Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Baby steps

I'll bet most writers are aware that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where authors produce a 50,000 word novel (not polished) in thirty days and submit it to NaNoWriMo.com.  That's a minimum of 1,667 words per day. That is not for me. But I admire those who can do it.

Many folks do not know that November is also National Life Writing Month. That is right up my alley! I can write a 1-2,000 word personal essay in one sitting. But if I had to do that everyday, I'd burn out.

Life writing takes many forms. Think of journal entries, pictorial displays at funerals, or Grandma's hand stitched quilt with squares from family clothes. If you find it difficult to get started, dig out old letters or greeting cards and read the handwritten messages from your loved ones. These are treasures. Look in the back of  your closet at an item of clothing. Trigger a memory by handling treasures in a trinket box, or dig through the junk drawer and dicover a key to...where?

Begin writing and don't stop to edit, just pour your heart onto the page until your words overflow. Sometimes they get messy and leave a flood of debris. Our lives are rife with debris and it is YOUR debris, your story. No one else owns YOUR memories. Begin your memoir by writing a memory. Before you know it, you may have a collection of rememberances that will lead to a story worthy of publication.

These leather baby shoes are over 100 years old. They are very fragile. Don't you love those tassles? There is a life story attached to those shoes, but I do not know the story. I bought them for a dollar at a yard sale, but the seller did not know the story. I keep them close by to remind me that someone a century ago, took baby steps, put one foot in front of the other and headed toward a goal. He or she fell frequently and then got back up and tried again. That's all any of us can do whether we are writing or just struggling to  get through one more day. You will  hear, "No". You will get bruised egos, and some days you will take  two steps forward and three back.

Begin with baby steps...a begining to an unknown destination where you'll make discoveries along the way. You have buried treasures in your past. Unearth them. If you are burdened by something, don't give up. Put one foot in front of the other and take baby steps.

Not 50,000 words, perhaps 150 to begin. Do it...your way, but DO IT.

13 comments:

Sioux said...

Linda--I am definitely doing it my way. I feel confident I will not get 50,000 words by the end of the month, but if I get to the end of my manuscript, and get some fleshing out/revising done in this month, I will be thrilled.

I DO love the shoes. If those shoes could talk...

Bookie said...

Lovely post. I love using family prompts...do so often...fiction is enhanced by a kernel of truth...then I lie, lie, lie!

Susan said...

Hi Linda....Love the baby shoes. Love writing. Always have, always will. Susan

Shelly said...

What a wonder those baby shoes are. I love life stories- my very favorite kind to write and read.

K9friend said...

Great advice, Linda!

Pat
Critter Alley

Lynn said...

Those shoes are adorable, and you did such a wonderful job at SLWG workshop. I'm one of those crazy NaNoers... bah.

Val said...

I'm glad you didn't hang those classic baby shoes from your rearview mirror.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Thanks fro the encouragement, Linda:-)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Nice idea to trigger life writing with physical objects. I don't have 100 year old baby shoes, but I do have a 100 year old piano. Guess that's a start. :)

River said...

I love the baby shoes.
My life story? There's a challenge. I have four siblings and we didn't all grow up together, I don't even know two of them, so memories I have can't include them....I'll have to pass on that idea for now.

Daisy said...

Wonderful post. Love the baby shoes and what they represent. Baby steps is the way to get there. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

I do love those baby shoes (and the tassels)--and I think your technique works pretty well, too. ;-)

Theresa Sanders said...

I love this post, Linda. The baby shoes are a unique motivator -- love them! And I do think you've hit upon an important key. The best way to be productive as a writer is to do what works best for each of us as individuals, whether that's NaNo or some other technique. The only hard and fast rule is to write! Thanks for sharing.