So far the entire month of October has seen me try to bring out my creative side, recognising inspirations and ingredients for creative self expression. I have considered creativity in the everydays and the mundane, and re-evaluated how being ‘creative’ at work helped me cope in highly emotive situations.
Now, as the current NaJoWriMo is approaching its end, I am prompted to think about my creative bucket list, and develop an action plan for one of the items.
I guess it is understandable that at this point, just days from November, I am going to choose actioning my plan to participate in NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (beats me why not international, though…), and so thousands of crazy people sign up to write a novel in one month, because why not. The idea is insane, but having a deadline, and fellow people who are also embarking on this mad quest, does help. Even if one doesn’t finish the novel, or, let’s be honest, the first draft, it does give a boost to those shelved ideas gathering cobwebs in the recesses of one’s mind, or notepad. If all someone manages is to write a hefty outline, or a questionable few chapters, I say it was worth it, because they made a start.
My plan is, however, a little different. Now, a novel is supposed to be a work of fiction, with characters, plot, and the works. I am not ready to do that, I don’t think. It would require a lot of plotting and planning and developing that I don’t have time for, and I need a plan before I can sit down to write 50,000 words. It’s true that I can wing a 500 word vignette off the top of my head, often with just an initial thought or feeling, letting my fingers do the thinking when it gets too much to contemplate it rationally in my head. But I am not willing to do that, times a hundred, in just one month.
So if not a novel, then just what am I planning to do? Well, what would I know better than what actually happened to me. Maybe something that I daydreamed, but that’s another topic.
I have the urge to write, and the perfect opportunity with NaNoWriMo lurking around the corner to encourage me. Having recently left a roller-coaster of a job where every day was so out of this world that if someone told me a year and a half ago what I will be dealing with, I would have laughed at them and said they watched One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest one too many times, I am ready to move on, but I don’t want to forget. The things that happened were real, the persons I dealt with flesh and blood, and I have this urge to purge my experiences, to put them into words so they don’t fade, so I remember. I want to know what it felt like in those first few tentative weeks, the ups and the lows as I learned the trade. And I want to examine how I became desensitised as time went on while still needing to take a deep breath or a minute in the staff toilet, to calm, to fight back the tears, to stop from screaming. The realities of working with people who have a mix of mental and physical health conditions and present with challenging behaviour, as they say.
In order to be able to tick ‘writing a book’ off my creative bucket list, the first step I took was to sign up to NaNoWriMo. It has a large community of similarly insane people trying to do the same insane task, so by signing up one immediately gets access to a group of cheerleaders. It also has built in tools like a word count tracker and provides little badges if you update your tracker regularly, a simple but probably effective way to keep you going. However, while the NaNo community encourages people to meet a certain word count each day consistently, I don’t think it is necessary. Some days can be just overly busy, other days you may not be able to get out of the chair as the Muse has chained you to the keyboard, and I think that’s okay. Some people might need the consistency, while others are okay winging it as and when they need it, and I think that should be accepted.
To write, I am going to use my trusty old beat up laptop and an old version of Scrivener, hoping that if I win NaNoWriMo I can get an updated version for half price. I am also using Excel to track my word count per scene/chapter, and because I have a thing for Excel, so what. To make sure that my efforts don’t go to waste, I am planning to utilise OneNote to save my progress automatically, although I haven’t decided whether to write in OneNote for safety purposes and then copy paste to Scrivener for formatting, or type into Scrivener as it’s less distracting… I guess time will tell which one I’m more comfortable with.
I have recently purchased a lovely and huge hug-mug from Wilko’s for a pound, and I am very happy with my bargain find, as it will allow me to drink excessive amounts of coffee and tea without fearing for the safety of my Naughty Nessie mug, which is the only one of similar excessive size. I am also slightly sad that I was in the same city as this amazing bargain shop for over a year and only went there twice, but maybe it’s a good thing, as moving now would be even more of a hassle than it already is if I had to pack the results of my binge bargain shopping.
As I have said earlier, the plan is to write a book (sort of) about my experiences. It will include character sketches, events that happened, and musings. I hope this exercise will help me come to terms with the past year, and help me remember all the things I experienced and achieved. On the other hand, I also hope that it will help me get into the habit of writing with abandon, without over thinking, as I am not planning the writing for publication or sharing, so there won’t be any need for a filter or editing really. It’s an exercise in self-discovery, remembrance and fulfilling a dream. My only hope is that I can see it through from start to the very last period.