On writing a novel, one word and $1,052 for $97

NaNoWriMo 2010 is over and…

I finished writing a 5,0270 word novel for NaNoWriMo. I was happy, glad and calm when I finished writing the last sentence of my novel. I knew I could do it, and I did it! To write a +5,0000 word novel in a month was an interesting experience, because it taught me some new things. You can read my thoughts on NaNoWriMo in my previous posts.

What I learnt from finishing the novel is the following.

  • I can write more than 5,0000 words in a month.
  • I can write a novel.
  • I can write a novel without any outline.
  • I have stories inside me.
  • Sometimes characters play by themselves without my directions.
  • I wish I had developed my characters more throughly. I had read Bird By Bird byAnne Lamott and knew it was important, but I think I understood what she meant better by writing a novel.
  • I feel like writing about 30,000 words on different topics every month so I can clarify where I stand on these topics.
  • I need to work on my fiction writing skills.
  • Writing is fun.

In short, it was worth it.

One word for 2010 and one word for 2011

Here’s the Reverb10 prompt for 1 December.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I experienced a lot of changes this year. It all started with working on the Artist’s Way, and it seems to me that creativity was a big theme for me this year. Apart from the Artist’s Way, I took the online Ars Amorata program, and it helped me clarify my vision as well. I wonder what would be a word that encapsulates the year 2010 for me. To be honest, I feel like I spent a lot of time preparing myself for the next stage this year. The word ‘preparation’ might suggest something inactive, but what I did was definitely an active preparation.

If the year 2010 was about preparation, then I think the year 2011 will be about blooming. I would like the word ‘blooming’ to capture the year 2011. In 2011, I will explode as flowers bloom.

How about you? What word encapsulates your 2010? Which word would you like to capture your 2011?

$1,052 for $97

Adam Baker and Karol Gajda are doing something crazy. They are putting together 23 business courses from 23 successful entrepreneurs and selling them for $97 only for 72 hours. If you bought these courses separately, it would cost $1,052. It’s an amazing deal if you are interested in running a small, online business and want to learn from those who are successful in this area.

I bought Chris Guillebeau‘s Unconventional Guide to Working For Yourself more than a year ago, and it gave me some good insights on running the kind of business Chris does. So, I can recommend this guide to you. But if you are going to spend $79 for Chris’s guide, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pay extra $18 to get other 22 courses with it.

I was keen on quite a few of the 23 courses and it would cost more than $97 if I bought them separately. The ones I am especially interested are the following:

  • Guest Posting Guide by Chris Garrett – $17
  • Location Independent Lifestyle Guide by Lea Woodward – $37
  • Zero to Business by Johnny B. Truant – $297
  • Write for the Web&Beyond Bricks and Mortar by James Chartrand – $54
  • How to Live Anywhere by Karol Gajda – $97
  • Minimalist Business by Everett Bogue – $47
  • Beyond Blogging by Nathan Hangen – $47
  • Networking Awesomely by Colin Wright – $20

I chose to get on board with this super sale and I believe I made a good decision. If you are curious, check out the sale page here. At the time of writing this blog post, it’s only about 24 hours to go till the sale ends. I hope you can manage to get it if you are interested!

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Photo: aussiegall

No more underestimation please!

In the last 26 years, I quit drawing, writing stories, playing the bass guitar and making music. There are more, I believe. Do I regret that I quit them? In a way, I do. But not so much, because I can always pick them up again. It’s not too late for me. The point I want to make here is that I didn’t believe I was good at any of them.

My friends are talented. In fact, I’m happy to believe, whether it’s a delusion or not, that everyone I know or you know is good at something. Some of them are making it, and I’m proud of them. Some of them are not quite making it, and I’m still proud of them. But, I hope they’ll realize that those who are not quite making it are good at what they love. They just haven’t realized their potential… yet.

What about me? From someone else’s point of view, I might look talented. I might look good at something. But it’s possible that I don’t believe that I am good at it… as I didn’t regarding the things I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

It’s a message to you as well as to myself – you are probably underestimating yourself. If you truly see your potential, you’ll be surprised.

No more underestimation please!

Photo: oedipusphinx ― ― ― ― theJWDban

The art of writing shitty first drafts

I don’t have a plot. I don’t know who my characters are. I don’t have anything ready. I’m worried that I’m behind if I compare myself with other participants. All I know is that I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo and that I’m going to spend the next 30 days writing… a lot.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month is a month-long writing marathon in which participants write a novel of 50,000 words. What’s important to note about NaNoWriMo is this: What you’re asked to produce is a shitty first draft rather than a well-polished masterpiece that’s ready to be published. Quality doesn’t matter. Quantity does. (You can read the details here. )

Last month, I realized that I want to focus on creating. So, the timing of NaNoWriMo was perfect for me except that I got reminded of it only few days before its first day. At the time of writing this post (5am in the morning on 1 Nov), I can safely say I’m not ready at all, if by ‘ready’ I mean ‘having story materials handy’. My inner critic loves to pick on this point and insist how unprepared I am.

Here’s what my inner critic’s voice sounds like.

“Dude, you don’t have any plot. That’s horrible. You aren’t going to write a great story without it. It’s very likely that you’ll waste your time. Don’t even start it. Whatever you’re going to write is bound to be crappy.”

My inner critic may sound right. But he’s wrong. Sure, I don’t have a plot. This plotless state of affairs is probably going to make it difficult for me to write a consistent, non-crappy story. I’m not going to worry too much about it, because he is trying to mislead me. My aim is to write 50,000 words of a crappy draft and not a best seller novel. It’s totally fine and even apt for me to produce bad, boring boo boos.

Having said that, it’s scary to accept and to embrace this plotless state of affairs. This is the first challenge I need to overcome in NaNoWriMo. Can I accept my current situation and simply start writing anyway? I say I can. The first sentence of my novel is most likely to be “I’m going to tell you a story, but I have no idea what the hell I’m going to tell you”, and that’s OK. This attitude, I believe, is what underlies the art of writing shitty drafts. If I don’t write anything in the first place, there’s no way I get to write something brilliant. Embrace imperfections and dive in.

By the way, since I don’t know what stories are buried inside the treasure box in my mind, I can’t judge whether they can be good or bad.

Either way, I believe in the power of writing them down.

If my stories stored in my treasure box are indeed rubbish, I want to take them out of the box by writing them down so I cam make some space for new stories, which might turn out to be better than the ones I have accumulated. There’s no reason why I should keep old ones when I’m aware that they are rubbish.

Of course, those stories might turn out to be great as well. If that’s the case, there’s no reason why I should keep them only to myself either; writing them down and sharing them with the world seem to be a better way of handling them.

Through out November, I will make sure to report my progress on this blog as well. I want to share some lessons I learn through participating in NaNoWriMo with you too. Stay tuned.

If you are reading this post on 1 or 2 Nov, it’s not too late. If you’re curious, why don’t you give it a try? Your inner critic might tell you all sorts of things, but remember, your inner critic is trying to mislead you and to scare you away. (This whole thing reminds me of my post, Cat vs. Curiosity. Check it out if you liked this post.)

My account name on NaNoWriMo is Masafumi. Feel free to add me as your writing buddy on the site. Happy writing!

Photo: Ernst Moeksis

What fascinates me: Hooping tribe

My encounter with hooping was through my rad friend Kristen. I’ve known her since January and we read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together for 12 weeks. Kristen organizes a monthly hoop gathering “4th Sunday Spin” at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. That’s where I got my first hooping experience as well. I am fascinated by hooping and hoopers, but what I really want to talk about in this post is… or I should say whom I really want to talk about is… Kristen.

Kristen choreographed a dance for this year’s World Hoop Day – October 10. She made tutorial videos and they look totally fabulous. But what’s more fabulous is that hoopers around the world recorded their World Hoop Day dance and uploaded these recordings online. Correct me if I’m wrong, Kristen, but what’s going to happen is that Kristen will edit those videos and put them together. I think that’s really, really cool.

I guess the reason why I’m fascinated by this whole thing is partly due to the fact that I witnessed how Kristen got rid of her creative blocks by working on The Artist’s Way.

And connecting people with hoops and social media! It’s a great example of sharing your passion with others and creating a tribe… creating a culture.

In fact, it’s so cool that I will quit being an irregular hooper and become a regular hooper. It’s a matter of time, ladies and gentlemen.

I recommend you to pick up a hoop as well! It’s a great way of having fun and doing exercises.

photo: nizzzat

In search of a dragon (Day 24)

Could this be a synchronicity? I saw on twitter that SQUARE ENIX is looking for some new members for Dragon Quest’s scenario writing team.

(By the way, twitter has been one of the major sources of awesomeness for me. If you haven’t signed up for twitter, you should do so now. It might take for a while to get what it’s all about, it’s great once you know how it works.)

I’ve been hardly crazy about computer games for the past 8 years or so, but I once wanted to be a game designer. That was one of my childhood dreams. I wanted to be a cartoonist as well. So, I was into making up stories; I dropped it somewhere on the road.

Applicants are asked to send 1) an entry sheet, 2) a short essay on what Dragon Quest is for them, and 3) a short story/plot about revenge, written with 4 out of 6 designated keywords.

Whether I’ll be selected for this position or not does not matter much. I just want to write something, and this opportunity gave me a good excuse… or reason to write a plot. And I did write one. I enjoyed doing it – that’s the most important part. I had forgotten how fun it was to create a world and to imagine how things would work in that world.

I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster now. It’s slowly going up and I don’t know when it reaches the top, because I’ve got a blindfold on. But I sense that it will soon hit the top. Have you ever felt like this? Or are you feeling that sense of adventure and possibility now?

Year of creativity (Day 20)

This year has been a year of creativity for me. It’s mostly due to Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist Way”. It’s not an easy task to define what creativity is, but I’m happy to say it’s really common and we’re all creative. It comes down to choosing to be creative as well. I’m just going to put this here as my quick thought, but just like confidence, it’s something you get after doing something anyway rather than being able to do something because you’re creative. And you can choose to do things. It doesn’t have to be big. It just needs to be something. If you can choose to do it and you actually do it, you’re already walking the path of creativity.
That’s how I feel about creativity now.