The “Writers Challenge”

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I remember the first time I heard about National Novel Writing Month – it was many moons ago, and I was a wee lass not really looking at the bigger picture.

At the time I was married, but childless – and let me tell you, when you’re childless it is much easier to find time to write. That said – with children or without – it is ALSO very easy to find a million excuses not to write.

But back then I participated in the now hugely famous “NaNo” (as I like to call it), but any more the idea of killing myself to write a first draft in one month sounds terrible. Plus, it’s a first draft.

Really can’t speak for you but I know I need a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth draft until my book is half way presentable. Once there was a time I wouldn’t admit that out loud – but these days I don’t care. Needing to write extra drafts doesn’t make me a crappy writer – writing multiple drafts makes me a better one.

While I no longer jump on the NaNoWriMo train – I am a fan of friendly competition (mostly with myself) to get the fire burning under my butt. That has led my friend and I to start our own 3 month challenge. (Which I’m sure will become an infinite challenge, because for me writing is as important as coffee.)

Does it have a fancy name? Nope.

Are we guaranteed an agent and a publication deal upon completion? HA! Nope…

But I love it, so I wanted to share it. Currently, seeing there are only two of us we email each other our word count at the end of the day. There is a minimum, because if there wasn’t it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, now would it? It is a whopping 750 words. To me, this is a very small number – to you, maybe not so much, but it’s a doable number for sure.

On top of that, at the end of the week we email our combined word count.

I know what you’re thinking, what about all the other aspects of writing? (e.g. plotting, research, editing <- because editing is a paramount part of writing, even if you hate doing it.) Well, all of that counts, too. Instead of a word count, we send amounts of time. “Today I edited for 3 hours.”

You get the picture.

This is me inviting you to join us! Tweet me @arynyoungless your daily word count, time editing, etc. Hashtag it #writingchallenge and join in our fun. Because while writing a story often sends you to a secluded writers island – you don’t  have to be alone. Help support each other, promote each other, and motivate each other – that is a goal of mine.

Hope to hear from you!

-Aryn

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The Truth about Happy

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Nearly five years ago I received my certification as a yoga instructor. If you are familiar with yoga – and I’m talking the institution, not the physicality of it – I’m sure the title of this post tripped an onslaught of quotes and ideas. If you’re unfamiliar – and only know the physical side of the practice, well, there’s a lot more to it.

But this post isn’t about yoga.

This post is about writing.

How? What does yoga and a man repairing a steam pump have to do with writing? (see above image) The answer is – everything.

The truth about being happy is a mixture of balance, hard work, self forgiveness, and persistence. Overall, being happy is actually rather hard. It goes against most things we’ve been taught our entire lives. The world says to act one way, and our instincts tell a whole different story – and this causes struggle.

Where is a great story born from? Struggle.

As a writer I look out into the world to see where a story may lie. I people watch at the beach, or at my son’s school for my next “real” character. I read everything and anything I can get my hands on from classics like Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” to Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s “All You Need is Kill” and than tons of news articles, wiki posts, and random blogs.

I write/edit/plot/conceive/sketch every day.

Every. Single. Day.

Good days. Bad days. All days. Write.

On the bad days – the days I can’t seem to find the “struggle” in my story, but am consumed by it with my writing, I feel like the man above.

This writing world I am part of is a cog in a steam pump, and my job is to maintain it – even when I feel it’s hopeless and will amount to nothing. This is my “writing” life. Filled with strife, struggle, oppression, tears, sweat, and sometimes blood – it’s still mine.

In yoga we are taught  the things we struggle with are what we need the work on the most. Maybe it’s understanding the sutras, or resting in some precarious arm balance – regardless the answers we’re looking for will always be on the other side of that struggle.

In writing our truth lies in the words we put on the page. Maybe today they’re not good. Maybe today they’re actually terrible. But until we accept this is our path – and that our path may not look like the paths of other writers we know, we will never find the answer. We will never know happy.

The truth about being happy  is that sometimes we won’t be.

And the truth about being a writer is that sometimes we need to not be happy so we can try to be great.

So be great. Get out of you own way. Embrace your struggles. And most of all don’t be afraid to grab a wrench and keep on moving.

Why I Write

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Ah, the life of an inspiring writer… You wake, you write, you eat, you write, you sleep, you write – sometimes you sleep write. This is not recommended… personally, I’m a terrible speller and it’s really hard to use the dictionary when I’m asleep.

I sit and think about what I’m writing, and what I should blog about. One day I will post an excerpt from my book – I’m only holding off because I need to revamp the opening, and I haven’t had a chance because I’m writing a serialized story that I hope to post on here starting late next month. <- I typed the end of that sentence with a high pitch valley girl voice over in my head.

Honestly, everything I write has a voice over in my head. I feel like Doogie Howser – music and all.

Voice over aside, I’m very excited to post actual work of mine online that is something other than poetry. This is my way of coping. Coping with what? The stress of writing, and writing, and writing, and feeling like you’re just chasing your own tail and no one even notices your even in the room.

Three years ago when I committed to this goal to become an honest to god Author with a real live agent and a publishing contract there was a group of other aspiring writers I hung with. These days the people from that group have gotten their deals and moved on, or stopped writing all together.

Anymore I feel like the Little Engine that Could, but have yet to realize I’m filling in for the Orient Express and have been snowed in for a while now.

Dismal.

Very cup empty and questioning why you have a cup at all.

But here I am, and here you are – reading this. That’s what hope looks like.

I’ve given up on things before. I was in a band (or 3) and I walked away. I used to manage retail stores, but it wasn’t for me so I moved on. Even people – as crass as that sounds, but I feel everything has a life-cycle. Butterflies, creative outlets, even friendships – but I can’t let this one go. I’ve tried. I announced it to an entire diner one night, “I WILL WRITE NO MORE! DAMN THE WRITING!” Blah… I can’t.

So until I reach my dream – because I will (mark my words) – I will be on here, hopefully, entertaining you! Keep an eye out for my story! I’d tell you about it, but I really want it to be a surprise. The most I’ll say is that its Science Fiction. (~giddy dance~)

Remember all you aspiring writers – you’re not alone. Don’t give up simply because it’s hard. If it were easy you’d probably get lazy and then write crap – and the last thing we need is more crap. 🙂