In Writing: NaNoWriMo Week 2

Last week, the second week of the challenge, was a struggle. I started off with a bang on the first two chapters of my manuscript. It wasn’t too hard because I had had that part mapped out in my head for quite some time. However, once I completed those chapters, I struggled getting the words for the next two chapters. I was immediately irritated that I’m not more of a strategic writer. In the world of NaNoWriMo, I’m what they call a panser–a person who writes by the seat of their pants. And then in the middle of the week I had to take on grandma duty to babysit my two granddaughters while their mom-my daughter–had some “Me” time…in London! When she asked me to keep them several months ago, I had not decided to be participate in this 50K word novel writing challenge. At that time I had only planned to host write-ins with my library for all the other writers. Nevertheless, I still thought I would have been more productive because the truth is I get most of my writing done when I’m not at home. So I really thought having the girls wouldn’t have affected me. However, I hadn’t considered how the anxiousness of this commitment to babysit 2 under 2 was going to effect my ability to be creative when I did have time to write. Then I was bummed and down in the dumps that I was barely writing 500 words a day when the previous week I was killing it with at least 1,000.

So you can imagine how bleak my outlook became on accomplishing my goal. Today starts week 3 and I’m nowhere near the 50K mark. Not even close enough to half.

But I’m not giving up. I received an email from the NaNoWriMo organization talking about just what I was experiencing.

The writer made reference to this second week of NaNoWriMo being the hardest of the challenge. Why? Because it’s common to lose that momentum of the first week. It’s kind of like when you get an idea for a book and you start writing for the fun of it. Then you hit the spot where you lose the motivation. To keep writing when you’re not inspired or motivated in what us writers like to call the “work” of being a writer. You have to write when you don’t feel like. You have to write when you feel like it’s not making sense to you. You have to write when none of the fancy words in your vocabulary are coming to mind.

Instantly, I felt less alone and more inspired to stay the course. So after I dropped my daughter and granddaughters off at their apartment close to midnight last night, I decided that the next day was my fresh start.

I woke up this morning and grabbed my laptop and got to work!

I’m still in this race!

Another Month, Another Deadline

I know I’m wasn’t alone in my sadness when it was time to flip the calendar from July to August. After all, August is the official last month of summer. And, particularly, in the Midwest, where I live, it means that hot days, the kind where I can where shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops are short-lived. As a writer with, yet another self-imposed deadline to finish developmental edits for a novel I’m writing, flipping the calendar was beyond sad, closer to depressing. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I started working on these edits a year ago when I left my job of 23 years. For the first time in my adult life, I was off for the summer. Suddenly having that much free time while adjusting to this major life change, it goes without saying that I wasn’t in the headspace to give my writing the necessary attention. So when the following July came, a complete year since I left the job and I still hadn’t finished the edits, I declared, “Enough is enough! Time to stop playing with this novel!” Then, I declared I would finish this work by July 31st!

I set out with this goal WITHOUT a strategy for how I would make this happen. I didn’t sit down and look at my schedule to determine what days and hours I would have time to write. For instance, there was a Friday that I was not scheduled to work, and would have written on that day, but I had to drive my son up to Michigan State University for a week he was spending there. And then, that following Friday, when I was off of work, I had to pick him up. It’s only an hour drive from our house, but dealing with kids and colleges is unpredictable. It can be a lot, physically and mentally.

My first MSU alum with my future 2nd MSU alum

Then, the last three days of the month, I travelled to New York to help my friend celebrate her 40th birthday.

Arriving in New York after 7 hr delay in airport. We still managed to smile!

Furthermore, I didn’t even look through the manuscript to determine how many chapters were left to edit, how many I would need to work through per writing session to finish by the deadline. I didn’t think about doing that until the middle of the month. That was also right about the time when I made a major change to the protagonist, which then, sent me back to beginning of the novel to infuse those changes into the story. I knew then that my deadline was out the window, but it was doomed from the start without proper planning.

I don’t like to say this about myself, but the proof is in the pudding. I have never done well with self-accountability. Not with diets, exercise schedules, or writing. I’m too quick to give myself passes when something gets hard. I rationalize the hell of stuff.

“Life is too short to not indulge these bagels and donuts that management was so kind to bring into work,” I’ve been known to say when I’m supposed to avoiding carbs.

“Is this flabby stomach really preventing you from living a fulfilling life?” I have asked myself when I was on day 4 of a 30 day ab challenge.

“You’re not a full-time writer. You can’t expect yourself to write like you are. Your daughter needs to talk to you. You’re a new grandmother. You’re nurturing a new relationship.” I comfort myself when I find myself breaking a scheduled writing session when any of the important people in my life call. I feel such guilt when I put them on DND (do not disturb).

Sometimes I curse the day I decided to write a book. Even more so the day when I declared I actually wanted success as an author–the kind of success in which I could actually make money and support myself. Even knowing that it’s only a small percentage of writers who are privileged to live that life, I’m not ready to give up on the dream of me being one of them. In the meantime, I will continue to do better. Create some accountability partners, no matter how terrifying that is to me.

Now back to these edits…