Tag Archives: OctPoWriMo

Rogue Muses or Overbearing Ones, We Got All Kinds Here

Last week Amanda talked about her rogue muse, Myrtle, and how Myrtle is driving her insane. (My word, not Amanda’s but I bet she’d agree with me.)

I don’t know if I’d rather have her muse or mine. Mine does not have a name because mine likes to change identities half the time. Mine is also being a little overbearing lately. And a workaholic. It isn’t enough that she’s got me participating in a poetry challenge, which I can handle just fine, but she also has me participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those who need to have it spelled out). And that means prepping for a long month of writing.¬†Oh, and let’s top that off with agreeing to write a short story (5-10k words) for a murder mystery novella with a deadline of December 1st.

Yeah. She may have bitten off more than I can chew.

But that’s the fun/insane thing about being a writer. You never know what you’re going to find yourself getting into. Take for instance the poetry challenge I’m doing. Last year I joined thanks to CJ’s gentle nudging. (It really was-CJ is a subtle witch-she says “hey, you should do this” and then she begins writing some lovely words and I can’t resist.) I joined late but began writing two poems a day to catch up (because I could, not because I had to). By the time the challenge was coming to a close I was writing three poems a day. It was a lot of fun and I met new people and ended up with quite a bit of poetry in my repertoire.

Now take NaNo. I joined that last year as well, thanks to AJ. She’s not so subtle. She’s more like “you should do it because I’m doing it and you should do it.” Did I mention she was holding a sledgehammer at the time? (Okay, not really. She’s not that violent…or is she? ūüėČ ) During NaNo I began writing something I thought would be my first book. And I was doing well until midway through a bad head cold/infection cold-cocked me and took me out of the game for good. It was awful. You’d think that would put me off NaNo. But you’d be so wrong. I’m doing it again this year. What could possibly go wrong this time? (I know, I’ve just invoked the Writing Gods’ perverse sense of humor. What can I say? I like a good challenge.)

Amanda always asks us in group what our writing goals are. I may be one of the few that can look her in the eye without flinching, or fidgeting under her steely gaze, and give her an acceptable answer. I have more than enough goals and writing going on right now, and I think both Amanda, and my muse, should be happy with that.

And me, well, tune in next month to watch me become a sleep-deprived, raving lunatic.

Have a great week.

Jesi

The Hardest Part of Writing

This past Thursday I began the annual October Poetry Writing Month Challenge¬†(OctPoWriMo). CJ got me started on it last year and I couldn’t wait for it to begin this year. And boy, did it ever start. I’ve already had two challenges that gave me pause. One was to write cinematically and the other was to write a shape poem on the subject of showing up. And BOOM, baby! I knew what to use as my subject for today’s post here.

Writing is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. To sit down in a chair and write for a set period of time is not natural, and the inclination is to procrastinate. To find anything else other than what you should be doing, i.e. writing. So, the hardest part of writing is showing up.

What I mean is to be focused on what you are doing. It’s relatively easy to become distracted. Let’s see, there’s Facebook, or Twitter, or, oh yeah, what was that thing on Amazon you were looking at? Or maybe there’s some housework that needs to be done, or you really should take that walk you’re supposed to be taking. Guess what…you aren’t showing up. In fact, there’s nothing being written because other things have taken your time and attention.

Now, I’m not talking about those things that really need taking care of, e.g. kids needing to be fed, dogs needing to be walked, the tire changed on the car. Obviously, family (and laundry) is important. But, I’m fairly certain that you can do without all the drama on Facebook for at least thirty minutes.

This is why I like doing writing challenges. They force me to show up, and that, in turn, sharpens my skills and strengthens my weaknesses. Especially when I’m doing an online blog challenge. I get immediate feedback from different readers and their viewpoints are invaluable. In minutes I can tell if I need to change POV or if I’ve missed something. Is the poem I wrote subpar or should I consider adding it to a future collection folder? What needs tweaking and what did I do right?

The two prompts that I was especially challenged by nearly had me stumped. Writing cinematically was a prompt where we had to view our favorite movie, scene, or video, mute it, and view it without sound. We then had to write a poem in such a way as to express the way the scene came across to us. Well, I don’t have a particularly favorite movie or video so I chose a scene from Sir Ian McKellen’s 2008 performance of King Lear. The scene itself had moved me to torrential sobbing. Sir Ian is like a grandfather figure to me and so the end scene is heart-wrenching. I didn’t much like the poem I wrote (read here), but I was surprised by how many people were moved by my words. I showed up and put a lot of thought and focus into it, even using two phrases from the play to emphasize Lear’s frame of mind. (By the by, this is an excellent exercise to utilize sensory perception-take away all sound and write only what you see.)

The other prompt was difficult only because I really do not like writing shape poetry. That’s where you write a poem whose form is a visual shape on the page. Think Shel Silverstein:

shel

The day I was supposed to write for this prompt ended up being incredibly busy, but I still pushed it off for as long as I could. I REALLY don’t like writing shape poetry (probably because my illustrative skills suck-Joe, feel like giving me some lessons?). But still, I showed up and completed the challenge:

Uncomfortably Numb 10-3-2015

Yes, I wanted to make you cross-eyed. No, not really. The spiral itself is central to the idea/theme of the poem. Here is the actual poem:

Uncomfortably Numb

By Jesi Scott

 

Those eternal days of not being enough

not having it all together

lost hopeless

small cry-yourself-to-sleep days

when even your heart doesn’t show up but hides

in the endless pit of hell on earth-

What brimstone scorches worse than this black hole named despair?

Sucked dry and spit back out into chaos where

the best you can do is show up but

your best isn’t good enough

and so you spiral down and down and down…but still, you show up.

The poem itself can stand alone but is definitely more impactful when utilizing the shape (spiral). It gives the sense I wanted to convey of falling in and spinning out of control.

I wouldn’t have come up with either of these poems if I hadn’t shown up. You have to make the time to write. You have to give it your complete attention.

Showing up is half the battle.

Have a great week!

Jesi

 

 

Up to the Challenge?

Sometimes I need a nudge to get me writing.  Sometimes I need a push.  And sometimes I need a flat out dare.

There’s something about having a challenge laid out, a gauntlet thrown or any added incentive to force you out of a comfort zone.

I know I can’t be the only one.¬†The success of popular writing challenges, NaNoWriMo being one of the most popular, shows that we writers like to challenge ourselves sometimes to get the words on the page.

This week Jesi¬†and I are both doing the A to Z Blog¬†Challenge, which is for all types of bloggers, not just writers, but is a fun way to challenge yourself.¬† During the month of April, we participants will be posting every day except Sundays following the A to Z through the end of the month. Most people choose a theme for their posts and many writing blogs use the daily post for flash fiction, poetry or even serialized short story or other work.¬†On my blog,¬†every day will be a quote or a few lines from a famous novel, short story or poem which can serve as a writing prompt. Some days I will post something new based on that writing prompt, but am not promising that for every day.¬† That is¬†unless someone dares me and then, uh oh, well, who knows? ūüôā And this is probably where our resident instigator, I mean encourager (cough, cough) AJ, will cackle with joy and immediately issue a dare.

April is also National Poetry Writing Month so another popular writing challenge is NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) where participants are writing a poem a day for 30 days.¬† I did a similar challenge in October of last year (and may do again this year) called OctPoWriMo, where organizers posted a prompt and a suggested form to try for a daily post. I’m a newbie poet so it was a huge challenge for me, but it was a great way to push myself and stretch those old writing muscles.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November is hugely popular and for good reason.¬† The organizers offer a wealth of resources, lots of support and plenty of fellow challengers to help you along the way. I haven’t ever made the commitment to do NaNo since it requires a significant commitment and that time of year is crazy busy with my family, but I hope to give it a go at some point just to see if I can.

That’s one of the best things about the challenges, it’s a dare you make with yourself to see if you can do something new.¬†It’s saying I will commit to giving this a try.¬†It’s the start we sometimes need on a new writing path.

Sure, not everyone needs a challenge,¬†and some¬†just don’t like the organized ones.¬† Setting your own challenge or goal may work best for you.¬†I gave myself a daily writing challenge last year. I had to write something every day. Sometimes it was a character sketch or just brainstorming for a scene. ¬†Sometimes it was a poem. Sometimes though it was an entire scene or more. Having set the goal, the challenge, the dare for myself, I couldn’t let myself get by with just saying I wanted to write, I had to write.

So how about it? Are you up for a challenge? Look around, there are plenty! Or set one for yourself. It never hurts to have a little extra push (or a friendly kick in the pants) on occasion to get yourself moving forward.

Have you participated in a writing challenge you’d like to recommend? Tell me about it in the comments. Absolutely hate them and think they are a waste of time?¬† Feel free to share that as well. We always welcome your feedback.

Thanks & have a great week!

– CJS