I’m 30,500 words into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and feeling rather pleased with myself (she says, humbly). I’ve learned a whole bunch about writing and about myself. Here are some of my lessons in no particular order:
- Daily practice! The idea of a daily general creative practice, or daily “deep work,” or daily incremental progress towards big goals in any other form has been flying at me from several sources recently. I started this, kinda, back in October after a trip to Bend, but adopted it in a more focused and earnest way with NaNoWriMo because I had a very concrete and measurable daily goal. To “win” NaNoWriMo, you have to write an average of 1667 per day. I have written an average of 1694 per day for 18 days, with only about four days of high or low outliers. This is very out of character for me, but I like it.
- Treat it like a job, and do it whether you feel like it or not. Some days are very flowy. The words pour forth via my fountain pen as though spoon fed to me by angels. On other days, I hold my pen in my fist like a pissed off kindergartner with a fat crayon and miserably scratch out each one. Today was a fat crayon day. But I write regardless, and that feels good. Importantly, I don’t wait for inspiration to strike. I usually have to bribe or cajole inspiration to visit, which seems to happen most often when I am sitting in my office, holding my very-fancy-but-not-as-fancy-as-it-could-be pen, and staring at the blank pages of my teal Leuchtturm1917.
- Do it first. On the good days, I write at least 1,000 words before I do anything else. I get up, put on stretchy pants, make coffee (actually, I usually receive coffee already made), and go downstairs to write. Specifically, I tiptoe downstairs to avoid waking between one and three dogs depending on the day. If the dogs realize I’m awake, this whole process gets more complicated. Most of the days are good days, actually. On the bad days, I don’t wake up early enough to put the dogs’ breakfast and potty walk off for at least an hour in good conscious, or I have to be at work early, or I’m otherwise lazy and undisciplined, and getting my words in gets way harder.
I’m on track to “win” NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words during the month of November. But more importantly, I’m excited to take the things I’m learning now and keep going until I have a polished manuscript. Onward!