My commitment to myself expressed publicly

So here is what I have shared with friends:

“Ok – so I only have to explain this once – pay attention 🙂

I am about to start nanowrimo 2014. What is it? – read this – http://nanowrimo.org/about

So as of tonight at midnight, I will be trying to write 50k words in a month, for fun. And until November 30th at Midnight you may not see me, except having me bitch and moan on here. Yes, pretty much the same as now. :p

I will only have time for work – if any materialises – sleep (yeah right) and the briefest random socialising – which will entirely depend on how ‘on target’ I am, with how many words I’ve written, how much work I have to do, and how good I feel about not being voluntarily shackled to my computer.

It’s not because I don’t like you. It’s not because I don’t want to see you. It’s not even that I think this will be a serious work of literature – although that would be a bonus. It’s just that I have to do this. I was thwarted in my last three almost attempts to do it, by work / life and illness. But I’ve not been able to find the time to do this since I last won it in 2009! – and that sh*t ain’t right!

This is about me proving I can do it, simply because I want to prove it.

So please understand, please don’t be upset if you invite me to do something and I respond with ‘Perhaps’. Please just accept that it’s another weird thing that a ginger weirdo HAS TO DO.

Thanks for reading. Now move along.”

So what’s your commitment to your creative endeavours? Do you share them in a public forum, in order to force yourself to act upon them and see them through? If not, perhaps you may want to consider it.

  • Set a challenge.
  • Share that challenge.
  • Complete the challenge.
  • Win the respect of… you!

Nanowrimo 2014 needs you!

Hey you! yes you!

[leans closer and tries to appear less-creepy] You look rather lovely.

[Cue beaming ingratiating smile] Mind if I tell you about Nanowrimo and why you should be taking part this year???? No? Cool.

Nanowrimo 2014
Nanowrimo logo

Let me begin:

What is this Nanowrimo that you speak of? – National Novel Writing Month. It’s a competition to write a novel in the month of November. And even though it has that pesky US-centric ‘national’ in the title, it’s actually International baby. that means anyone can join it… but only if they’re from Earth.

When does it take place? – November. So get prepping now. But write the thing in November. When you finish, you can spend the rest of the year reworking your work of literary genius.

Is that even possible – to write a novel in one month? – Why yes it is. In fact I’ve done it. And I was working for a real slave driver of a company back then and pulling funky hours in my day job. I managed to write it by writing on the train on the way to work and the way back and in my lunch hours, and then grabbing whatever time I could manage by writing at night or especially at the weekends. That’s right, 60,000 words penned in one month. Sadly, since then it’s not gone so well, due to work and illness getting in the way. But this year I am resolute; I will do this. And if you don’t believe me – click HERE. I was able to convince my very generous partner to give me some slack on the housework and social obligations, just enough (not a complete get out of jail free card) to give me the time to get it done. And I sacrificed a little gym time too. It’s doable.

Why would you do it?

Calvin and Hobbes cartoon
Writing can be fun
  1. Firstly, because it’s fun. No really! If you enjoy writing, as I do, and you enjoy a fun competitive atmosphere – by this I mean that there are plenty of motivational emails, forums and posts within the Nanowrimo community to motivate you. You can also get to meet other cool people in real life, by attending the writing groups and going to meet-ups. So that support network is there if you want it too. I flew solo the first time. It’s a lonely experience. But totally doable if human contact freaks you out.
  2. It’s great seeing those word counts increase each day and competing with others, and more importantly yourself, with seeing how much better you can do the following day. Yes it’s hella stressful when it goes a bit wrong. But when you overcome those barriers and carry on regardless, it’s a truly awesome feeling. if you’ve felt that ‘flow’ before, you’l totally get this.
  3. Curiosity. I was dying to see if it was even possible. Could I become a novelist? Could I walk that long lonely road? Yes i could. What doesn’t kill you makes you a cat or something. A cool cat. A feline with mad typing skills. Or at least, it makes you a little deranged by the end of it. But now that I’ve done it, I know it can be done again.

What if I don’t know how to write or I am not confident in my abilities? – it doesn’t matter. Have a crack at it. No one has to actually see the finished article but you, until you’re ready to share it. You’ll never know if you’re any good until you can get feedback. Consider it a practice run, with added fun motivation, for when you may later want to do it again for real.

What if I want to write a screenplay instead? – it’s cool people. Just do it. It’s kinda breaking the rules, but the organisers understand. After all they also used to do the very cool ScriptFrenzy competition (to write a feature screenplay in the month of April – which I’ve also done. Sadly it’s now no longer running formally). The words still count. There’s a community of like-minded people also doing it. Trust me. Heck, you can even take an existing screenplay and adapt it as a novel if you like.

So where do I start? – sign-up on the site. They will point you in the right direction – prep advice HERE. I’d also look for your local regional group – join them – and get busy. Plan away. You’ll need to have an idea of what you’re going to write. Possibly more on that later…

What do I use to write it? – you can use anything – even pen and paper at first and then type it all up later. use MS Word / Pages, a free text editor like Notepad / the ipad or iPhone Notepad app, or Celtx or Novlr. But if you want to try other tools – check out the Nanowrimo sponsor DEALS. There are plenty of deals, giving you money off the cost of various writing tools. Some of them like Scrivener even give you a free version of the software to use during the competition. I will be using Scrivener, Scapple and giving Aeon Timeline a try. You can even use tools such as the Livescribe pen or Equil Smart Pen 2 – if you want to write by hand and have your computer convert it to text you can cut and paste later.

Right, stop with the questions already. If you have more – go HERE to find out more.

[sighs heavily. Smiles and waves] Hopefully see you around in the forums and hear about your own Nanowrimo adventure. Bring free vodka next time. 🙂

New online writing tool: Novlr

With Nanowrimo coming up – I thought it prudent to mention a new writing tool I’ve just become aware of: NOVLR. It’s a new free online novel writing tool, currently in need of beta testers. Fancy a go?

check out: http://novlr.org

Not tried it myself, as I’m still deliciously wed to Scrivener (and also currently evaluating IAWriter – for use on my iPad mini, when writing on the move) but the feedback on the uncluttered interface seems positive.

Screenshot of Novlr
Novlr feature screenshot

Obviously you’ll need web access. That’s the only downside to this – you’ll have to be connected presumably, in order to access all of the collected work / features. Not a problem if you can blag free wifi in a Cafe. But you’ll have to use the export features if you want to take copies of your work on the move, when you can’t guarantee access to the online tool. At least you can use it via tablets and mobiles. Great news for Nanowrimo writers who jump on to different devices or fancy a change.

Nicole Perlman on Guardians of the Galaxy

On this episode of the SCRIPTNOTES podcastNicole Perlman, screenwriter of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – talks about how the film came about, how she was lucky enough to get her big break – elevating herself from non WGA work with indies, to working in the studio system – CHECK IT OUT HERE.

The highlights:

  • She won a major screenwriting competition.
  • Her script made the Blacklist
  • She ended up working exclusively under the Marvel intern programme for two years – and was lucky enough to be developing GOTG.

Production plan for Open Movie VFX film using Blender

Production plan for Open Movie VFX film using Blender:

This video – Open VFX Movies – has a very interesting take on using Blender (the open source 3D programme) as part of your production workflow for VFX films)

  1. Screenplay (CELTX)
  2. Concept Art (Krita and the GIMP)
  3. Storyboarding (CELTX
  4. Animatic (Video Sequence Editor in Blender) and Crappymatic (Animation with animated characters)
  5. Shooting (prepare props, casting, recce locations etc) – Used Blender to plan design of the sets
  6. Prepare footage
  7. Tracking
  8. Masking
  9. Layout
  10. Animation
  11. Compositing
  12. Grading

Check out Blender here.

Motivation from an unlikely source – that works for me

This is how I need to approach my writing / any meaningful endeavour (making a note of it mainly for myself):
(The text below is ‘borrowed’ and changed from the original source – written by Elliott Hulse )
“When you study other successful people, and identify a single activity that you’ve realized supports them in their success… that you think could work for you…. …begin applying that single activity to your life, LIKE A MACHINE!
… You will want to make this single activity into a “Keystone Habit”.
A keystone habit is something that you do automatically, every single day, that leads you inch by inch to success.
It is not some BIG magical undertaking. Every-single-day!  Without fail… just do it.
Because by practicing this simple keystone habit every single day you are also strengthening the virtue of DISCIPLINE.
Discipline is a tool, that once strengthened, you can use to attack the next, perhaps bigger, goal.
Identify a SINGLE keystone habit. Then work like a machine on that habit to build discipline.”
I do have a wide variety of interests and I love it when I can see parallels between a piece about losing weight / forcing yourself into a more disciplined workout regime and trying to teach myself discipline in my writing or other self improvement goals.
My keystone habit at the moment is writing without fail every morning and every evening – on the way to and from work. At least 45 minutes a day in total – even on days when work threatens to bleed over into my evening time.  It is the bare minimum I ask of myself and often inspires me to want to do more.
Thank you Elliott for your motivation and insightful words. They are relevant – beyond fitness alone.

Daily writing practice

Things I am going to attempt to do each day, to get back into my groove:

1. Brainstorm each day – (gather potential topics for future exploration, especially at the end to fuel my next session – reviewing them at the start of my next, if not already motivated by an idea or scene)….
2. Write every morning before work, on the train and after work – as a minimum part of my routine
3. Make friends with my Inner critic – ask his permission to make mistakes and convince him to back off a bit 😉
4. Multi-task to keep me engaged, but only when encountering a creative roadblock
5. Write about the ordinary, my life, a journal, if it helps to put the time in and open that dialogue
6. Force myself to have new experiences – to help overcome roadblocks – new writing places? E.g. Lunch writing in different spots
7. Try visual collages – to capture an experience if I can’t find the words. Page through art /photography books for inspiration.
8. Create musical soundscapes that are evocative of the world or emotion I’m creating.
9. Visit a new place, walking, a museum, gig, listen to conversations, allow myself to watch and observe.
10. Nap, meditate, pray… to the old ones 😉