People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under.
~ Charles Swindoll ~
This year it would have been easy to opt out of NaNo. It has been a year which has extended me to the limits, both professionally and personally and sitting on the cusp of November I’m already exhausted and the energy seething below the surface is just the adrenalin build-up which will be quickly spent.
The thing is though, as much as I like to think back and consider every other year as easier than the one I’m facing, it’s a lie. There are no halcyon past NaNos. Every year I’ve juggled writing with at least two other things. The first year it was parenting a small child and completing The Artist’s Way. The second and third years, the small child was a little older and in kindy five days a fortnight, but I had a raft of non-fiction writing commitments. Last year I cleared the slates, came back from holiday refreshed and an editing job fell in my lap which I simply couldn’t say no to.
In 2007 I started writing knowing I would be in Sydney at the Homebirth Conference, which literally kept me away from the page on days 3 and 4 (and that was before I realised the couch I was bunking down on was half my size and the neighbours would have an all night party as I tried to work out which half of my body to put on the couch for several nights) In 2009 I had my lower wisdom teeth extracted on the 30th October. And last year, well we arrived back from Malaysia on the 30thafter a great holiday but one where I spent the majority of my nights wrestling with insomnia and staring at a variety of weird and wonderful ceilings.
There’s always something. Life doesn’t stop. And even when you try to manage it, shit just happens.
The Buck Stops Here…
I live in a world, where other peoples’ words and stories are my bread and butter and my own words and stories take a back seat. Every year when I sign up for NaNo, it is my declaration to my self, my family, my peers and the world in general that writing is still relevant and has a meaningful place in my life. And for just 30 days, it will take precedence over everything else. It will be my first priority. NaNo isn’t just important it is essential to me.
The world doesn’t grind to a halt, I haven’t perfected a freeze ray or a timetravelling device or some type of looping device which doubles the numers of hours in a day All I have the power to do is re-order my perpetual (or as Paul likes to term it ‘hydra-headed’) to do list.
At the top, for 30 days, is writing!
NaNo As Platform for Change
For the past two years I’ve tried to use NaNo as a platform for creating a sustainable writing practise (and failed dismally). I have been spat out into December fuelled to keep writing in the past two years, and the new stories penned directly after NaNo have all gone on to be published. So something is happening. It is just not happening all year.
This year I am embracing the wisdom of Jack Dann and some experiences from the earlier in the year in the hope I can kick start a writing practise during November, an enduring routine which will take me through the months after NaNo and hopefully into the years beyond, so I can say with pride I am a writer and an editor, rather than say I am an editor and I try and find the time to write stories as well!
What Jack Said
Jack’s advice is simple: give writing the best part of your day.
I had an epiphany mid August and Jack’s wisdom back it up. I need to give writing the best part of my day (and myself). Why? Because I’m exhausted from the constant battle between professional editing and my personal writing. I need to find a way to circumvent the sap editing has on my own creativity. I need to find a way to write. I need to find a way to write and edit. I need to find a way to stay sane, grounded and focused. These things in my head need to be reguarly cleared out and deposited on the page.
The upshot is: writing belongs to the morning, to the very first thing I do after I drop my son at school, boil the kettle and turn the computer on – whether it be an hour or three.. These are the hours which are rightfully owed to writing.
This year I’m planning to write between 9am and 12pm, every day. I will begin by reading a section from Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind and follow it up with a free writing exercise for 10 minutes, while listening to Decorder Ring. I did this very routine several months ago and found over the week’s I did it, I found it easier to drop quickly down into my writing space, I didn’t faff around for an hour trying to get started on my short stories. When I honoured my writing time, I fuelled myself for the business end of the day — regardless of what it was: structural or copy editing, typesetting, admin, webwork. Writing grounds me, gives me a buzz, energises me. This is something I can no longer ignore.
I don’t mind if I’ve become a bit like Pavlov’s dog. I’ve had an article in my head for months now “Pavlov Pressed Play” about the efficacy of music in writing, in it being a propt to drop you easily down into the zone. I promise I’ll write it at the end of November, where I’ll bark loud and proud about how NaNoWriMo helped me establish new sustainable writing habits which compliment my work as an editor for eMergent.
What do you envisage for NaNo? Do you have a plan of action?
Image via Life is a Bucket