Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Murakami: Writing a Novel Is Like Survival Training

Moshin HamidHaruki Murakami isn’t everyone’s fitness guru, but Moshin Hamid, the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and more recently How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (great title btw) advocates Murakami as the man who inspired him to exercise first, write second.

In an interview with The Paris Review, Murakami said:

“writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

The Atlantic Article where this was highlighted to me informs that “Murakami… transformed himself from nicotine-stained wastrel to marathoning meganovelist, [and] urges writers to prepare for novels like contestants gearing up for the Hunger Games.” Moshin has said that it was following Murakami’s advocation that gave him the drive and energy to move forward with his writing.

This really struck a cord with me, as I find that exercise really does help my mind to work better, so Mr Murakami really does have a point. I have linked the two activities together, but perhaps I should dualise my exercise and writing routines. This reminds me that I really need to get on the case with exercising my body as well as my mind. I only have two weeks left to train for the Where’s Wally 10km fun run, and I am way behind.

Write for 15 Minutes a Day

StopwatchNo pressure.

15 minutes is entirely do-able. Sit down, set a timer, ready, steady….. WRITE! Don’t stop to think and worry, just go – edit later – this way there will be something to edit.

I think that this is a really good exercise to do when you’re feeling like there is no time for writing in your life. I tried it out this morning. I woke up, made a pot of tea, sat down and just wrote. The short time frame I allowed myself was quite freeing, and it’s amazing how much I got done.

Currently, I am still world building for Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Today, I was plotting the relationships between the many city states in my fairy tale fantasy world. It has made me reconsider the longstanding name of my main city – Farway. I really do like the name Farway, but there has been mention that it sounds a little close to Far Far Away from Shrek. Another name has cropped up on me this morning – Yore, to be referred to as ‘the city of Yore’, etc. Any thoughts?

The Anti-Climax of Publication

Head in HandsSelf-published novelist Arthur McMahon has given his very frank breakdown of how publishing his book didn’t rock his world. I was directed to discourse by GalleyCat who lead on his piece with their very apt title: “Publishing a Book will not Change Your Life“, 

*click*

It’s a little depressing to see another writer’s take on it. Yet, looking at it logically, it must be true. Especially in the realm of self-publishing – where the only thing standing between being an unpublished novel and a published novel is a click of a button. *click* That’s it. No phone call from your agent, no exultant feeling of your manuscript finally being accepted by an old-school publisher, and the kudos and validation that I imagine one would have from your book being accepted by a gate keeper of the literary world. Not that the latter will ultimately change your life any more, but I imagine that the elation would at least be longer lived. Perhaps.

failed expectations

I suppose it’s much like New Years Eve parties, or an over-hyped movie, or first-time sex. There are so many expectations caught up in it, that it can’t help but disappoint. Perhaps we can only hope to be mentally braced for that scenario when it finally comes. That publishing your book won’t solve your woes, it will just be a very awesome milestone that you can place in your trek through life. Expecting more from it may just be setting yourself up for a fall, for which Arthur McMahon has put himself forward as a case study. I do really respect and admire his candour on his experience, his closing words on the subject as follows:

I wonder if this is why so many authors are depressed drunks. Completing a novel didn’t change my perception of life like I expected it to. It filled no gaps in my soul or heart, and may have in fact widened them.

Still, onward I go.

Realism in Writing Goals

Reality Check aheadOK, I have an admission. Although I did enroll in Coursera’s Science Fiction and Fantasy course with the University of Michigan. I’m realising that it’s one commitment too far, there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to do this, my blog, my novel and all the other extra-cirricular activities that I am involved in. It’s one thing too many, lest all the balls that I am juggling come tumbling down.

The reading list is great (and I think it I will follow it), the course materials are great, but enrolling late and trying to launch myself into it was a little optimistic. I think that I will definitely enroll into another course where I have prepared myself  timetable-wise. In fact, Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative, a Coursera course with Vanderbilt University which starts in the summer looks particularly entertaining (one of the classes is held in the LOTR MMORPG), but I digress…

Progress with writing 4&20

As far as crafting long-form fiction goes, I am a slow writer. I spend hours agonising over every word and phrase. Constantly fact-checking and looking for better suited synonyms to make my writing just so. Although I would say that overall my standard of writing is fairly good, there isn’t very much of it and to put it frankly, a snail would easily outpace me.

Blog-assisted inspiration

I’ve been blogging for just under 2 weeks, and I really feel that it is helping me. Helping to give me focus in my writing. I have been in a writing slump for nearly half a year: I set aside my novel 4&20 and my fairy tale fantasy world, and they’ve been gathering dust in a shadowy corner. Although I have not yet added anything to my word count for Four and Twenty Blackbirds, it has been foremost in my thoughts this past fortnight. I have been world building and developing my characters, something that I have not done in an age. I’ve also signed up for a drop-in writing class this Thursday with the very awesome Anne Aylor, which I really think will help get my proverbial ink flowing.

100-Word story: jeffrey archer short story challenge

On other fronts, I have finished my 100-word story for the Jeffrey Archer Short Story Challenge, entitled FreeCycle. I will be going over it with my writing group WLWG on Wednesday, and will post it here after submitting it to the competition.

Happy writing, one and all.

Writing Group Inspiration

It was a small crowd at the writing group this week, fearful weather and January blues permitting, As ever, although it was only a couple of readers, it was really inspiring. I found Jennifer’s words of encouragement really helpful, along with her suggestion of going back to pay a visit to Anne Aylor to get a kick start back to writing after my long lull in the doldrums of writer’s impasse. I’ve been finding it so hard to write for such a very long time that I’m not sure where to start.

But I’ve now done 2 things: (i) I’ve re-started blogging with a new revamped and rejuvenated site, and (ii) I’ve been in touch with Anne and will be attending two upcoming drop in sessions in her So You Want to Write a Novel? course – the first on “plotting and shaping”, how apt, and the second on “editing”.

Thoroughly enjoying throwing myself back into writing.