Winning at Writing


On a whim at the end of October I decided to actually participate in Nanowrimo. Back in the mid 2000s I gave it a half-hearted go and quit pretty early, enough that I didn’t even have any of it documented in my Nano account. I hadn’t logged in there in years and saw the last time I gave it a real whirl was in 2011, when I was writing my FT hiking memoir. I made it to something like 26K words, I believe, at that time. I accidentally deleted that after I logged in and tried to set up my new book. Oh well.

The only way I was going to make it work was by taking my laptop camping last week and writing in the evenings. I wrote every day in November except for this last Saturday (and well, yesterday and today because I won the thing on Sunday!) as we’d just arrived home from camping and I had a pile of chores to do and fitting in some writing wasn’t on my agenda. And on Sunday I even put it off most of the day because I was thick into chores and we got a Christmas tree and then groceries…but I stayed up late on Sunday and knocked out two thousand mostly terrible words, the last that I needed.

The secret to winning is really just dedicating the time to write the 1667 words you need daily, roughly about 45 minutes for me, and then stockpiling days where you write more so when you only write 500 words a day, you have a cushion. And not really researching unless it is something easy. My problem towards the end was that I really needed to research and it became harder to really move the story forward. But, I did it, I have 50K words and somewhere between 1/3 to a 1/2 of a book! I’m going to spend December revising what I already have and outlining for the rest of it and maybe sometime in the spring I’ll have a coherent story to pitch.

Writing is harder than painting or art for me because the time dedicated to it all. I can get a finished art piece in much less time, get the dopamine hit needed from it, and move on to something else. The problem is I’ve always wanted to write, to have something published like that, and there are many different stories and essays ticking around in my head. And I’m really still learning about writing. I can certainly appreciate the undertaking that professional writers or those who’ve had a creative writing habit for years deal with.

Moral of the story: make the time to do what you want to do. It’s so much easier to put it off but when you drop the unnecessary things (scrolling on your phone!) and just focus, you can get a lot done! This week is chaotic with the catch-up at work from time off, getting the house cleaned up, Christmas decorations out, and a few other things simmering on the back burner, (and a new Outlander book!), so the book is going to have a rest for a few days and then onward to editing!

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