NaNoWriMo 2015 - the take-home

 

I did it.

I wrote 51,828 words in November. Somehow, despite being busier than ever with Life Stuff, I managed to get 'er done.

Despite my [alleged] preferred writing style.

Despite my [alleged] lack of time.

Go figure.

I'm not sure I'd attempt to write that much in 30 days on a regular basis; there was a LOT that didn't get done during that time - housework, letter-writing, healthy eating, proper dog walks - stuff that's all part and parcel of a full and engaged life.

Okay, maybe the housework isn't necessarily part of my Engaged Life Vision.

As ever - it comes down to balance.

Still -- here's what I've learned in the past 30+ days*

 

Thing #1:

There's always enough time.

My favourite excuse for not-doing is that I only had an hour. I reasoned that my dislike of having my 'creative flow' interrupted was too traumatic to my delicate sensibilities - once I stepped into the river, perish the thought of someone/something yanking me out before I was ready.  Cue the fragile genius histrionics.

SO, in anticipation of inevitable interruption, I just wouldn't start.

Turns out, with five minutes of quick advance outlining, I can actually churn out a couple of thousand words in an hour.

Turns out, the more often I do that, the faster I get.

Turns out, I wrote those 51,828, primarily, with spare hours. Short bursts of intense focus.

Who knew?

 

Thing #2

If left to my own devices, with perpetually adjustable deadlines, and no-one to please but myself - I'm a pantser. Hard core. Just sit down and let the words trickle out. Sometimes it was a deluge - a mighty flood of inspiration and lovely, lovely, words. Sometimes it was an agonizing drip, drip, drip.

It's dreamy and uber-romantic, very sigh-deeply-and-clutch-your-notebook-to-your-bosom, and I freely admit that the entire Sea Glass Trilogy, bar the last half of Soul of the Sea [because I was in such a deep plot-crevasse of my own making and needed to outline my way out] has been written a la pants.

In truth, it's not something I would recommend.

I now consider myself a hybrid plotter-pantser.  While writing this novel, I gave myself a rough outline of the entire story then, just before I'd start my words for the day, I'd take those few minutes to outline what needed to happen. I still had enough open-space to do a bit of pantsing; I still let the story lead me, but with a bit of pre-ordained structure.

It was a bit like putting one of those harness-things on a toddler - you follow the kid's lead, but don't let her run into traffic.

Turns out, it works like a charm.

Turns out, you can adjust your writing style.

Turns out, you have to want to change.

Which brings me to....

 

Thing #3

 

I really needed to want this.

I needed to want it because I had to give up so much to achieve it. I had to shut down, walk away, and turn off. Despite my new, mad skillz with the time management, there's still only 24 hours in the day and much of mine is taken up with Life Stuff. I still have a day-job and I still have a home and family to tend. But everything else is negotiable.

TV watching, internet-surfing, sock-drawer re-organizing -- all of those things can be given up. If you want it badly enough.

But you have to want It**. You have to want It enough to let a whole lot of extraneous crap go.

I wanted - not so much to win NaNoWriMo - but to prove to myself that I really could be a writer. And, honestly, for all the feel-good platitudes and head-patting and ego-bolstering and "of course you're a writer, didn't you write that thing a couple of years ago?" - all of which has propped me up in various ways over the years - I still felt utterly fraudulent.

Because my personal truth is this - I don't believe I'm a writer unless I'm writing.

I'm writing, so that I can be a writer.

Deep, I know.

Final noodle

If I could give only one piece of advice to anyone who even has a passing notion of taking on any creative Something, it would be this:

Start with what you need to give up.

Because that'll tell you how badly you want to do that creative Something and that, in turn,  will tell you how hard you're willing to work.

Which, as far as I can tell, is everything.

~m. xo

 

*the first draft of my novel isn't quite finished - I figure I've got a few more days of work left as I type this.

** It can be anything - goal, idea, dream, vision