November 29, 2015

Falling off the NaNoWriMo Wagon

This month, writers across the world are participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). The goal is 50,000 words of fiction in November, which amounts to around 3/4 of a typical length fiction novel. It's been something I had been saying I wanted to participate in for years, but I never pulled the trigger. There was always a good reason not to do it.

Too busy, too stressed, too whatever.

This year I decided enough was enough and I was going to try. I had a few ideas floating around for a mystery novel and even though I hadn't even had the creative oomph to write here on the blog for was time I stopped saying "someday".

So I wrote. And those words were exhausting, creatively and physically. But I wrote.

The first week or so I sat down to write everyday. Some days I managed barely 150 words and one magical day I hit 1000. The second week I got in a few days.

But then life hit me and...nothing. Not one word.

November was suddenly a survival mode month, and survival mode included multiple work events, solo parenting, teacher conferences and extended family health scares, but not my novel. Work was nuts, the kids were nuts, I was nuts.

Things have calmed down and I've had a few days to catch my breath, which has been lovely. I was reminded of the truth of this quote from Isak Dineson during a quick trip to the coast to meet up with family.  I got lots of dog and kid snuggle time. My husband and I hunkered down to watch the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings.

And somehow, I still felt like a mess.

Stepping back, I can see where I went wrong. Survival mode does not mean I get to give up self-care. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first after all. Writing was my oxygen mask during the first part of November, and giving it up did not make my life easier by having one less thing to do. It made it harder by never recharging my batteries.

This is a hard-won lesson for me, one I'm probably going to have to learn over and over again.

Last February, in the midst of polar vortex, Anne wrote a post called "What's Saving My Life Right Now", made up of the little things that got her through each day in the bleak midwinter. Her list included things like a daily park visit, an americano and Beverly Cleary. The always fabulous readers of Modern Mrs. Darcy responded in a link-up with their town lists. It's great reading now, as the days get shorter and long winter season looms. (Katie's post was one of my favorites at the time, and she returned to the theme over the course of this year as well.)

So what's saving my life right now? A return to writing for one. A little here on the blog, a little on the novel. Since I need a little accountability to keep me on track (I am an obliger, after all) I'm going to be here at least weekly, sharing something that is saving my life right now. A quick preview: cozy mysteries, a new hobby, twinkle lights, and of course, Tolkien.

I'd love to hear how you feed your soul when you are in survival mode-what is saving your life right now?

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