I have no idea where this last year has gone! There I was only one short year ago full of the joys and enthusiasm (some may say naiveté) as I embarked on my first NaNoWriMo in 2017. How did that work out for you? You may well ask…
To be fair, I started off reasonably well and in the end I finished up with just under 40,000 words. Not bad for a first attempt and by all accounts I would say that the ‘novel’ is about half way done. But. I learned a few things about myself in the process. And that’s what’s really important I think.
I learned that speed and “just bashing the words out” is not my thing. I learned that I am very much a quality over quantity writer. I admit I was initially enticed by the thought of getting as much out of my head and onto paper as I could, I can always go back and edit it right? I mean, I’ve been talking about this writing dream of mine for years. Unfortunately, that is not how my brain works. I like to edit as I go along, rereading the day before to fuel my momentum (slow though I may be, think Tortoise and Hare).
During NaNoWriMo, I became fixated by the number of words I produced each day and how I was measuring up. I became stressed when I didn’t make the word count for that day and had to try catching up the next, or worse, when I missed a few days on the trot and finally gave up about half way through the month.
I discovered that, while this method works for many aspiring authors (I admire and salute you all!), participating in a write-a-thon sprint like this left me with a messy manuscript, half-baked ideas, gaps and basically a headache because now I need to go back and fix things! It also left me feeling lacklustre about the project which is a shame because I really love it.
When I announced my plan to my husband last year, he told me I was crazy! Not because he doesn’t support my dream of becoming an author, not at all, he’s one of my biggest supporters and super encouraging but he did point out one wee fact that I had neglected to admit to myself in my euphoria about writing the next bestselling novel … that November is probably the single most stressful month I have in the year for my day job.
He was right of course. It was an impossible task for me, I was bound to fail.
Post NaNoWriMo, I wondered fleetingly if I could lift the write-a-thon technique and apply it to another calmer month instead, and who knows, maybe one day I will but …. who am I kidding? Hello Val – did you even read this post?
In fact, if you see me starting to succumb to the magical allure of writing my novel in one month again, would you mind whopping me over the head with a nice thick phone book (do they even still produce those things?) or better still, poke me with a long sharp stick. Much appreciated!
So. As well as having a lovely shiny NaNoWriMo coffee travel mug, I am now also the proud recipient of the “Procrastination Queen” crown.
It’s not that I’m lazy, no seriously I’m not! I am utterly amazing at getting things done (seriously Val, see Map of Procrastination). It’s not even for the lack of ideas, I have tons! Admittedly, sometimes I have too many ideas, perhaps that’s part of the problem. I may be onto something there … I need to focus, finish one thing at a time. Genius! Now why didn’t I think about that before?
Perhaps I have commitment issues? Yes that could be it. But there’s always that long list of important things to get done, the laundry, the gourmet dinner (I love cooking!), the cleaning, the fun socializing, and I have sooo much recorded on my PVR … always so much to do. See, I get lots done!
The dictionary proclaims that procrastination “is the action of delaying or postponing something intentionally and habitually”. Another definition I found suggests that procrastinators “keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring”. Well sure, I can certainly see aspects of that in my day job, who doesn’t?
But I don’t find my writing unpleasant or boring in the least. I love my stories and my characters! They swirl around my head during the day, when I drive and even when I’m trying to get some sleep. My characters are as real to me as the people I interact with. So what’s the problem? I often ask myself this.
Writing is hard, extremely hard, I realize that. But what if I’m not good enough? But what if my story is rubbish? But what if nobody likes it? But what if I never get published? Well, I guess I’ll never know until I finish something and try it. The only ‘but’ I should really be focussing on is getting and keeping my own ‘butt’ in my chair and writing my stories!!
There is some good news in all of this though. I have a new story I’m working on. Yes, it’s true!
I had a fabulous vacation on the island of Cozumel in Mexico earlier this year in May and oh boy did I come home feeling refreshed, inspired and excited! OK, I was also depressed for a bit because it was such a beautiful place and I met a lot of wonderful people, but still, back to being inspired …
I am writing again, pretty much daily (except when dratted work deadlines loom which squish my energy and creativity). I’ve even been experiencing some minor writer’s block at times (hurrah for the joys of being a real writer!).
Through all of this, I have realized something fundamental. Writers write. So each day, even when it’s tough, I keep writing.
I will finish now with a great quote from Bruce Lee and, if you should feel so inclined, I would love to hear from writers out there on how you deal with procrastination.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done”.
Until next time!