Thoughts After the First Week of NaNoWriMo

7 11 2011

Here in Texas the first week of NaNoWriMo will be over in a mere seven hours, and I’ve done what I set out to do – written 16,000 words toward the 50,000 word goal which comprises “winning”. I wanted to be as far ahead as possible, as soon as possible, because November is busy! Assuming that NaNo is an American invention, who in heaven’s name decided to hold it in November? Thanksgiving and the run-up to the holidays notwithstanding, my work schedule is tight, I have guests coming from out of the country in a week, and I’m just now getting over this cold/flu/virus/allergy thing that laid me low over the weekend. (The weekend where I wrote 6000 words.)

I planned to take today off from the novel anyway, and the timing couldn’t be better. I cannot face the book today, I’m bored to tears with it, I don’t know how to get from her to there with it… etc. And that’s just fine, because I know myself well enough to know that later on tonight, or tomorrow, latest, I’ll be ready to pound out another 2000-3000 words, and the next day, and the next, until my next day off.

I’ve been thinking about the choices we make, how we choose (or don’t choose) to spend our time. Speaking for myself, in recent years I’ve been treading water by choosing to spend hours of my life unproductively. One could certainly argue that the time I’ve spent playing games on the iPhone was ‘down time’ where my subconscious was doing its thing, which resulted in me being here, NOW, writing… and that might well be true. But now that I’ve committed to writing each and every day, whether the novels I’m working on, or blogging, or articles for sundry periodicals, I have to look more closely at how I have been living.

My very best friend is a marvelous writer who isn’t writing much at the moment. She’s the reason why I’m writing at all – her example gave me that “what if I were too…” notion that launched me into this profession in the first place. I love her dearly, and am concerned that she spends so much time on Facebook! And when I call her on it she has as many reasons for spending time online, as I did for using iPhone games to avoid the rest of my life.

But for me the real question is: When I get to the end of my life, will I regret how I’ve spent those hours, days, years? For me, now that I have this purpose, I have an answer. No regrets for the time spent here, on my butt in front of the computer, writing. And if I make the choice to spend the hours that I could be writing, playing games on the iPhone (or whatever gadget we’ll all be oohing and aahing over in ten years’ time) then yes, that will be a regret. With this realization, I now have a bottom line. Being published is not the issue (though eventually, that would be nice). Writing is, for me, the most satisfying creative form that I have ever experienced, and I have been a creative person my entire life: musician, artist, weaver, knitter. It is as though at fifty-four I have been reborn, with a new purpose. I’ve found something which I was searching for, without knowing that I was searching.

So I’ll sit down with the laptop and pull up the NaNo book, either tonight or tomorrow, and write some more. And there will be plot dead ends, threads that lead nowhere, ideas that don’t work… and then that flash of brilliance that makes me smile. Draft Zero. That’s the ticket!



11 responses

7 11 2011
Leanne Shirtliffe

Love this post. I had two reactions:
(1) My initial one: AHH! I’m supposed to have 16k done today? Then I realized you were working ahead. Sigh. I have 13k.
(2) My secondary one: WOW. This sentence resonated with me: “Writing is, for me, the most satisfying creative form that I have ever experienced.”

22 11 2011
Julia Indigo

Thank you, Leanne (and I apologize for the late moderation and reply!). Yeah, I wrote ahead, and it’s a good thing that I did, because I was down for the count for several days last week.

I’m glad that you agree with me re: writing. And this comes from someone who’s been a professional classical musician for 30+ years.

7 11 2011
Trish Loye Elliott

Well said. I mean written. This post comes at a good time for me and probably a lot of people. Good luck with Nano!

22 11 2011
Julia Indigo

Thanks, Trish! (and I apologize for replying 2 weeks later omg).

Nano is nano, isn’t it. More on that in a new post tomorrow, latest!

8 11 2011
Karen McFarland

Hi Julia,

What an inspiration! You’re doing great!

I know that it’s a little overwhelming sometimes with everything that happens in life. And it’s interesting how much the writing brings out these feelings in us and we’re not sure how to deal with all of it.

You, like others certainly have a lot going on in your life. Enjoy your visit with your friends. Take time to breathe. With your persistence, I know your going to finish your novel in time!

10 11 2011
Todd Moody (@ToddRMoody)

You are off to a great start, I hope you can keep it up! Launching some good writing vibes your way!

22 11 2011
Julia Indigo

Thank you, Todd, and those writing vibes were great, because today I’m at 41k and climbing. Sorry for the late reply. OMG. Too busy writing!

14 11 2011
Cathy Dreyer

It’s so true Julia. It’s all choices. We have limited time and there are things it would be unhealthy for us not to do, like not being a wife and mother in my case when my family means so much to me. Writing is all new and exciting but it’s not people I love. Sometimes when I think I could do better I’m glad that I spent the time with my kids or husband. But then again, I do spend way too much time on social media, thinking that I’m ‘marketing’ myself when I don’t have anything to sell yet. Shut up and write is my mant-

22 11 2011
Julia Indigo

LOL Cathy. Yeah, nothing like marketing one’s self when there isn’t a finished product yet. In my case, I’m not even locked into a genre yet!

Family is hugely important to most everyone. In my case, not the most important thing, but that’s due to my history, I’d guess.

Limited time + limited resources = choices.

Speaking of limited time/resources, I can’t believe that I didn’t answer this sooner. aaaugh!!! Sorry!

19 11 2011

First, kudos to getting so much writing done! What a way to start off Nano. I hope you have continued to be so prolific.

I found this piece moving and an eloquent meditation on why we write–when it’s so much easier to play on the iphone or tool around Facebook. Writing every day brings the world alive. It is the hardest work I’ve ever done, but something I regret not doing, when I get lazy or overwhelmed.

Thanks for the great post. Write on!


22 11 2011
Julia Indigo

Rebecca! Thank you for the awesome comment. You made my night. I’m so glad that my post meant something to you.

There is something to be said for 20 min with bejeweled, or finding out that a friend sprained her ankle on FB… but at the end of the day, I certainly don’t celebrate the time I spent with the video game!

Sorry that it’s taken so long to reply to this. Uff da. Nano is eating my lunch, but it will be over soon… and then I’ll have to finish the book!

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