My most recent posts were on staying true to the self, discovering and embracing our likes and dislikes, and playing up our strengths over our weaknesses.
I know I do NOT perform well under pressure real or imagined. If I feel rushed in any way I shut down.
I know I am NOT competitive. I don’t see the point in stressing out just so I can say I did something faster or better than someone else. Honestly, in my case, completion in itself is worth cheering. Lots of cheering.
I know that I can’t stand spending much time in front of a screen, particularly if I feel it’s taking precious time from other activities that I deem more important.
YET, knowing all of this, I still deigned it neccessary to take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
I’m 9 days in, and here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1) I already have a strong writing habit. Between my journal and my blog I write at least 400 words a day. Every day.
2) During my daughter’s nap, I can usually bust out about 700 words on my novel.
3) When I feel the pressure of a specified word count and looming deadline it makes me irritable and resentful of something that usually brings joy. I should be celebrating the fact that I sat down and worked on my novel or blog that day at all.
4) I always thought before bed was my best writing time. That’s only partially correct. The quiet hour before bed is awesome for journaling or writing poetry by candlelight, but absolutely terrible for novel writing and ramping up creative energies. That dark quiet time before bed is my SACRED time, my holy relaxation time, my visit with my husband, or commune with myself, or get an extra hour of sleep time. By cramming a few hundred more words of work into that space, I only succeeded in taking away the part of the day I love most.
5) Writing a novel on a computer or a tablet is not for me. That being said, writing one by hand only to have to go back later and type it up on a computer doesn’t sound all that glamorous either. So, I’m opening door number 3 and testing out a cheap handheld Alphasmart NEO wordprocessor. It has a comfortable (they say) full keyboard, a memory that holds about 50,000 words, connects via USB to any computer to upload your document for editing or printing, and the added beauty of a screen that shows only four sentences, does not allow editing, and has no internet, games or other distractions. Plus, it’s ridiculously portable.
So, will I continue with the book I started 9 days ago? Yes! It’s incredibly gratifying to see the words add up and run all over the paper. I’m enjoying the antics of my characters and discovering what it’s like to FINALLY make it beyond the first chapter of a fictional endeavor.
I can only realistically hold myself to about 700 words a day, and really only 5 days a week. And there’s no novel writing after dark anymore. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone by writing a book. And a huge word tally certainly isn’t worth a tired mom and grumpy children.
I suppose my goal could be restated as this:
“To write a 50,000 word novel in 4 months, while simultaneously posting on my blog regularly, journaling as needed, allowing myself time to read books I’m interested in, nourishing myself, my husband and my children both spiritually and physically, and still squeezing in the occasional shower.”
I may not be a NANOWRIMO winner, but I know and love myself enough to know that I can still be a successful writer and mother by embracing my limitations and preferences and celebrating what it is I am capapble of doing.
Image: My proud writing professor and I after teaching a creative writing course at the Mississippi State Pen. in 2007.