tongue) and I might not make sense occasionally. I hope you’ll read through that and I hope you, as my reader, will take the time to respond and tell me what I did wrong. Feedback is one of things that will help me improve my writing. Feedback will make me write better and it will make me strive to make them better. I’m a perfectionist at heart and knowing that my writings aren’t perfect is a thorn in my eye, so PLEASE, feedback is appreciated.

It seems I’ve conquered the panic for my first blog post. My job now is to remain brave and keep filling the sheets of paper with my words, I hope, of inspiration. I’d love to know what you thought of my first blog post and how you deal with ‘blank-paper-panic’.

Until next time,

Vanya

(Image from http://familyhw.com/2012/09/write-on-the-power-of-putting-pen-to-paper/ )