Writing Beginnings: Nanowrimo, Day One, a Story about Sometimes

The energy of beginning things is so interesting and exciting.  I felt it this morning when I rose at 6 and sat in my writing chair, journal in hand.  Because I knew that all around the world, thousands, if not millions, of other writers were rising with the same intention in mind: to start a new writing project.

So I ended up writing about beginnings instead of working on my novel.  (But never fear, heeding my own oft-repeated advice, I did spend a few minutes free writing about the novel.  Remember, I'm actually cheating on Nanowrimo this year.)

Here's what I was thinking about:

Sometimes, in life, creativity, or writing, we don't even notice a beginning.  It is suddenly just there. When I look back on the genesis of my completed novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, for instance, I cannot point to a specific time when I thought, that's it, that's what I'm going to write about.  The idea just bloomed inside me.  And then it was if it had always been there.

An idea blossoms, and we decide whether to let it grow or not.  Sometimes, we let the idea go but it keeps coming back, so that we know its ours. 

And sometimes, it stays away.  Which means it is somebody else's to grow.

Sometimes, the beginning of a writing project is easy, and you keep it the exact way you wrote it the first time, because you can't make it better.  This happened with my finished novel.  But these sometimes are rare.

Sometimes, way more often, you wrestle with the beginning over and over again.

Prompts and writing exercises sometimes inspire entire novels. 

And sometimes they don't.

Sometimes we start with a bang, and keep right on going.  And sometimes we write in fits and starts.  And sometimes, always, every novel or book you write will proceed in a different way, even though you expect it to go just the way the last one did.

But always–never sometimes–beginnings are good.  Because without beginning, you'll never get to the end.

So happy Nanowrimo, day one!

How is your writing day going so far?  Are you on track with your first day's goal?  How do you feel about writing beginnings?

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8 Responses to Writing Beginnings: Nanowrimo, Day One, a Story about Sometimes

  1. J E Fritz 11/01/2011 at 18:27 #

    Happy NaNo Day one to you too.

    Really great post about sometimes :). It was actually a writing exercise that inspired my NaNo work this year. I’m really looking forward to the challenge, even though I haven’t quite met my goal for today.

  2. Jessica Baverstock 11/02/2011 at 02:54 #

    Well the word count is coming along nicely (I’m at over 5,600 on day two) but I am not at all impressed with the quality of the words.

    I was so excited about my story that I thought it was going to be one of those ‘sometimes’ when it spills onto the page easily…but my characters are all coy and flat.

    Still, it has definitely begun! And it feels so nice to finally let all the pent up words out on the page.

  3. Charlotte Dixon 11/02/2011 at 11:00 #

    J.E., Glad to hear that a writing exercise inspired your Nano project! And you’ll catch up on your goal, I’m certain of it.

    Jessica, Yay for all those words. Quantity, not quality is the key here. So no judging allowed. Process, not product. You can make them un-coy and un-flat on the next draft.

    Keep at it, you guys!

  4. Square-Peg Karen 11/03/2011 at 09:00 #

    Charlotte, it rings so true that sometimes “we don’t even notice a beginning.” – and yet – like you said, they are SO important!

    I’m not in NaNo (though I’ll admit to a leeetle envy every year when I see the camaraderie and enthusiasm it ignites), but wish you the best in it — and am giggling at your note that you plan to cheat.

    I’m really taking this beginnings thing to heart – will keep looking for them so I can honor them. Thanks for this!

  5. Anne Wayman 11/03/2011 at 09:07 #

    lol I’m cheating too… not writing a novel but a family memoir at the request of my kids… and I too had started in October and written about 1,000 words before I decided to use Nanowrimo to keep me at it… such are my beginnings on this project at least.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 11/03/2011 at 10:18 #

    Karen, Thanks for you good thoughts about NaNo! And it is interesting to actually be observant and try to catch beginnings. Let me know how it works for you!

    Anne, Glad I’m not the only Nano cheater! The family memoir sounds great, I’d love to hear more about it.

  7. Carole Jane Treggett 11/03/2011 at 11:21 #

    Sigh…I love that not only ‘sometimes’ but most of the time I get such great value from your posts, Charlotte. I’ve decided not to put the added pressure of NaNo’s requirements on my shoulders this year (Dad in hospital and we’re still uncertain of a diagnosis; brother with bipolar disorder who lives close by to me quite unstable these days – to name just a few added stressors). I AM writing every day though, and I feel the few writing projects I’ve started recently beginning to pick up some momentum. So colour me grateful and productive. Sometimes :)

  8. Charlotte Dixon 11/03/2011 at 11:52 #

    Thanks for the kudos, Carole Jane. And I’m sending prayers to you for your father and your brother. Wow, those are both huge stress points. Hang in there. And good for you for being able to get any writing done at all!

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