Sunday, November 3, 2013

How to Write in the Real World

This year, I’ve enlisted some of my writing buddies to help me blog about the wonderful/frustrating experience that is NaNoWriMo. This is from Adrienne, a friend I met last year.

Greetings out there in Nano-Land!!

As you are embarking on this inspiring, awesome, maddening season of NaNoWriMo, many for the first time, you start out with intentions.  Take me, for instance.  When I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo last year, I just knew I was going to go home from work every evening and pound out thousands of words that were just inspired by the writing muses and cross that finish line ready to talk to an agent on December 1.  Well…you know where they say the path of good intentions always leads…

So there I am… November 3rd or 4th of last year—bad day at work, standing plans with friends for our weekly meal, I’m tired.  No writing.  Then comes the weekend…football games, my parents ended up coming to town.  I had no clean clothes so I needed to do the laundry.  Word count at this point—256 (I think).  Okay, I’ll really kick it in gear next week.  Next week comes—busy week at work with exhausting meetings, followed by weekly dinner and weekly movie night.  The other two weeknights I don’t want to think so I sit watching mindless tv and go to bed.  Weekend comes—more football; family visit to my grandma’s.  Word count—256.  The following week was Thanksgiving.  Yeah—not happening.  I just hung up my NaNo hat and said “next year.”

I paint this horrific NaNo picture for myself, not just for you.  I think for a lot of us “first-timers” over-estimate exactly how much free time we have or how easy pounding out 1,600 words a day is going to be.  Life happens.  You have a crap day at work.  Your family drops in for a surprise visit.  Your washing machine blows up, spewing soap suds and wet socks everywhere.  What have you.  The key, I think, is to not let these interruptions become a complete road block on the NaNo freeway.  Everyone is busy in their own way.  I have a standing date with two friends every Tuesday for a movie night.  Every other Thursday, I meet another group of friends for dinner.  Then, on top of that, I have season tickets to our local university’s football games—and I am a DIE-HARD fan.  I do NOT miss football, but I digress...  What you have to do is find a way to write in and amongst the busy-ness that is your life.  I’m taking this hard-earned lesson myself this year.  Here are some things that I’m planning on doing that I think may help.

✓    Look at your writing as an escape from the sordidness that is your day job rather than another “chore”.  (This I think will help me more than anything else.)  Work sucked today?  Great! You can completely absorb yourself in another world of your own making where the evil manager gets hit by a bus!  (If you like….)

✓    If you have standing social commitments, see if you can minimize those during NaNoWriMo.   Last year, my standing dinner was every week.  Due to changing circumstances, we now meet every other week.  This already halves the commitment from what it was last year.  I’m also going to see if my movie night group will agree to do the same for November. 

✓    Make sure your family and friends know what you’re attempting to do.  If those close to you understand your participation in NaNoWriMo, there are a couple of results. One—they’ll be able to cheer you on all month and make you accountable to someone other than the word counter.  Two—if they are supportive, they’ll limit those “surprise” visits or unnecessary interruptions.  Bonus—if they’re super supportive, they’ll cook or bring you meals so you don’t have to waste precious writing time on stupid things like boiling water or making toast.

✓    Plan time to write for weekends that have unalterable plans.  This year, I’m already keeping my Saturday mornings completely free for writing since I know that I’ll be going to football games in the afternoon. 

✓    Don’t skip more than one day in a row of writing.  If you don’t write on Monday for whatever reason, then you must write on Tuesday—even if only for 256 words.  The more days you skip writing anything at all, the more apt you are to just drop NaNo on the wayside.

✓    Attend regional events.  Get to know fellow WriMos in your area.  Attend write-ins whenever possible.  Being surrounded by people writing just like you will keep up your excitement for NaNoWriMo.

✓    Finally—right now… after you read this post… go buy two large packages of underwear (the packages that have 11 pairs in them).  Do it.  Buy the underwear.  This way, you can skip laundry the entire month without fear… you’ll have clean underwear until Nov 30th.   

Good luck my fellow authors!  Enjoy this process, and if you have minor mishaps—as we all do—don’t beat yourself up over it.  Just keep going.  I’ll catch ya on the other side in December!

This is Adrienne’s second attempt at NaNoWriMo.  Although currently harnessed into a day job for “survival reasons,” she’s striving for a finished manuscript and subsequent publication.  The North Carolina native has a BA in English Literature, has over a decade of teaching experience under her belt,  is an amateur movie critic, and an LPGA  golfer (…only in her head, mind you).  If you’re looking for ways to procrastinate in your writing pursuits, you can see her sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek movie reviews on her blog:

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