Writing inspirations – the glory of Notre Dame Cathedral

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is Notre Dame Cathedral. I took this photo late in the day after Evensong had finished, hand-held, using Fuji ASA 200 Supericolor stock. I had to guess the exposure, as my light meter decided to break just at that instant. But it came out OK.

I took this photo by guesswork after my camera's light meter broke. I was using 200 asa Fujicolor film which I figured was going to be pretty forgiving - and so it turned out.

I took this photo by guesswork after my camera’s light meter broke.

Notre Dame is an inspiring place in so many ways, bringing together as it does such a fabulous blend of tradition, culture, history, fantastic architecture – and mythology, right there in the heart of a wonderful city, Paris.

Have you been to Notre Dame? And does it inspire you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – Sydney harbour on a sunny Saturday

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants as they plan for next month’s writing sprint and for writers of all persuasions – is a photo I took the other week of Sydney harbour on a sunny Saturday afternoon, filled with boats scurrying in all directions.

Sydney harbour on a sunny Saturday afternoon...

Sydney harbour on a sunny Saturday afternoon…

Sydney has to be one of the world’s great cities – certainly, with its bridge and Opera House, one of the most iconic. What we forget is that it is also a city of vibrant life, pivoting around Port Jackson with its 240 km of winding coastline.

Have you been to Sydney? And does it inspire you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – Gandalf and friend in Wellington airport

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is a photo I took last week in Wellington airport.

Gandalf and friend...

Gandalf and friend…

This sculpture, by Weta Workshop, is enormous. Effectively life size. And, though we all know Tolkien’s story, I think there’s a good deal there to inspire original tales of our own, if we step back and let our imaginations drift.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – sombre gravestones in a sudden sun

Today’s writing inspiration – for NaNoWriMo entrants and for writers of all persuasions – is a photo I took of headstones at Dovedale cemetery, near Nelson, New Zealand.

Headstones at Dovedale, 2013.

Headstones at Dovedale, 2013.

It was a patchy day. By the time I took this photo the light was fading – but it carried an electric glow that I tried to capture. There was a mood to it. Inspiring? I hope so.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Fellow writers – here’s the 2014 NaNo inspiration schedule.

It’s National November Writing Month again folks – just three weeks to go before it begins, and to help you along I’ve got some posts coming up about writing. These include posts about structure, about how to build characters, and about how to keep writing even when the muse departs.

Yes, like a geeky Tolkien fan I had to pose in the entrance, such as it was - you could circle it, just like the door Aslan made to get rid of the Telmarines in .Prince Caspian'.

Yes, I had to pose in the entrance of the 2012 Hobbit Artisan Market in central Wellington, such as it was – you could circle it, just like the door Aslan made to get rid of the Telmarines in Prince Caspian’. Am I a geeky Tolkien fan or what?

My background? I’ve been writing since I was seven. I was formally trained in fiction writing, though I am better known for my non-fiction. Many of my publications are in history, but of late I’ve veered back to the sciences, my original passion.

Aside from my feature articles, academic papers and professional work in publishing, I’ve also written and published over 50 books, a fair proportion of them with Penguin Random House.

It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m still learning – as Hemingway says, we’re all apprentices. We’re also all in this together, folks – every writer has something to contribute. And if we work with each other, inspiring others to write great books, we can build a bigger pie for us all to share.

I’ve got a regular schedule planned for the next few weeks, through to the end of November. At this stage the schedule – posted around 7.30 am on the day, New Zealand time (evening before in the US) – is:

Friday – inspirational photo
Saturday – essential writing skills
Sunday – inspirational photo
Monday – more essential writing skills
Wednesday – a post on something else (surprise, though it’s likely to be either science or something about the books).

And I might have some surprises for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Keep a lookout for all this and more. Right here – this bat-time, this bat-channel…

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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It’s NaNoWriMo time again – and here’s the deal

National November Novel Writing Month begins in a few weeks – challenging writers around the world to produce a 50,000 word work of fiction in just 30 days.

Wright_Typewriter2That’s a pace to challenge the best of the professionals. Although it’s definitely do-able. Don’t forget, Jack Kerouac whipped out On The Road in one three-week writing barrage. It’s one of my favourite books and has to be considered a literary classic by any measure.

So really, the question is not ‘whether’, you can blast 50,000 words out in that time-frame, but ‘how’.

We can’t do much better than taking a lead from Kerouac. Despite his intent to write via a spontaneous free-flowing ‘stream of consciousness’, he actually put quite a bit of prior planning into On The Road, including several earlier false starts. When he sat down at his typewriter to begin the marathon, he already had his characters sorted out, the plot and events in his head, and knew where he was going. The detail of his text then danced around that in what, to my mind, was an ideal blend of pre-planned structure with the soaring creativity of free-flow writing.

Progress, nineteenth century style; bigger, faster, heavier... more Mordor.

That’s me by the truck. A double-size truck designed to carry 100-ton loads in one hit – but not daunting, once it’s figured out. Like a novel, really…

Of course it’s easy to say that. The real issue is doing. And I’m going to help you. Over the next while, through the lead-up to NaNoWriMo and beyond, I’ll be detailing just how to make all that happen. How to write stuff – fast and well. I’ve got some posts lined up that’ll give you tips, tricks and techniques for getting there – plus, to fill the gaps between the regular posts, I’ll be re-blogging a few classics from my earlier NaNoWriMo advice, years ago. And check out other stuff on this blog, too – I’ve put up a lot of writing tips and techniques over the years.

Writing well? Sure. One of the conceits of NaNoWriMo is that anything blurted out in a month will always only be ‘first draft’ – the intent is to get people writing as much as anything else.

I disagree. I think that with the right amount of pre-work and planning, it’s possible to write something good in that time. That’s right – 50,000 quality words. In thirty days.

Stick around. I’ll show you. I’ve got regular posts lined up about how to do it, inspirational posts to spur your thinking, and more. Watch this space.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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Writing inspirations – inside the cathedral of light, Sainte Chappelle

I’m opening a new series of writing inspiration posts with a photo I took of a lesser known cathedral in the heart of Paris – Sainte Chappelle. It’s on the Isle de Cite, about a block from Notre Dame. Have any of you been there?

St Chappelle, Paris - a photo I took using Fujicolour 200 asa film at 1/125th with an exposure time of around 1 second. It worked.

St Chappelle, Paris – a photo I took using Fujicolour 200 asa film at f.8 with an exposure time of around 1 second. It worked.

This cathedral is truly awesome, because of the slender tracery that holds up the roof. You wouldn’t think stone has such tensile strength. Being an inveterate geek – sorry, ‘intellectual badass’ – I spent a good deal of time working out how the twelfth-century engineers had done it. And the effect is amazing. As, indeed, it was intended to be. A cathedral of light. I find it inspiring. Do you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

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