When I was younger I spent much of my time writing. I wrote for entertainment. I wrote for joy. I wrote for escape. I have oodles of stories downstairs in the basement; ragged spiral notebooks and pages of peach and turquoise loose leaf paper filled to varying capacities of completeness. I spent so much time in the make-believe worlds of my youth that the memories of some of the characters from my stories seem more real to me than do some of the friends I had at the time.
I was pretty good at it too, the whole "writing thing". The mechanics of writing always came easy to me. My grammar was never perfect (although it was better then than it is now) but the errors were minor. I was involved in any and every writing activity I could find in high school. I entered a lot of writing contests my Junior and Senior years and did very well. I may not have always come away with top honors but I always placed. I was proud of that.
I am not sure when I quit exactly. I remember trying to sit down and write a handful of times after Sam was born but it just didn't go anywhere. The notebooks and papers were gradually shuffled from the top of the desk, to a drawer, to a box. Each move saw them shift a little further from the forefront of my mind. I started doing a lot of technical-type writing at work and writing started to seem like a chore. I nearly forgot that I had once enjoyed it. It's only been these last couple of years that I've wanted to write again. I am rusty. My grammar leaves much to be desired and I am still searching for my voice, but I'm getting a little better about writing on a consistent basis. It is definitely something I would like to get back into.
In an effort to accomplish this, one of my 101 goals (see #99) is to enter and "win" the NaNoWriMo. It's a yearly challenge for writers to take the month of November and use it to just write. The goal is to finish a small novel, good or bad, of at least 175 pages (roughly 50,000 words) by midnight on November 30th. It is a daunting, yet attainable, goal. The "win" is simply the successful completion of your goal. That's it. The plot can stink to high heaven, the characters can be wooden and completely unbelievable...the point is just to finish the story.
Due to my official 101 start date I only get two shots at this thing before my 1001 days is over. So I've signed up and plan to start writing...have you noticed that November starts on Sunday? As in, this Sunday? I'm a little freaked out. I still don't know what my story is going to be about. I don't know if my main character (characters?) is going to be male or female or even human. To make my goal I need to write about 1667 words a day. I feel like I'm starting at a severe disadvantage if I can't get at least the skeletal outline of the story figured out before the official start date.
I used to write that way when I was younger; I would sit down at the table and scribble into my notebook for 10 pages at a time, never knowing from one paragraph to the next what was going to happen. I don't think I can do that now. I was very idealistic and fantasy-based (for lack of a better word) back then. I tend to be more realistic and process thoughts in a more linear fashion now. The idea of sitting down and writing something with no pre-thought put into it is nearly enough to give me hives. And yet I am running out of time! That may be just what I end up doing. Talk about leaving your comfort zone.
Have I mentioned that Jason leaves for a conference this month? I get to play single parent for a couple weeks. And, oh yeah! I'm starting back to school on the 9th. Methinks there are going to be some late nights in my near future. Is it times like these that make people start drinking coffee?
If you write, how do you do it? Are you a "by the seat of your pants" kind of writer? Do you plan? If writing is not your thing, what is something you did when you were younger that you still do or want to do now? Has your approach changed over time?