and ramblings on everything in between
Like all of you, my life is busy. I think we can all agree that we are a generation of busy people. If you are like me, you flip to a new month and cringe because almost every single day is already filled with something and it’s only the 1st. You vow to not do that to yourself the next month, but 30/31 days go by and you receive countless invitations, reminders, appointments, etc., and before you know it, the next month is filled to the brim as well.
The problem is I don’t know what exactly I’m busy doing. I do a lot of babysitting to support my debt free habit, I serve in a few different ministries at church, I play volleyball and workout, I catch up with friends. None of these things are bad. I would argue that all of them are good, but regardless, they add up to an overweight schedule almost every month.
In the past, I’ve instated a “Say No” month to remind myself to slow down and spend less and find some peace of mind. It works within the parameters of that month whenever I go off the deep end and do it, but I instantly go back to my old, busy ways once I flip the calendar (metaphorically, of course. Who still uses physical calendars?!)
I’ve decided that it’s time to put my foot down once again, only this time I’ll be instating a “Say NaNo” month. I signed up to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. That’s right, I’m trading in my busy schedule for a (most definitely) busier schedule of panic, stress, sleepless nights, and writer’s cramps. I always say I’m too busy to write but I’m never too busy to meet friends for dinner or run through a few obstacles at the gym. Now, there will be no excuses. I’ll commit 30 days to coming up with 50,000 words, and at the end of the month I’ll actually have something to show for it.
My initial, naïve thought was to go into the thing blind. I thought I would just show up at my computer on November 1st and figure it out. Then I realized that’s a fool’s game. While scouring the internet for NaNo tips, one writer suggested coming up with a new scene for each day to keep the story moving forward. I decided that sounds much more realistic than just hoping for the best and not getting my main character, Eldon, from point A to point Z.
That became Step #1 on my NaNo to do list, which quickly led to more and more. OCD Ashlee loves making lists.
1. Plot 25 scenes.
My non-negotiable goal is to finish by November 25 before I head out of town to stay with family for Thanksgiving weekend. That means 2,000 words every day until November 25. After I’ve decided what the 25 scenes will cover (I’m up to 20 so far; go me), I’ll add in some sub-points so there is plenty of inspiration to fill 2,000 words. Amanda over at The Spark Collector recently posted about how she plots her novels. She inspired me to write everything out on note cards so I can hang them up above my desk. As I finish a scene, I’ll pull it off the wall so I can visually see the progress I’m making.
2. Find a few writing buddies to hold me accountable.
The NaNo website provides resources for the region you live in, along with others who are taking part, writing groups, etc., so I’m hoping to connect with a few WriMo’s through that site or with fellow bloggers who will remind me to not be a loser and to KEEP.WRITING.
3. Prepare and freeze extra meals.
Another WriMo suggests preparing and freezing meals so you don’t waste precious time cooking. I love that idea and will begin throwing together soups and pasta dishes in October to get me through November. I have a feeling my Crockpot and I will be taking our friendship to the next level that month, as well.
4. Establish a reward system.
Many, many writers suggest figuring out a reward system for yourself. Someone suggested treating yourself to a piece of chocolate after every 5,000 words, but I know myself well enough to know that the chocolates would be gone the first day. That system won’t work, but I need to think of something else to keep me motivated. I love to go to the gym or for walks and that is probably something that will need to go by the wayside in November to make room for writing time. If so, then my reward system might be stopping to do a quick yoga session in my living room or walking to the farm near my house to say hi to the animals after I’ve hit a milestone.
5. Watch Funny Farm.
This is an old, old movie so half of you probably haven’t heard of it. A couple moves to the country so the husband can work on his novel. He’s too distracted while living there to actually sit down and hammer it out. In the meantime, his wife writes a children’s book behind his back and gets it published. Brilliant story line. I’m hoping it’ll remind me to KEEP.WRITING.
6. Re-read In Dubious Battle.
This is my favorite John Steinbeck novel. I love the stark scenes he paints. I love the simple language he uses. I just love everything about him, and I want his writing style to influence my thoughts for the novel idea I’m kicking around.
7. Pre-write blog content for November.
I couldn’t leave my lovely readers high and dry in November while I crank out a sub-par novel that will never get published, so don’t fear – I’ll generate some life, faith, and tea topics prior to November 1st. I plan on providing weekly updates on my word counts and misery in November, too.
8. Lose my sanity.
Am I crazy to think I can do this? I’ve never written anything longer than a short story before. I am utterly unaware of how hard this is going to be. But I hate losing (even if it’s just to myself), and I’m hoping that will keep my fingers flying. I’ve already decided that if I’m stuck on a scene, then Eldon will have to suffer through some stream of conscious writing to get him through that day. As James Thurber said, “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” I originally imagined this idea as a short story, so I’ll be happy if 10,000 of the 50,000 words are salvageable.
And one more quote to send you home with: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. Somerset Maugham). I agree with him. I have no idea what they are, but my guess is Rule #1 is to sit down and write the dumb thing. So write I will.