Saying Goodbye To the Non-Writing Writer

This is the saddest recent picture of myself I could find to say goodbye...

This is the saddest recent picture of myself I could find to say goodbye.

Yep, you heard me right. It is time that I say goodbye to this blog, to the inaction that spurred its creation, and to the guilt I feel from neglecting it for so long as my writing life has begun to take on a burgeoning life of its own.

But, the good news is this: that guilt that I felt is a good guilt, and this is most certainly a happy goodbye.

You see, I started this blog because I wanted to start writing. I was eager and willing to write anything, and I was tired of years of wanting to write but struggling with what to write, when to write it and where the hell I should start.

However, starting this blog and committing (at the beginning) to write a certain number of words a week got me in the habit of writing. I soon got the confidence to start the novel I’d been planning for years, and then I started entering writing contests, and then I started focusing in on what types of writing I wanted to do…and before long, I stopped writing posts on the NWW as often.

And now, this blog just sits, lingering in the back of my mind, quietly nagging me to pay it a little attention, to show it a little love, but I can’t find time to give it because I’m spending all of it thinking about and working on other writing projects. And when I do sit down to write a post, I have a hard time finding something relevant to say about the struggle to write because, well, I’m no longer struggling to do so. What the hell content am I supposed to write then?

So, this blog has served its purpose. I am no longer the non-writing writer! I work on my novel regularly, I enter writing contests (the NYC Midnight Competition starts tonight – I get my prompt at 9pm!) and I have started brainstorming and planning online content that is more focused and better fits my interests and goals in life. Which brings me too…

My new blog! I’m happy to announce the launch of my new blog, An Adventure A Week.

LOGOFINALHEADER2An Adventure A Week is a travel and lifestyle blog that is about seeking out adventure in everyday life. I am challenging myself, once a week, to seek out something I’ve never experienced, either here in LA or in places I travel to for work or pleasure, and throw myself into them full force – with an open mind and an eager heart. For me, this blog is more focused, has the potential to attract more readers, and most importantly, will add a lot of fun to my own experience of this world! I have already started planning my first few months of adventures, and they range from the active, the culinary, the cultural, and even the dangerous, and I cannont wait to see where this new challenge takes me.

I am forever grateful for my very first blogging experience here at the Non-Writing Writer. I learned a lot about blogging, about the self-discipline it takes to become a writer, and about what kind of writer I want to become.

Thank you all and cheers to adventure!

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A New Year, A New Start

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For me, the beginning of a new year carries with it feelings of excitement, hope, and a strong personal drive for self-improvement. It doesn’t feel like any other time of year, except maybe the way the start of a new school year felt to me when I was growing up, and every January 1st, I always can’t help but experience a rejuvenating rush of energy and determination to make this year the best of my life.

Two weeks into 2013 and I am already on a flight home from my first business trip of the year. I’d planned on writing a post similar to this on January 1st, but after making some initial new years resolutions, I decided to give it a couple of weeks and really think about plausible goals I could set for myself to achieve this year, not just in terms of my writing, but in terms of the quality of my life in general and how I impact those around me.

First of all, I looked back at 2012 and the anti-resolutions I made last year. Did I manage to go with the flow and keep a positive outlook? I feel like I really did, to be honest. I  managed to start some great habits that I’ve mostly kept up with all year, the most important one being regular exercise and eating healthy. I wrote and worked on my novel, though admittedly not nearly as much as I’d liked, and I entered a writing contest that I did well in and learned a lot from. I feel like the relationships in my life got stronger, including the most important one – the one I have with myself. All in all, it was a pretty great year for me, and I’m so thankful for the family I have and the incredible opportunities I have in my life to excel and enjoy.

However, there were mistakes this last year, and those few that really stick out in my mind tend to haunt me and come back to me in times of self-doubt. As I’ve written about before on this blog, I definitely am very, VERY hard on myself, and dwelling on my mistakes, especially if they are times that I hurt people I care about, is probably the worst habit that I have. So, I’ve decided to tackle that bad habit this year – I’m going to work on giving myself a break. This applies to all areas of my life, including in the subject of this blog – working on becoming a better (and more disciplined) writer.

Speaking of writing, I’ve set a few tangible goals for myself in that arena as well, which I’m sure I’ll be writing on this blog about in the coming months. I’ve narrowed it down to three goals:

1) Aim for 3-5 posts on this blog a month. I am trying to be realistic (and give myself a break!) by keeping in mind my intense work schedule and focusing on writing when I can and when I have something meaningful to say.

2) Work on my novel with enthusiasm and energy. I have started trying to regain the initial fire I had to work on my novel when I first had the idea and was in the planning process. I felt like I lost enthusiasm as the year went on, and now I’ve started getting myself hyped up again when I sit down to work on it. And I want to keep it up, dammit!

3) Enter 3 writing contests. I enjoy the feedback that I get from these and the spark they give me to keep writing. Also, who doesn’t love the satisfaction you feel when you get a positive response to your work?

Cheers to 2013, and to all my writer friends – I hope this year you write the best thing you’ve ever written!

I am always interested in hearing about other people’s new years resolutions, so please feel free to leave a comment telling me about yours! Also, here are some posts from some of my favorite bloggers about new years resolutions that I read as I started to formulate my own:

 

More Writing Contests…..and a fancy new iPad!

I’m sitting here at my desk with the candles lit, a new Word document opened up ready to be filled with story-telling brilliance and my fancy new iPad playing some motivating movie scores on my Pandora app.

I’m inspired tonight to start a new short story. You see, this last week I had not one but TWO new short story ideas pop into my head, and I immediately searched for some new writing contests that would motivate me (meaning would give me a concrete deadline) to actually sit down and write them. Since my awesome experience with NYC Midnight Short Story Competition this year – round 2 results should be in next week, by the way – I’ve decided that whenever I have a good idea for a story, I should immediately look for a reason to see it through to completion, in the form of an upcoming short story contest. Because, for some odd reason, having just the base desire to write the story is not enough to actually get me to do it. I need a deadline.

My search yielded several results (thank you, writersmarket.com!) and I narrowed down the options to three contests, all of which have deadlines around the end of April/beginning of May:

1. The 34th Nimrod Literary Awards – a 7,500 word limit on a fiction piece, due on April 30th.

2. The Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition – A big flipping deal, with several categories for submission and a deadline of May 1st.

3. The Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Competition – Run by the Hemmingway’s grand-daughter, this needs submissions by May 1st as well. 3,500 word limit.

My initial plan was to write one story, one GOOD story, and submit it to all three competitions. They all accept simultaneous submissions as far as I can tell, and they all have pretty similar guidelines. But, since I’m new to the writing contest world, I wonder if that is a normal thing to do.

Since I have two story ideas, so I may go ahead and try to write both in the next month, despite the heavy work schedule I have lined up. I will be traveling a lot, and I tend to get a lot of writing done when I’m spending a lot of time on planes and trains and in pretty hotel rooms. It may be rough and I may be setting too high a goal to attain, but that might be something good. I certainly feel inspired and motivated these days, why not try to capitalize on it?

Has anyone out there ever entered any of these contests or have any comments on them?

And by the way, about the new iPad – I actually won it in a drawing on SaveUp.com – no joke. Pretty awesome, yeah? I’ve decided to allow it to be the only gadget that I leave out of my work realm entirely. I want it to be my writing companion, keeping my notes and inspiring me with its awesome brainstorming apps and music features. I just need to come up with a name for it…..I’m thinking something like Albus?

Yeah, Albus. That’s perfect. 

I’m off to read a book with Albus and then maybe play a word game with him before bed. Goodnight!

Visiting Art Museums (and how they can inspire writers)

This last weekend, my dad and my step-mom came to visit me in LA for the first time since I’ve made it my permanent (ish) home, and I was tasked with showing them around for a couple of days. Because they are both well-traveled and enjoy art, I decided a trip to the J. Paul Getty Center Museum would be a perfect way to fill a pretty Saturday afternoon in LA.

The Getty is one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles. For those of you that haven’t had a chance to visit it yet, it is perched high above West LA on a hill, right off of the 405 Freeway, and it houses a fabulous, first rate art collection ranging from antiquity to a few early 20th century pieces, all of which are displayed in a beautiful modern white marble collection of buildings. The views alone are worth a trip.

I’ve always loved visiting the Getty, especially when I was in college. Even before I switched my major from Creative Writing to Art History, I would make the drive from Malibu to the museum at least once a month to bask in the treasures that it holds and to revel in the views of the LA basin, which stretch from downtown all the way to the ocean on a clear day. And the best part was and still is that admission is to the center’s permanent collection is FREE.

This trip, the museum again didn’t disappoint. It has been years it seems since I last visited the Getty, and I always forget how amazing the art and experience of it is when I spend time away. We wandered around the galleries and had ourselves a grand time, and it occurred to me how inspired I was feeling to go home and write.

I tried to think of what it was about visiting art museums that I’ve always loved. I’ve decided that reveling in the incredible works of art that men and women have created over centuries past has the power to spark the desire in us, as writers and as creators in general, to work tirelessly towards our own creations and contributions to the world. Seeing the great work that others have accomplished reminds me of the vast creative ability of man, something that is easy to forget in our world that is being devastated by those seeking to destruct and harm.

It made me want to go home and start writing immediately and see my own creative vision be manifested on the page!

I think I’m going to make it a habit to visit art museums more often – I’m a big fan of LACMA and the Norton-Simon Museum in Pasadena, and it is definitely time I paid both of those spots a visit.

 

Writing Down Your Stories

I just finish blowing through two short memoirs written by Roald Dahl called Boy and Going Solo, both of which are compilations of stories from his childhood and early adult life. In Boy, most of the stories revolve around his adventures while attending an English boarding school, and you can see the early experiences with a candy shop and with horrible headmasters that influenced his highly imaginative children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda. Going Solo picks up where Boy left off with Roald going to work for the Shell Company in East Africa and then joining the RAF during World War II and his experiences flying fighter planes.

What I loved most about these books is they weren’t like an autobiography or a memoir in the traditional sense. They were just stories of interesting things that happened to him in his life along with some funny anecdotes  and remarks about how these experiences shaped his later adult life. He even writes at the beginning of each book about how autobiographies are boring, but stories aren’t, and that is why he decided to publish only the pieces of his memories that were the most engaging.

And they were engaging – they very much transported me to another time. I felt what it was like to be a boy waiting for a beating in the headmasters office for an offense that I didn’t commit, what it was like to live in colonial Dar es Salaam in the ‘30s, and the gut-wrenching fear that comes with fighting in a war against impossible odds, waking up each morning doubting whether you’ll live to see another day after this one.

Roald Dahl was a highly interesting person, but more importantly he was a very engaging writer and a phenomenal story-teller. What would have been an account of episodes from a semi-average man’s life from that time period was skillfully told in a wonderfully entertaining way under his expert hand.

Reading all his funny and interesting stories made me think about how little I record the memorable things that have happened to me. I feel like I’ve lived a very unconventional life thus far (entirely by choice, of course) and I wish I had written down all of the crazy things that I’ve done and seen, particularly while living abroad in college and from navigating the world of reality television over the last 4 years. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t’ think I’m super interesting or some kind of wonder in terms of what I have done, but I do think I have some funny anecdotes that someday my children and grandchildren and so on would like to hear about.

It isn’t journaling, it is more like telling stories from your life and crafting them as you would a story of fiction. It is definitely something I want to try.

So, I’ve bought a new journal – just what I need, right? Another journal yelling at me for a contribution from my bedside table! – and I’m going to use it just to write down funny memories and bizarre things that have happened to me in my life thus far. My plan is just to try to write 1 or 2 stories down a month, when I have a moment, so that someday they can be read and enjoyed by my kids, and their kids, and their kids. Even if they aren’t seen by anyone ever, it will give me a nice feeling of happiness recalling and reliving them, not to mention great writing practice.

I love getting lost in stories written by others from another time. Who is to say someone down the line wouldn’t want to read mine? Or yours?

NYC Midnight Contest, Round 2: Done and Done

Well, I can cross a few things off my personal to-do list:

1. Finish a short story in record time while juggling it with a strenuous shoot schedule.

2. Actually leave a casino with more money than I went in with.

3. Write a blog post while drunk.

As I’m sure you noticed in my last post, the night following 4 shoot days (14 hours of work each), I went out to a casino with some co-workers and drank a bit too much. Usually, when I hit a casino, I leave after a couple of hours because I’ve lost money. Well, the reason I stayed sitting at the same blackjack table for 6 hours was because I WON. Like, a lot. So I stayed, and kept drinking. I can’t say I regret it (my wallet certainly doesn’t) but I do wish I had gotten a better night’s sleep so that I could be focused and ready to finish my story yesterday before my flight back to LA.

But, yesterday I managed to wake up, a little later than anticipated but still with enough time to work on my my story. I had a really crappy rough draft that I had thrown together the nights before, and I had some time to shorten it (it was WAY long) and refine it (it was WAY rough).

I do wish the second round had fallen at a better time for me, but you know what? Opportunities come up in life, and they usually don’t take your own schedule into account. You have to just take them as they come and give it your best shot. I submitted a story that I don’t feel entirely confident about, but I did the best with the time I was given, give or take a few drinks at the casino. And while I was maybe less focused yesterday than I could have been if I’d not stayed up all night gambling, I do feel quite excited about the new shoes I ordered with my winnings.

Cheers to that.