6 Things I Learned - NaNoWriMo Day 1

I decided to give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) another shot this year. Last year I failed terribly. I don't think I even started. I mean, I logged in and created an account, but in terms of the actual writing part, I failed. Miserably. And I'm ok with that.

This year I decided to try something different, outside of my comfort zone and started out by participating in the PDX/Vancouver NaNoWriMo Midnight Write-In at PDX Airport. 

I learned some things writing for 3 hours last night, or upon reflection since, such as:

  1. The writing, for me, is the easy part. The challenge is the plot, the structure, the characters, the story arc and all those other little integral parts of the plot development. The scene flow and movement and dialogue is relatively easy. I can see scenes and hear dialogue, but tying it all together into cohesiveness, I imagine, is going to be my challenge, and it's kind of a big one.
  2. I need to hang out with writers more. I used to do this more when working in newsrooms in college and afterward, but haven't really too much in the past 15 years or so. This means, for me, I need to do a few things - join & participate in some writer/author Meetups as well as attending more author readings. It would have been a different experience completely if I'd have known some of the folks there last night.
  3. I really needed to spend more time planning. While I had a list of some 15+ book ideas, what I really needed to do before Midnight November 1st, was to spend some time focusing in on which one I was going to write, what the story arc and plot line looked like. Instead, I sat down and wrote 1,000 words on two different stories. This morning, I'm considering abandoning them both and starting with a different one.
  4. I can't stay up late anymore. During college (and for many years after, really) I was a night owl. I stayed up late and thought if I drank like Hemmingway or HST, I'd create literary elegance or poetic prose. This wasn't the case. These days, I'm up early and find that my most focused, creative times are mid-morning. By about 8:00 at night, I'm spent and my brain is toast. A midnight - 02:30 write in doesn't really fit my brain patterns or circadian rhythm. Add to the struggle, I drank some coffee too late and that didn't really help either.
  5. I'm super distractable. There was somebody there hammering away on a typewriter, which is cool, but it made it hard for me to focus. Then I put in earbuds. Then I missed the raffle. And it was all OK, I just recognized all of it going on
  6. I've accepted that I'm OK if it's garbage. As I was writing, I found myself thinking about whether the words coming out would be any good or not. Was I using too many run-on and difficult to read sentences? Why do I tend to write in the passive tense even though I hate it when I read it? (sidenote, I think it's laziness) I then realized that this didn't matter. What it only really did was allow resistance to enter into my consciousness as a deterrent to being fully focused on the only important task at hand - the writing.

So that's all I'm going to do. I going to write. And write. And write. I'm going to write every day even if I don't want to. Even if I'm too busy, too tired, too whatever. I'm just going to write.

You fail only if you quit writing,
— Ray Bradbury

So that's it. That's going to be my mentality. I've accepted that it could be garbage, and am alright with that. I've accepted it for what it is, thus removing that fear and struggle from the process. The simple joy and experience of writing will be the only aim. It's a warm up. It's a practice round. It's pre-season.

Learning is in the experience and the trying. The result, even if it's never read or seen by anyone, will become whatever it becomes. My primary focus will be on the words, one after another.

 Steven Pressfield quote from The War of Art

Steven Pressfield quote from The War of Art

If this is the only thing I learn from this process, it'll be well worth it...but I'm assuming I'll learn much more.

Grace & peace,