<![CDATA[The Naked Writer]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/blogRSS for NodeMon, 23 May 2022 10:53:34 GMT<![CDATA[Day 247 - 500 in 15]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-247-500-in-1561addd11dc6270001616940dMon, 06 Dec 2021 10:03:31 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://youtu.be/85tvgUJZqmU

A new thing - live streaming my writing

So, I'm trying a new thing.

I've been a bit caught up in other things over the past few months. Travelling around the country with a family in tow, pandemic lockdowns, business startups, and unexpected pregnancies all have a way of pulling the brain out of a creative space.

So, I decided as a way to both do some shameless self-promotion and also get some writing done, I'd start doing Instagram Livestream writing sessions.

Apparently, building a "platform" as an author is a pretty big part of the self-publishing (and traditional publishing) process, hence the website and blog and YouTube channel and social media stuff.

BUT, for an introvert like me, it doesn't come that naturally. So, each time I think about putting my mug on camera I shy away from it. Today, however, I couldn't procrastinate any longer and I just did it. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. PLUS, at the end of it I had nearly 500 words done, which was more than yesterday. Heck, it was more than last week!

So, I'm going to try make this a regular thing. If you're interested in joining me, feel free to jump on the MoJo Instagram page which is where I'll be streaming. Sessions will be about 20-30mins total, but the writing time will only be 15 minutes with the goal of hitting 500 words.

I'd love to see you there.

Today's writing session

In today's session, I'm working on the chapter where Bastion is in the Solarii library to research information about the witch in the hopes that he and his friends will be able to find a way to stop her from 1) killing children (always important), and 2) tearing a hole in the fabric of the world and letting the big bad darkness in.

It's feeling like a bit of a blah scene to me, I think because I haven't really figured out the "world" of the library and Solarii culture very well. But that's because I want to just get on and write the thing instead of spending forever world-building.

Anyway, as you'll see from the video, Bastion comes across a bit of a bullying session in progress and decides to get himself involved.

Enjoy.

PS - You can also now find my various interweb personas here.

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<![CDATA[Day 219 - Slow progress and BIG NEWS]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-219-slow-progress-and-big-news618b4aa702a9210016906865Wed, 10 Nov 2021 04:43:22 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxxZ_BNc4p8

So, it's NaNoWriMo time again. I decided I would give it a shot. I haven't done it for a few years but, seeing as I'm in the middle of a WIP, I thought "why not?".

We are now 10 days into Nano and how am I doing?

I've only written about 300 words . The goal is 50,000. Which means I need to write an average of 2,485 words per day for the rest of the month.

It's actually pretty doable, but it's also not the greatest start. But, there's a few other things going on at the moment, so I'm not gonna be too tough on myself. As it says in the video, WE'RE PREGNANT!!! Number 5 in the litter. Something we were definitely not planning or expecting. Particularly in the middle of trying to start a business, trying to find somewhere to live, in the middle of a pandemic, while also trying to finish a novel.

But hey. Life's an adventure right? Doesn't everyone write a novel this way?

I will say that, in the eternal juggle of daily priorities, life is conspiring to push my writing out the door. Again. The push to start a business means that my brain space is not focused on writing. And brain space is pretty important when you are trying to fill a world with people that did not previously exist prior to me writing about them.

Not sure how I'm gonna find the oomph to write a few thousand words per day, but I'm a secret optimist. I'm sure I'll find a way.

Any suggestions floating around out there?

J.

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<![CDATA[Day 179 - My 10K Day!!]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-179-my-10k-day613291f15a01a800163d6427Fri, 03 Sep 2021 22:32:25 GMTJared Viljoen

Day 179! I can't believe I've been on this journey for that long already. Time flies when you're trying to publish a novel. Granted, a lot of that time was not spent writing a novel, but, yeah, I'm trying to change that now. In that time we came up with a novel idea, then I totally scrapped that and went down a totally different path. We started a business and released our first product (see below). And, we became officially homeless and are travelling the country looking for our new home and have the kids being homeschooled (with the help of correspondence school) until the end of the year. So, lots of things going on.

But, nooooothing should get in the way of the writing, right?

The last few weeks have actually been pretty good. We've been travelling around the country like gypsies for about seven weeks now, and then lockdown hit. Thankfully, we've had a great place to stay at my wife's aunty's house (think rolling New Zealand countryside), which has been awesome for the kids. Thanks Aunty Fiona and Uncle Michael! And, it has also been really good for the writing. I've been able to get into a bit of a writing rhythm here. Maybe it's the country air or something, but I've been hitting out some solid writing numbers for the past week or two (3K average, 5K, 8K). And being in this good rhythm lead me to think the other day "Why don't I try go for a 10K day!".

Now, I've hit 10K+ in the distant past. Probably about four years ago. But, it is by no means a common thing for me. I know there are crazy people out there that can hit 10K per day easy, but I ain't one of them.

10K words per day is kinda a magical number. If I hit that everyday for two weeks I'd have a 140,000 word novel. Heck, that's two novels! At those numbers I could be pumping it out, releasing a book every few weeks like some of those people on Kindle. At least, that's the fantasy. But, I've always been a fan of fantasy, so the other day I thought to myself, "let's give this a go!"

I was pumped. I was gonna do it. I posted it on social media.

Then I got a headache. I didn't do it.

I still managed to get out over 3K words, which is pretty respectable, but it wasn't anywhere near that magical 10K that I wanted. So, the next day (yesterday) I recommitted... AND I DID IT!!

Yes, that's right. I hit 10K words in one day. At the end, the heavens opened, I heard choirs, the writing gods descended and granted me official status in the Writer's Realm and I will forever have any and all words written blessed by the Muse.

No. That's not right. I was tired and I shut my laptop and I went to sleep. But, it did feel good. And it wasn't even 8 hours sitting in front of the desk. Heck, at one point I was reclining on the couch watching Mission Impossible 5. So, I thought I'd walk you through my day of hitting 10K words, and how it was for me. Others may have a different experience.

My 10,000 word schedule.

Below was how my day played out, as recorded in my Writer's MoJo (remember that business I mentioned above... you can buy your copy here... it's awesome, it really is). Let me walk you through it.

As mentioned, I had a goal for 10K, also recorded in my MoJo:

7:30am - So, the day started slow. I slept in longer than I planned and dragged myself out of bed around 7:30am.

7:40ish am - Then it was into some writing. I think I managed to hit about 1,500 words. I try get some in first thing, as it gets me off to a good start.

9:00am - Then I had to break off for family needs and I was also getting hungry. So, breakfast and some other faffing about.

11:00am - I eventually sat down for some serious focused time just before 11am. Feeling pretty good here, and I managed just under 5K before I stopped at 12:30pm. We were booked in for COVID-19 vaccinations, so that chewed up a few hours, especially when some grocery shopping and Wendy's drive-thru was also thrown in.

3:00pm - After that, it was time for more writing around 3pm. I was feeling a bit sluggish here, and the words were not coming very fast. But, amidst much pacing and gazing into space, I still managed to drag things up to around 8.5K by the time dinner hit.

7:00pm - Time for dinner and socialising with the family. Then, after dinner we've been working our way through the Mission Impossible movies, so that eventually started around 8:30pm. I did manage to throw a few more words down, but my heart wasn't really in it at this stage. I was tired.

8:30pm or thereabouts - Movie time. I was tired. I knew I had more words to write to hit 10K, but I also didn't want to miss the movie. We were up to MI:5 now, and you can't break a streak like that once you're on it. So, I laid back on the couch and enjoyed the movie. It also felt good to lie back after sitting up typing for so long. Then, at around the 3/4 mark in the film, I thought I should try get a few more words down. So, I pulled out the laptop that was hiding under the couch and banged out a few more words while watching Tom Cruise once again pull a mask off his face. I maybe hit around 400 words doing this.

10:45pm-ish - I'm tired now. The movie's over. We're saying goodnight to the extended family and walking back down to the little unit that our family is staying in. It's cold but the stars are looking pretty good out here. The kids are jumping into bed, and my bed is looking pretty nice. But, at the back of my mind I'm thinking "you're so close!" So...

11:00pm - I open up the laptop, sit down at the desk and start smashing out the words. By now, I'm not really interested in the quality, I'm not agonising over words (I don't tend to do that at the best of times, at least on first go), I'm just getting through the scene. About ten minutes later, I check my wordcount for the day and I'm at 10,045 words! I DID IT! I save (A.L.W.A.Y.S S.A.V.E!), close the laptop with a satisfying (gentle) slam, and crawl into bed and fall promptly asleep.

And, that was it. I managed to hit the magical number. Unfortunately, as I sit here typing now my brain starts thinking "if you hit 10K yesterday, with some pretty big interruptions, how much do you think you could hit with if you really focused?". But, I'm trying to ignore that voice for the moment.

So, what does all this mean? I have no idea, but I do have some takeaways for hitting 10K+ in one day so here they are:

Jared's learnings from writing 10,000 words in 1 day

  • Writing fast requires prior prep-time so, outline, outline, outline. I'm a relatively fast draft writer (average about 1000 words per 30 minutes). But, I slow down a lot when I don't have an outline. So, for each chapter I was hitting yesterday I had already pre-planned what that chapter was about and I wasn't spending much time figuring things out.
  • Figure out your beats - While I had some beats of each chapter figured out, I hadn't really dug much into some of these scenes in my head. Some of them required a little world building, and I hadn't thought that through. So, in the latter part of the day, when I was writing these scenes, my writing started to slow down as I was trying to think about what a particular room or building looked like, or what was a particular ceremony supposed to do. Having these world-building aspects already done, would have allowed me to work a lot faster and not make it feel like such a grind.
  • Quality may drop - I was writing fast yesterday, but I wouldn't say the quality was amazing. I don't think it was terrible, but one thing I think I notice about my 'fast' writing is that it becomes very 'bullet-pointey'. The writing starts to lose the little colourful details and flourishes that add texture to a character and descriptions become quick outlines. Of course, this can all be fleshed out in the re-write and edit, but just be aware that writing fast means you're likely going to spend a little more time colouring in the spaces you left blank on the first pass. Some writers wouldn't be comfortable with this. Me? I don't mind. In some spaces I just insert an XXX where I can't remember a characters name or I haven't thought through a particular detail. I'll just come back and fix it up later. For me, it's all about pushing through to completing that first draft because I'm someone that is in danger of losing steam and not finishing. Speed helps me. As Stephen King said, I try to write fast enough to outrun the demons. Others may not be like that and prefer to craft their story more slowly on the first round. All good.
  • It's tiring - writing can be quite tiring. It's fine when a scene excites you, but not all scenes do that. I had a few of those yesterday. So, at times it felt like a bit of a slog and my brain was struggling to fire and quickly. It might also be because I am hitting the murky middle of the story now, which is always the hardest part. I'm sitting at around 57K words , and it's going longer than planned, which is another problem I have. I tend to write long. So, the scenes are coming a bit harder, the story is losing its 'new' shine. Which again, is why the speed helps me. It stops me sitting around thinking about what other great story I could come up with.
  • Get a comfortable chair! Writing, as you may expect, will require lots of time sitting down staring at a screen. Having a comfortable chair will be massive! The chair I'm on gets quite uncomfortable after a while, and I find myself pacing a lot, moving to a couch, moving back to the desk, etc. It probably doesn't help that I seem to have hurt my tailbone by falling over but the lesson stands, get a comfortable chair!

And there you go. Some learnings from writing 10K in 1 day. I'm not sure if I'm gonna try keep up this pace. It could be pretty gruelling to go for that day after day. At the moment I wanna at least hit 5K per day (5/6 writing days per week). But, ya never know. I'm just keen to get this thing done, especially after such a slow start.

Till next time.

J.

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<![CDATA[Day 153 - A slow writing journey]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-153-a-slow-writing-journey6110a12348ee3d0015d61b44Mon, 09 Aug 2021 03:50:03 GMTJared Viljoen

(My workspace where we're staying in Raglan, New Zealand. Love this loft room. Perfect writing space, but sadly only here for another few days.)

It's been a while. By my calculation, it's day 153 since I began. I wish I could say that I've accomplished a lot since the last entry. But, that is not how the journey has progressed.

Since the last entry a few things have been going on that have interfered with the writing process:

  • We have been working hard on building our business and released our first product (check it out here - it's pretty awesome, if I do say so myself - see shameless promo image below too).
  • We had to unexpectedly move out of the home we were living in.
  • We sold all (well, nearly all... there are 2 or 3 boxes stored at my parents) of our worldly possessions, packed what we needed in our car, and are now on the road searching for our next home. We're nomads!

Needless to say, my brain has not been as focused on writing as it could have been.

But, I'm still here. Still pottering away. And in the past two weeks I've even been working on building my new book. I don't have a title yet but there'll be magic, and witches, and a guy to called Bastien. I'm hoping () that I'll have a draft done by the end of August. Because, why not?

I'm living a writer's dream, right? I'm on the road, seeing beautiful things in a pretty beautiful country, surrounded by inspiration at nearly every bend of the road.

It's almost like a long-term writer's retreat, albeit with the whole family in tow, but it's not too far off.

So, what this means is that I really should be able to get a lot more updates and things going on here.

Which is exciting! Till next time!

Jared.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE WRITER'S MOJO

The Writer's MoJo: the ultimate motivation journal/planner/notebook for writers. BUY ONE (please).

The Writer's MoJo includes: daily planning pages, psychological exercises to get and stay motivated, writing planning pagers, monthly and weekly planning pages, and more!

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<![CDATA[Day 32 - I'm changing direction]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-32-i-m-changing-direction606ffaf91e529b0015bc5b23Fri, 09 Apr 2021 07:27:32 GMTJared Viljoen

Well, it happened.

I had an idea. I'd started working on that idea, created some characters, got down some plot points.

Then, I get another idea.

This idea looks new and shiny.

I'm quite excited about this idea.

I abandon the old idea.

Luckily though, I'm still in the early stages of 'The Peninsula' . It would be more of a problem if I had got a shiny new idea in the middle of the journey. But, because it's the beginning I don't feel so bad about changing direction.

To be honest, I was never that excited about 'The Peninsula'. I could see a story forming, could even imagine writing some of the scenes, but the story didn't grab me and get those creative juices bubbling. Now, I'm not someone that is a hardline believer in the "you've got to feel it to write it" approach. Sometimes you've just got to punch something out and pay the bills (one day Jared, one day). But, it definitely helps to have some excitement about a story, particularly if you are going to be spending a significant portion of your week with it.

Part of the blame lies with reading. I was reading some books over the weekend, and they got me thinking. They were really good books about the business of being an 'indie' author (and I mean 'self-published' when I use that term) and how you can actually make a living out of this passion.

I highly recommend the books if you're interested in the nitty-gritty and numbers of actually making some money:

So, I was reading and I started thinking about what would I need to do to actually start making money, and not money in two or three or five or ten years when someone finally signs a contract with me, but maybe in 3 months or 6 or 12. To do this, it looks like you need to really pump out a new novel quite regularly, and it should ideally be part of a series.

Then I began thinking some more, and started crunching some numbers, and wondered to myself what story could I tell with relatively short books (80,000 words or so) that I could write relatively quickly.

And my shiny new idea was born.

I've discussed it with 'She Who Shall Not Be Named' and she thinks it's good. I needed to check in because I am prone to dropping projects and wanting to start something new. She has given her stamp of approval. That's not to say 'The Peninsula' won't be written, but it won't be the main focus of the journey.

So, here we are. A new direction, a new idea. Watch this space for more details. I've already started fleshing out the plot and have even put down 1,510 words! Which is pretty awesome.

Till next time,

J.

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<![CDATA[Day 23 - Brainstorming problems]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-23-brainstorming-problems6064d54743ab350015f7bc96Wed, 31 Mar 2021 20:32:52 GMTJared Viljoen

Well, we have some basic points for the story established:

  • We've identified the basic plot idea / premise
  • We've identified some themes / controlling ideas that we think are pretty central to this story.
  • We've got the main players, at least loosely outlined

Now it's time to start figuring out some problems. I like to just spend some time brainstorming all the things that could potentially go wrong for my protagonist. I'm not trying to be too strict here, but just whatever comes to mind and have a bit of fun. Of course, it should probably stay within the universe of your story (e.g., I'm not going to have aliens show-up in my domestic, non-scifi thriller). But, other than that just have some fun. Put down anything and anything that could really be a problem for your hero and what could stop them from getting their goal.

In the picture above, you can see some of the problems that we came up with yesterday.

My next step will be to take these and put them into some kind of heroic journey.

J.

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<![CDATA[Day 8 - Central themes of the novel]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-8-central-themes-of-the-novel605d61c84bae8a00572bd125Fri, 26 Mar 2021 04:35:38 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://youtu.be/Z9LaJr40Q3g

Themes.

Those elusive, nebulous ideas at the heart of great stories.

Some novelists may not really consider theme too extensively before they start writing. You just have a great idea for a scene or character and want to dive right in there and start writing. Which is absolutely fine. That's kinda what I like to do too.

But, I've become more converted to the power of understanding your theme / controlling idea (for a great discussion on this listen to Shawn Coyne, the author of the Story Grid).

Why would understanding the theme / controlling idea of your story be important? Well, for one, it helps you know what story you are writing. And, I don't just mean plot points here. I mean what your story is about. For example, is it about loss, or revenge, or a father learning to let go. These things are different from plot, but they most definitely inform plot.

Knowing what your theme / controlling idea is can really help you decide on what scenes should or should not be included, or help you know when characters work or they don't. The theme / controlling idea is the meaning at the heart of your story. Now, some books get written and it's not clear what the theme is. Which is fine. But, generally the great novels, the ones that really move us, have some central ideas and themes swirling about at their heart.

So, what is your controlling idea / theme?

In this video, I explore what the themes / controlling ideas of my novel-in-embryo might be and it looks like there are some definite central ideas starting to form.

The Naked Writer is supported by The Writer's MoJo: the ultimate writer's notebook.

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<![CDATA[Day 6 - An idea forms for the novel]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-6-an-idea-forms-for-the-novel605d5c70e5f9c7005701bd04Fri, 26 Mar 2021 04:14:10 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://youtu.be/k5XbMEgitlY

Okay.

It looks like we are starting to develop a bit of an idea of a story now.

As mentioned previously, I'm probably going to set the novel in the area where I live: Gulf Harbour, New Zealand. It's a beautiful (like really beautiful... but I gush) place that has some interesting features that could make a great setting for a novel:

  • It is at the end of a peninsula surround by water (the Hauraki Gulf)
  • It has a marina where people have their boats docked right outside their apartments
  • It has some very wealthy and some not so wealthy families
  • It has multiple beaches
  • Some great cliff tops
  • A bird sanctuary / regional park with walking tracks and lookouts
  • A naval base where secret tsunami experiments were conducted after WWII (no joke)
  • There are extensive tunnels underneath the naval base

And all of that is in an area no more than 5 minutes drive from my house. So, how could I not set a novel here?

I think we are pushing the 'write what you know' principle even further by making the protagonist just an average guy like moi, a father with daughters, like moi. And what does a father of daughter's fear the most? Well, something crazy guy doing something to his daughters of course.

And there we are... the beginning of a big idea.

Let us know in the comments if you have any further ideas you think I could add.

The Naked Writer is supported by The Writer's MoJo: the ultimate writer's notebook.

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<![CDATA[Day 6 - Location Scouting]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-6-location-scouting605d5929a614db00578db592Fri, 26 Mar 2021 03:56:19 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://youtu.be/arPXKRrJCMc

Locations and settings. Some novels do them really well. They become almost another character and it can seep into your skin (I'm thinking 'Wuthering Heights'). And honestly, to me it is often the mark of a novelist who knows what they are doing and one who is just starting out. The former creates settings that I can immediately grasp and where I can orient myself, whereas with the latter I never really get settled. I struggle to picture where I am or where the characters are.

So, how do you come up with settings?

Usually Google would be my best friend here. Google Maps and street view are incredible resources for investigating places you might never have been. Some places even allow you to go on virtual tours.

But, none of that really compares with physically visiting a place and getting a 'feel' for it.

Which is lucky, because with this novel I am starting to work on, it looks like we are going to be setting it in the area where I live. So, I know it quite well and can visit the locations quite easy. 'Write what you know' and all that.

In this video, I'm taking you on a tour of some of the places where the novel will likely be set (remember: anything can change). It also demonstrates that once you get to a place it can spark further ideas. I definitely got a bit of a creepy/supernatural vibe from visiting 'Waterfall Gully' (a generous name if I ever heard one). What do you reckon?

Sponsored by The Writer's MoJo: The ultimate writer's notebook.

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<![CDATA[Day 1 - Getting some story ideas]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/day-1-getting-some-story-ideas605d551e056e6400573c35a3Fri, 26 Mar 2021 03:37:05 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://youtu.be/0t0Dt1OuUsA

The journey is starting.

Here we are coming up with some ideas for what this novel could be about. This is totally off the cuff with nothing pre-prepared. We're just shooting the breeze and seeing where the inspiration leads us.

How do you come up with story ideas. I know a lot of people prefer to wait for inspiration to strike, but I've always been a believer in just finding an idea and going with it, not waiting for it to hit.

Of course, these ideas are just the beginning. Who knows where it will lead.

Let us know if you have any great ideas for a novel or any elaborations on where this could lead.

Now a plug: we are supported by The Writer's MoJo: the ultimate writer's notebook. If you struggle to get your head into the writing game, head on over and see if the Writer's MoJo could be of some help.

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<![CDATA[I blame Stephen King, and others...]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/i-blame-stephen-king-and-others604eca2d5fe99000155a2315Mon, 15 Mar 2021 02:59:13 GMTJared Viljoen

I'm going to totally copy a blog entry from another website here, but as I wrote it, I think it's okay.

I want to lay out where my love for stories and writing came from. Of course, it probably isn't the beginning but, as far as I can tell, it is a beginning.

Though I could start earlier, I’ll go for 10 years old because that’s where my memories coalesce into something somewhat resembling facts. It was the age when I remember noticing stories and words.

I attended Woodlands Park Primary School (ages 5 to 11-ish), a great little school nestled in the bush-clad hills of the Waitakere Ranges. Around the age of 10, I noticed there were some things I definitely enjoyed more than others. I loved story writing time (where far too many ended with that most brilliant of plot devices: the “it was all a dream” conclusion). I started dabbling with poetry a lot then - my teacher had introduced us to Whitman, Coleridge and Blake and tigers burning bright and trippy dreams about Kubla Khan. Perhaps my favourite was reading time on the mat after lunch, where I was first introduced to Raymond E. Feist’s ‘Magician’ (which the teacher never finished) and Roald Dahl’s Henry Sugar (also never finished!).

Around the same time, my mother enthralled me as she read us The Hobbit while I lay curled up in a beanbag in front of the fire. My sisters were not so enthusiastic, but my brother and I loved it. There aren’t many things better than hearing about long journeys and goblins and campfires while in front of your very own fireplace on a winter’s night.

At some point, around the age of 11, I discovered Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I drank it up and, somewhere between the school library and home, I determined I could produce something similar. So began a ten-year obsession with vampires. I spent many hours poring over maps of Transylvania (when I wasn’t trying to follow in Indiana Jones’ footsteps and write Egyptian in my version of the Grail Diary) in the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Atlas - a tome too large for 11-year-old knees that it had to be viewed on the floor or dining table. I became quite familiar with the Carpathian Mountains, as I plotted out my masterpiece. It never occurred to me I was basically just ripping off different versions of Stokers’ novel. No, I beamed with pride at showing my sixteen handwritten plagiarised pages (Sixteen pages! It was the most I had ever written on one story.) to a former teacher. I even did a high school report on ‘Dracula’ and explored the real history of Vlad Dracul. Got an A+ as I recall.

It was also somewhere between 10 and 11 that Stephen King’s ‘It’ entered my world. That began my love affair with the horror/thriller/character/literary master (I gush, I know). When I was 11, I made a 2-foot papier mâché sculpture of Pennywise’s head to accompany my book report. His hair was born from sacrificing my mother’s red woollen sweater. The killer clown’s appetite knew no bounds! I remember one teacher’s raised eyebrow upon discovering the subject of my project. (Now, I’d probably raise my eyebrow too. I won’t allow my 11-year-old near the book, though she’s tried. Prudish? Probably, but seriously, that book has some whacky moments.) Pennywise later adorned the wall above my bed for many years, complete with gathering dust and cobwebs.

At 13, I started a secret society with my best friend. We called it Societas (Latin for ‘The Society’ - having just started studying Latin, I thought it very clever). The lofty purpose of this institution with a grand membership of two? To study and track old myths and fairy tales to their origins. To reveal the truth behind the fiction. We even had a ritual with a candle and all.

It lasted two weeks, when my friend (who was older) realised that this was just a little too nerdy, and not likely to result in attracting girls.

By now I was devouring Wilbur Smith (which resulted in another plagiaristic bout of alarmingly violent prose), Stephen King, Tolkien, and a host of other fantasy authors. For a time Bryce Courtney’s ‘Power of One’ obsessed me, one of my favourite books to this day. I spent hours traipsing through the endless tropical rainforest behind our house, imagining I was being tutored by Doc, a fantasy influenced by my father’s stories of his adventures growing up in Kenya and being chased by Elephants and Rhinos.

Mixed in with all the reading was performing in over twenty productions with a children’s theatre company (pick a fairytale and we probably did it) where I got to play make-believe in front of an audience. I became obsessed with Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera and spent hours pouring over information about the Paris Opera House and the mysterious (factual) underground lake. Sunday afternoons were for ‘conducting’ the entire musical with three intermissions (it took 2 cassette tapes with about 40 minutes per side) and moulding my teenage tenor voice to match Michael Crawford’s (until all my hard work disappeared into an adult baritone!). Another bout of plagiarism began when my parents took us to see Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. From that point on, every script I worked on came out as a reworking of his portrayal of family tragedy. In my later teens and early twenties I worked on writing a few other (only semi-plagiarised) stage shows and even had some of them performed. I discovered Les Miserables relatively late, but had the privilege of playing Javert in a local production (bad guys are always the best to play). I had well and truly fallen in love with theatre and the power to create a moment of transportational-magic with some music, costumes and lights. I dreamed of the day I would have an unlimited budget to create a truly full-immersion theatrical experience, complete with mechanical seating and all. I’m still dreaming.

Then there were the movies. The Neverending Story had me enthralled from about the age of 4, and I think was the major influence for me loving fantasy novels and movies so much. My parents even bought me a 7-inch vinyl record of the theme song and the Ivory Tower theme (to my young ears, the most beautiful piece of music ever written). We would hold my dad’s belt as he ran around the house, four children in tow, as we pretended to be the Luck Dragon, theme song pumping on our National Panasonic record player. Then there was Star Wars, Indiana Jones (as previously mentioned, another source of obsession), Labyrinth, Troll, The Goonies, Smokey and the Bandit, and whatever else played as the Saturday night feature movie on Channel 2 (the other option being, wait for it… Channel 1!). Our collection of video-recorded movies off the TV grew large enough that my mum had to create a catalogue system to find what we wanted (these were often frustrating to watch because someone usually forgot to press record again after the ads had played - to this day there is a whole scene from ‘Grease’ that I’ve never seen). At 12 years old, I remember working on a film at school with my friends. Because I was a little too obsessed with Stephen King, it was always decidedly dark and someone was always dying, usually in the most bloody way possible. The movie was never finished. Interestingly enough, I’ve married into a family of musicians and singers, and two of my wife’s brothers work in the film industry here in New Zealand. Perhaps my dream of seeing one of my visions on-screen is not so far off?

All of this is to say: I loved stories.

I loved reading them. Writing (plagiarising) them. Listening to them. Watching them. Performing them. Sometimes even singing them.

I was well and truly hooked.

And here I am, some thirty years later and I'm still in love with them and trying to finally write my own.

(Note: I am not affiliated with any of the links in this article. They are provided as information and, maybe, someone else will discover these things I love, and they will love them too.)

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<![CDATA[PLOTTING - here's a free download. ]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/plotting-here-s-a-free-download6049e1c0ada7e7004108da16Thu, 11 Mar 2021 09:42:15 GMTJared Viljoen

Okay, while we wait for She Who Shall Not Be Named to throw together an edit of our rather raw first video diary entry, I'm throwing this up as a placeholder for the phase of novel writing that we will soon be moving into: PLOTTING!

I was never really a plotter. I prefered the creative mystery and freedom of not knowing where I was going, a pantser if you will. Problem was, my story would often lose steam. I often wasn't quite sure how to take things to a conclusion. I realised I needed to sit down and actually get some clarity around what the heck I was writing! BUT, I struggled. I dunno. The whole process of plotting things out (whiteboards, cue cards, aeon timeline) just seemed to hit a wall in my brain.

So, I came up with something that felt fun, a process that I enjoyed and that wouldn't take days and days of agonising over perfect arcs and character tensions and value shifts, etc., etc (not that those are bad, I love them, but more when I'm looking back over work already written).

You may find it useful. All up it should take six days and help you come up with a complete plot. Not a perfect plot, but at least something with a start and a finish to help those of us who are pantsers (and anyone else) not get lost in our own creative brilliance.

In a few short days you may actually see me working through this process on here in video form.

Let me know what you think. But remember... this ain't no masterclass!

J.

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<![CDATA[Day 1 - Welcome to my journey]]>https://www.anakedwriter.com/post/welcome-to-my-journey6049a426554a5e005767ebabThu, 11 Mar 2021 05:22:50 GMTJared Viljoenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP8LtylIihc

This is it. The beginning of a journey. I have to say, I'm not really used to this whole "put myself out on the interwebs for everyone to see" thing. But, we thought it might be a really good thing to do. So, here we are and some explanations are probably in order.

What is this, and why are you naked!?

This is a page where I'm going to document (with the help of my lovely wife, 'She Who Shall Not Be Named') my novel writing journey, from idea to publication (self-published or traditional). I'm going to be laying it all bare (hence the 'nakedness' - so, don't worry, I'm not gonna put you through that unique horror). You'll see me talking about my journey, from coming up with the concepts and plot to the actual writing. You'll see my ups and downs, my moments of inspiration to my moments of low motivation. I'll be putting up my drafts and notes in all their hideous glory. And, you will all have opportunity to contribute to the journey also.

Why are you doing this?

Good question. Really good question.

One, I think it will help motivate me to take something through to completion. I'm a terrible procrastinator and I'm also terrible at consistency. I'm a great starter but a terrible finisher. Maybe, just maybe, putting this all out into the world will push me forward further than ever before.

Two, I think it is great to share the struggle. So often we can follow others who have 'made it', and those are awesome. There is so much to learn from those who have reached the heights. But, what about the rest of us? What about those who are struggling who have not enjoyed the sweet intoxication of success, and bestseller lists, and the adulation of adoring fans? I think there is some benefit in sharing the difficulties of the journey from the perspective of someone who has not 'made it', before success arrives. A fellow traveller, that will hopefully help other travellers keep going. It's a place to find 'joy in the journey' so to speak.

Three, in the spirit of baring it all, I have a product to sell. I've created a tool called The Writer's MoJo that I'm hoping MILLIONS of you will love and buy! I created it to help people like myself who may know about the techniques of writing, but still struggle to get our dreams out of our heads and onto the page. The procrastinators, the scared, the shy, the unmotivated. The Writer's MoJo is for us! So, go register your interest and in a jiffy you'll soon have your very own MoJo to document your struggles and inspirations!

And, four, I just love to talk about writing stuff, and stories, and motivation, etc. Hopefully you do to.

So, that's it really. Watch this space for more exciting things to come. Things could get interesting. But be warned... this ain't no masterclass.

J.

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