Tag Archives: Creative

The 6AM Writing Challenge

1 Nov

Today, I wake up earlier than the neighbours, earlier than the sun and even earlier than the birds. It’s dark outside and cold inside, but I’m smiling. This is the first day of my 6AM Writing Challenge and so far I am doing well.

November is known by aspiring writers as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which writers can take part in a challenge to write a novel (50, 000 words) in one month. I had thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo, but decided against it. My main reasons for taking part would have been to develop a daily writing practice and to prove to myself that I can write a whole novel in a month if I put my mind to it. However, I already developed a daily writing practice with the help of the 120 day “Do What You Love” Challenge, and my main ideas for a novel require a lot of research and planning: it would be a waste of time to start without the necessary information, and a shame to rush through something that requires more attention.

Although I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I still felt that I needed a writing challenge for November, and what I needed the most was time to write. Up until now, I would write for fifteen minutes right at the end of the day, and would not set aside quality time for writing, even though my schedule allows for a couple of hours of ‘free time’.  I therefore decided to make use of these hours for writing, but the only way of fitting in these hours into the day was by…waking up earlier.

So here I am, scribbling away as the neighbourhood and nature sleep. For the whole month of November I will be waking up at 6AM to do one hour of writing before starting the day. The 6AM Writing Challenge won’t be easy (I love sleeping!), but it is the only way for me to fit writing into my day.

Whichever creative challenge you are participating in this month – be it NaNoWriMo or your own personal challenge – I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to finding out how you are getting on!

 

What I Dreamed About in the Quiet Room in the Attic

28 Jul

I have come to the quiet room in the attic to write. It smells of books and old wallpaper, and I feel as if I am in my own private library. The desk is directly underneath the window and I gaze sleepily at the shimmering leaves of the giant trees in front of the house. There is a strong wind today and, despite being discontented about yet another grey day, I am soothed by the soft whisperings of the birches.

Apart from a desk and a bookshelf, the room has nothing to distract attention. No-one passes through here and it will be a while until the others realise where I am. I have all the time in the world. I prop my head up with my hands and dream out of the window.

The pine tree is covered in tiny drops of rain, which it has not managed to shake off with the wind. The small birch is waving frantically at its elder, who is so tall and elegant, that only her head and shoulders show sign of movement. The fir tree, with its three-meter branches, is still; its peaceful breathing suggests that it is at rest.

I observe these friends; we have known each other since childhood and I have got so used to seeing them that I no longer pay much attention to them.

I get up from the desk and walk over to the bookshelf, on which a random collection of books has been growing for the past fifty years. History, art, fiction, crime, biography, and even a stamp collection, can be found here, all with yellowing pages and fading covers. One book catches my attention and I take it off the shelf: Matilda Kshesinskaya – Memoirs. I was thinking about her only last week, funny how I should discover her autobiography in the quiet room of my family home.

I look at photos of Matilda in her various dance roles, and my thoughts wander over ballerinas and their hard work and discipline. Over their perseverance, their talent and their elegance. Over their strength of character, their mysteriousness and their beauty. They possess a wealth of exemplary qualities and, as I flick through the pages and bring my nose closer to the paper to inhale the smell of this old book, I remember a quote that I once read and have never forgotten:

“God gives talent. Work transforms talent into genius.”
~ Anna Pavolva

One day, perhaps, I will have the wisdom of a ballerina…

Live Laugh Love

4 May

It’s been two months since my last post!

I took a brief break from creative activity, hoping that some time without writing could help me understand the next steps to take in my writing path. However, all but one question were left unanswered; the only thing that I realised in these past two months is that I can’t live without writing – it is as much a part of my life as breathing. Even if I’m not writing, I’m constantly thinking about writing. Everything I experience in the world around me goes into an idea bank, from which I withdraw a precious currency called Words – it is Words that make my world go round.

I am happy and excited to be blogging once more – I have missed sharing with you, fellow bloggers, and can’t wait to catch up with your posts.

Hope the sun shines on you this week-end!

paper weight

 

 

Rumour in the Treetops

16 Feb

The Sun was knocking on my window.

“Come and join us!” she beckoned. “Rumour has it, someone important is on her way!”

Enticed by the Sun’s soft voice, I opened my balcony doors and stepped outside.

I soon saw that the Sun was right: the whole of nature seemed to be preparing for some grand event. The birds had a surplus of energy and were chasing each other at roller-coaster speed through the sky. The trees were standing taller than usual and were turning towards each other for advice on the most attractive position to hold their branches. The grass was showing off its new highlights, and the clouds were parading all of their shapes and forms across a light blue sky.

The Sun, with its long elegant rays, was nudging awake the sleeping flowers, who were reluctant to throw off the warm layer of dry leaves that had kept them warm during the winter. A zephyr came shyly towards me and kissed my cheek so softly that I barely noticed. Before I could give him an embarrassed smile back, he had already slid away silently.

The air was gathering perfumes from all corners of the Earth, and my eyelids were drooping slowing from this overdose of odours.

And in my dazed state, I believe to have heard a Whisper make its way through the treetops.

She spoke very quietly, but I caught the most important part of her message: “Spring is on her way!”

My Guilty Passion

5 Jul

As I sit down to write this post, I feel guilty. I feel guilty about writing.

I realised that I felt guilty about writing almost a year ago, when choosing a career path for the first time and thinking about what it was that prevented me from giving myself to the activity that I love most of all.

From a young age, I had been taught many things about life and work from the adults around me. These things include:

1) All normal people have a 9-5 job.

2) Working longer hours than everyone else actually signifies that you are talented and/or important.

3) No one ever really enjoys their job.

4) A job is a way to earn money. Having fun while we’re at it? That’s just a child’s naivety.

5) We have to pick our career path at college, study hard for it at university and become a specialist in our field by our 30s.

6) Career changes are for undecided, unmotivated people.

7) Being ‘unsure’ is almost equivalent to being a failure.

8 ) Productivity is respectful, creativity is laziness.

9) A respectful person is one who works hard, sacrifices himself at work for his family and never ever complains about his job.

10) It is selfish to choose a career that brings little money simply because one ‘enjoys’ it. Instead, one should choose a career that guarantees security and stability in order to be able to support family and be ready for any unforeseen events/circumstances.

11) Only those who have ‘achieved’ something are those who are worthy.

As you can see, writing doesn’t really come anywhere into this. As a teenager I would only write in my ‘free’ time: after I’d finished my homework, during the summer holidays or late into the night. At all other times, there were more ‘important’ things to do: revise for exams, practise my musical instruments, help with the housework, babysit…I felt guilty about spending so much time in my day doing an activity with no ‘purpose’ or no visible results. I had been taught to always do useful things first and use any remaining time for rest or play. (But if we only ever do what is useful, will we ever have any time to do what is fun?)

Despite having pinpointed the thing that prevented me from dedicating myself to writing, I continue to have feelings of guilt. Few of my friends are in the creative field; when I say “I spent a whole afternoon writing”, only one or two will sympathise in replying “Ah, I know how you feel. I spent the day painting a beautiful park”. Since moving to my new country, with a calmer, slower lifestyle, I feel almost embarrassed to tell my friends that ‘what I do all day’ is work, go for walks, ride my bike and write. This answer never seems to be satisfactory and I only receive a nod, or an “OK..”, or further questions starting with “But do you not go/do/see….”.

In their late-thirties, both my mum and her best friend had drastic career changes. They took evening classes, sat exams and started from scratch. After their final exam, my mum’s friend said something that has stuck with me since, and that has perhaps been a reason for most of the writing activities I have done in the past few years. She said “Do what you love now. There’s no point in wasting time and settling for something else. In the end, you’ll end up going back to the thing you love, anyway.”

Torn between doing what I truly love and doing something ‘respectful’ I ask myself: did Dostoevsky, Hugo or Shakespeare ever feel guilty about writing? If so, they were damn right to laugh, spit and stomp on guilt’s face!