Blockhead

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Hoping for a triple word score.

I like to read about writing. (I even blogged about it.) And while I enjoy reading about writing for the simple sake of reading about writing, most often I’m reading about writing because I’m having trouble writing about… anything. That sounds like writer’s block, you say? Yes, I’m familiar with the term.

During a recent writing rut, I came across some interesting advice that compared writing a shitty first draft to running a marathon. Of course my first thought was, I have never actually completed a marathon so this comparison is completely useless. My second thought was, I have never actually completed a first draft of book-length proportions, so any and all advice will do. Also, I’ve tried running and I’ve tried writing and attempting to do too much of either almost always ends in me collapsing on the floor. So in the midst of my writer’s blah (when you’re writing, but it’s all very blah) I decided to give it a try.

The gist was this: you run a marathon from start to finish (I’m told). Considering this, you wouldn’t turn around and re-run sections of the race if your pace wasn’t perfect, now would you? (Would you? I dunno.) So, when writing your shitty first draft, write from start to finish. Don’t stop, turn around and re-write certain sections of your work. Perfection is not the point when it comes to finishing your first draft. Head down, forward motion and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. (Can you hydrate during a marathon with red wine? Again, I dunno.)

This made sense. And a few wavering edits notwithstanding, this is what I’ve attempted to do. The funny thing is, it’s starting to work! The further I ramble on into my story, the easier it is to keep writing. (This is not my experience with running long distances, however, where the further I ramble on, the harder it is not to die.)

I still stumble, stop, and sometimes fall. I often have to force myself to keep going, no matter how slow the going is. Much like running, I find the anticipation of a scheduled writing hour or two much more anxiety inducing than the act of writing itself. But now that my ideas are flowing more freely, I’ve started to look forward to each new run at this writing thing.

Who knows what this means for me. Maybe I’ve found a solution to my writer’s block? Maybe I can finally finish this first draft? Maybe I should run a marathon? I don’t know, but I’m excited.

(Actually, I do know, and the answers are maybe, hopefully and not bloody likely.)

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NaNoWriMo (A recap)

It’s official. It’s over. (For me, anyway.) While there are still a few hours left in November, I’ve clocked and verified my word count for the very last time and logged out of my account for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

The results are…. not pretty. Pretty shameful, really. In fact, here is a comprehensive list of things that are longer than my NaNoWriMo attempt for 2015:

  • My to-do list for December
  • My next credit card statement
  • This blog entry, probably

I started off strong, even earning a few badges for consecutive writing days and hitting a few milestones (hello, 10,000 words) but in the end, I fell far, far short of the 50,000 word finish line.

I have no regrets, except that I have two regrets. The first is that I didn’t realize there were only 30 days in November until yesterday. The other is that I let myself off the hook before the month even began.

If you recall, I wrote a post at the beginning of the month congratulating myself for simply deciding to participate in NaNoWriMo. I had already given myself a pat on the back. Just for showing up. I immediately opted out of the commitment of reaching 50,000 words because I was afraid of falling short. I didn’t want the pressure. I didn’t want the deadline.

But I do have a deadline. It’s January 4. I need to write as much as possible on this project by the early new year to make the most of an exciting new opportunity. And with all the craziness that December brings, November was supposed to be my cabin in the woods. It was my moment to write like no one’s reading and type like no one’s constantly stepping on my keyboard with her kitten paws and pleading purrs. (Ok, I’ll admit, kittens are always a welcome interruption.)

Things got busy, and day after day my focus slipped away from writing and onto other things. I’m happy I tried, I’m happy I wrote as much as I did, but I have much more to do. And things will only get busier.

I guess this is just one more in a long list of lessons for me (yet another thing that is longer than my NaNoWriMo attempt for 2015), and that is: the story isn’t going to write itself. (You’d think I would have learned this already.) I have to be accountable to myself, because no gimmick, no mentor, no husband/cheering squad can bring pen to page on my behalf. These words belong to me.

And the kitten. (Although most of her typing didn’t make much sense, she did clock a higher word count than me.)

So, here’s to December.

NaNoWriMo (Slow-Mo)

I’ve mentioned National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in a previous post. NaNoWriMo is a mostly-online event in which thousands of writers from around the world use the 30 days in November to pen as much as they can. (50,000 words to be exact, which is the total amount words you need to write to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo in the end.)

It’s been around for a while, and there are those who live by it, and those (likely me) who die by it. (Death by failure and/or humiliation.)

I’m not totally sold on the idea of binge-writing during NaNoWriMo, but I do need to write, a lot, between now and the end of December. And let’s face it, I’m probably not going to write much during Christmas break. Or leading up to Christmas break. Or following Christmas break. So November’s all I got. Maybe this is the perfect time to try something new and out of the box.

I’m not going to aim for 50,000 words. I’m not even going to aim for half that (although I’d be thrilled). But I will sign up, log in to my NaNoWriMo site each day and update my word count, whether I wrote 20 words, 200 words or 2000 words that day. I will contribute to my latest writing project every day. That is my goal. I *may* even blog about it. (Please forgive me.)

There. It’s November 1, the sun isn’t even up yet and I’ve already written a post. Does that count? It must!*

*It does not.

#amwriting