How is NaNo Serving You?

At the end of a very interesting first week of NaNo, how are you feeling about your writing?

It has been an up-and-down week for me, but it’s ending on a high note. I hope you feel the same. Here are some of the ways I’ve gotten myself back on track when enthusiasm or motivation lagged.

First, I looked at my thoughts- what was I telling myself about the writing (and the life going on all around me)? Awareness of my own thoughts, along with knowing that I choose my thoughts has enabled me to 1) accept myself and my thoughts, and 2) choose thoughts that serve me.

So, for example, this week when I thought writing was drudgery and the world around me felt like a mess of uncertainty and upheaval, I acknowledged that sometimes life just feels that way. Actually, we have negative thoughts about 50% of the time–some more, some less. I tend to be a fairly positive person, but I digress…

In other words, it’s normal and natural to have negative thoughts, and when I accept that, I can move beyond them with some grace. I think about how I’d like to feel, and then I think about what thoughts help me feel that way. I can’t change the circumstances, but I can change my thoughts.

During NaNo I made the wise decision to join with a writing partner. This week when we got together–outdoors on my deck overlooking the forest which is quite inspiring–Sara said she’d had some set-backs and was behind in her word count. But she has written over 50K during the last two NaNos, and she just finished revising one of those novels, then got it out to her beta-readers by October 30. She may be a little writing weary, with good reason. But her plan, somewhat like mine, was to write up to 1000 new words per day while revising another 1000 on the novel she wrote the year before (not the one she just finished). My plan is to transcribe what I’ve written in my notebooks and on cards into the computer, while also bringing what I’ve got into line with the story as I now know it…

However, once NaNo got underway and Sara stared at the graph, she felt like she was falling behind if she didn’t write 1667+ new words each day. She quickly caved, laid low by the NaNo word count calculator, instead of writing and revising in service of her story. She was also using a new program that had her “world-building” and writing character sketches, etc.  all possibly profitable, if that is the way you write. But I’ve found I build the world around my story, and my characters develop at their own pace. Sometimes a template can throw off a writer. In talking together, she decided to set the template aside and go back to what was working. We also chatted about tropes, and brought them into writing from our timed prompts, all exercises she, and I enjoy. If this isn’t for fun, why are we doing it?

I know writing isn’t always fun. But having written always feels good, so I remind myself of that when I need to. And then I look for thoughts and activities that push my writing forward while also playing with words and scenes, and even art, that inspires my writing. Seeing the work of writing as play, and as a privilege- I get to sit here and create a story–helps me re-frame my thoughts so I enjoy what I’m doing. And that helps me stick with the writing.

I’d love to hear how you’re doing, and if I can offer anything helpful, let me know.

Until next time,

Writer Hugs from Ekphrastic Mama

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