The month of May saw the Edmonton NaNoWriMo group and I participating in a fun challenge, could we pen 250 words/day on our manuscripts? It was great practice for the upcoming NaNoWriMo challenge in November, and given everything else going on in the world, a welcome external reason to ignore reality and delve into a world of my imagination.
Coming out of the challenge, here are my takeaways.
- For me, writing can feel like running a marathon in blazing hot weather, on a path full of trip wire and pot holes, and having unknown forces chuck water balloons at me from their hidden spots in the trees. Writing is hard and lonely and a grind. Surrounding myself with other people who were consciously setting aside time to write was a wonderful encouragement. When it comes to starting and completing writing projects, for me, being in a network of like-minded individuals is an incentive and a source of energy.
- It’s not always possible to write every day (at least for me). By writing, I mean putting words down on a work in progress. Somedays were devoted to edits, some to allergies, some to the unexpected occurrences of everyday life. However, I found that knowing I had words to write kept a part of my brain processing my story. While I may not always have been able to put down words, I found them waiting for me when I returned to the project.
- The act of creation is more than writing. It’s keeping a space inside myself that’s dedicated to my story and not allowing anything other than the story to inhabit that area.
- It was okay to step back for moments of self-care. Yes, writing is about consistency and accepting the grind. But it’s also about being kind to myself in the moments I needed it. Writing, to me, should feel like a challenge. It should feel like the pleasant burn of my muscles stretching and strengthening. It should never feel like a punishment.
- Because I knew there would be days I couldn’t write, on the days that I could, I did my best to go beyond the 250 words. I banked the extra, depositing them in my mental bank account for future withdrawal. Not only was it helpful in terms of riding the momentum, but it also took away the guilt on the days that self-care was a priority.
- Sometimes, a lot of times, the writing wasn’t pleasant, both in execution and the words that fell to the page. I had to remind myself that sometimes I have to write the wrong thing to get to the right words. Like they said, “You can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank page.”