This post was inspired by the Wednesday Words of Wisdom segment on Creative Writing For Me. Unless I already have an idea burning in my brain, which I don’t particularly at the moment, I’m just going to pick two quotes at random and use them as dual prompts.
“The assaying of tea is an art and not a science. It is the man, and not his instruments, which is the most important.” ~Timothy Mo
“I’ve come to realize by winning NaNoWriMo this year that it’s not only about writing a great novel but also about enduring throughout the writing process. It’s about picking up your tools and starting again when you finish one project and begin another one. It’s realizing that your journey will contain moments of self-doubt, bouts of jealousy toward other writers and painful or surprising revelations about yourself and other people.” ~Creative Writing For Me
I chose these quotes because I like tea and I like NaNoWriMo.
Most of my college experience was spent in apartment-style housing, where I was a champion of boiling kettles dry. By the end of my senior year I was using a tiny saucepan that took the abuse with more grace than the kettles had, and that worked well enough. When I wasn’t leaving cookware to roast on the gas burner, I would get distracted by homework and projects and forget about the mug of tea slowly over-steeping in the kitchen. Eventually I got to the point where I preferred it that way, or at least convinced myself I did, and added milk and honey with abandon.
Since then a number of things have changed:
- More mindfulness when it comes to the flavor and texture. My preferred sweetener is honey (orange blossom, wildflower, or blackberry) instead of sweeteners of convenience, like the sugar or Splenda packets at the dining hall.
- More investment in the kettle I have now. It’s plain but cute, and I like it. The last time I boiled anything dry was in 2010!
- Paying more attention to time. Now when I put the tea in to steep I set a timer for a few minutes, so when I add milk to my cup it’s as much to help cool it as enjoying the flavor of it in there.
Those changes all come from inside me, not any of the tools used to boil, steep, and stir. I’m more invested in the experience and that’s made a world of difference.
I can see similar things happening with my writing. In college, I concentrated in creative writing and had at least one workshopping class every semester. Even outside of those classes, there were always essays and papers to compose. But life after graduation, in the absence of grad school or a set career track, is… simultaneously kind of a vacuum and a traffic jam. I’ve spent my time working, reading, fanfictioning, and things like that, but not a lot of time on my own original stories.
Deciding to write a novel in thirty days this past November meant having to pick up tools that I hadn’t used for anything purely my own in a long time. Developing characters that had been lurking in the back of my head or developing on the fringes of my fanfic writing for a while — they just needed a little more fleshing out and their own story to live in. World-building, which I’ve always been intimidated by but capable of with effort and concentration. Outlining, which has never been a habit of mine for creative writing but always served me well with research papers. I didn’t start building an outline in time to finish before November, but I’m making good progress on an outline for the second draft.
I paid an intense amount of attention to my writing in November compared to what I’d gotten used to. It’s not something I could do all the time but it was a great kickstart. It helped that I loaded my iPod with audiobooks in the same fantasy, magical genre for inspiration, and that I had the opportunity to think out loud with someone. My partner, who majored in archaeology and anthropology, has been really great about helping me bounce ideas around and encouraging me to think things through completely.
Not all of those changes came from me, exactly, but I put thought into keeping myself motivated and effort into sticking with it. The story I ended up writing has a long way to go, but it’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to start for a long time. I’ve started! That’s quite important.
What have your obstacles been in writing (and tea, I suppose), and what have you needed to do to overcome them?
One more thing! Writer-talk time is very valuable to me and I’m so grateful to be with someone I can share that with. My partner is amazing, spectacular, and my favorite person in the world. Today is our three year anniversary and I am loving the epic journey we’re on. ❤