THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron is a 12-step program for creativity. I am in the middle of this 12-week on-line course. I’ve kept up with reading the book chapters and the Morning Pages. (I haven’t missed a morning in 6 weeks.) The Artist’s Dates have been sketchy some weeks — sometimes literally, as I spend an hour or more sketching on a sketch pad. But mostly, the course has me thinking. All of that is good, but what I have found is that I have not been doing my own story-writing very much during this course. I complete my Morning Pages, and then must somehow feel that my daily writing duty is done, so get on with the other things to do which crowd my life. So my second half of this course must be story-writing discipline.
The good news is that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. By participating the past two years, I discovered something very interesting which I have heard a gazillion times before: it’s okay to write junk. NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writing Month and by the last day of November participants are supposed to have completed 50,000 words of a book. However, they also encourage you to simply write, like by throwing a oragatang into the story one day. I “won” the past two years — i.e., reached my 50,000-word goals — but also knew most of what I was writing WAS junk, even if it was story-related.
Some of my junk included something like Morning Pages to unclutter my mind before I got story-writing motivated. It also included autobiographies on the main characters — which turned out to be GREAT for finding their voices. And I wrote a whole lot of backstory or thinking-thoughts dealing with the characters and plot. None of these got into the actual story. In fact, two years ago, when I went back to revise, I took those 50,000+ words and cut away all the junk down to a 3,000-word skeleton. That skeleton was then built up to 27,000 words over the next couple of months and for the past 13 months, has been in the hands of an editor who is excited about it (but not enough to offer me a contract… yet; please keep your fingers crossed.)
So on through the last week of October, and onward to NaNoWriMo. Wishing you all disciplined writing time.