Halfway through NaJoWriMo, the day’s prompt asks for a review / evaluation of how journalling is going.
And I have to be honest, I cheated.
The whole point of NaJoWriMo is to write every day for a whole month, and there are daily prompts to help with this, currently focusing on creativity. Well, I did write every day, for almost two weeks… and then came a little hiatus. Quitting my job and attending a job interview happened, so I guess those are understandable excuses? Right?
What matters though, is that I caught up with NaJoWriMo, and completed every single day’s prompts, even if not always in order or in time… To me, the month is more about self-discovery and actually writing something on a regular basis, on a variety of topics, than the timings, really. Sure, I think it’s fantastic to have the prompts every day, it would have been amazing to be able to follow them regularly… but, I guess, I am not as good at following rules as I hoped I would be.
This takes me to another point that became increasingly apparent to me, and that is, being creative with the prompts, sometimes obeying them, sometimes bending them to suit my whims. I mean, the whole month is about releasing our inner creativity, so surely I can be creative with how I interpret the prompts.
A good example would be days 10 and 11. First, I was prompted to come up with 3-5 character names, and write a few sentences about them each. The following day I was supposed to write a first person scene from one of the character’s POV. Now, I was really really struggling with this. I came up with some names, but I only wrote about one character, and a little more extensively than the one or two sentences I was asked for. In terms of the next prompt, however, I wasn’t really able to come up with a scene that I could fit around the character for ages. I didn’t feel I had her developed enough, and I wasn’t comfortable walking in her shoes, as I am a sucker for authenticity, and it was simply not there. So what I did instead? I wrote a dialogue string, starting with just one word, and building on it randomly, giving free reign to my subconscious to build a discussion. Perhaps not surprisingly, it turned into a couple’s argument over potential cheating, and it could, potentially, be a conversation between Day 10’s character, Sheena, and one of her love interests.
I think this is a good example of what this month is about to me – that is, creative self discovery. I am following the prompts to stimulate my ideas, but ultimately, a prompt is a prompt is a prompt, and not a divine law. Creativity is, I think, shaping an idea, expressing it your own way, and that’s what I have been trying to do.
All in all, I have been enjoying my NaJoWriMo journey so far. I am extremely grateful for finding out about it in time to sign up and embark on it, and I am quite certain that I will sign up for future instalments as well if I can. My personal favourite writings that have come out from NaJoWriMo’s encouragement include a piece contemplating my creative roots (Ghosts of Creativity Past), a homage of sorts to the people who inspire me (Inspiring People), and a list about what I would put on door signs if I had the guts or audience to shut out (Personal Door Signs). These posts involved no premeditated thinking or planning, I just sat down with the prompt and I poured my soul out through my fingertips. And I have to say, these led to the most revelations about myself, the most intense sense of gratitude and epiphanies.
Sometimes, creativity just needs a little nudge, a spark, a flash light shone in the right direction. Whether we follow the path, break the road or run the opposite direction, it doesn’t really matter – we will get where we need to be, sooner or later.