Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Balance

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Here, in the crazy beginning week of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to get swept away with reaching that all-important word count. I posted yesterday about the benefits of coloring to highlight the importance of balance. I’ve read some participants’ accounts of frustration, disappointment, and pushing away children and spouses in order to write that novel by the end of the month. The thing is, NaNoWriMo simply isn’t a good idea for some people. Some of us don’t work well under that sort of pressure. Furthermore, some aren’t wired in the manner necessary to produce the sheer quantity required to complete that kind of a task. I’m known for my (mostly) clean first drafts. The way most of my writing is published is very close to the way it comes out. I’m not saying I’m a superior writer, though. I’m saying that most of the editing and revision process happens inside my head, before I even begin to write. For me, the emphasis–each time I write–is quality.

Michael Grab is a stone balancing artist. He does some truly amazing sculptures. His method of rock balancing is a good metaphor for my writing process. Before he places a rock, he studies it carefully. He says, “The fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of ‘tripod’ for the rock to stand on… By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters.”

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He moves on to a discussion of the mind in balance. “Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.” (Lisa Be, Life Buzz.com) So, it’s important to take care of yourself: mind, body, and soul.

In terms of NaNoWriMo, find what works for you. As some wise person once said, “It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn something from the experience.” NaNoWriMo isn’t going to work for me. I decided to take the first week to totally revise my YA novel, Children in the House of Vengeance, taking some valuable feedback I’ve gained from a few rejections and putting them into action. You see, to date 3 agents have requested the full manuscript, and 3 agents have rejected the full manuscript. This tells me I need to re-evaluate it. I’m still writing something each day, but it might be a new portion of that book or a blog post, a few pages of my new long project, a poem, a guest article for someone else’s blog, or my Awkward in the Midwest column over at Easy Street Magazine. As long as I’m working, I’m happy.

So, if you’re like me and you’ve already decided NaNoWriMo isn’t for you, give me a shout! It’s a lonely world out there in the digi-sphere right now. Everyone is busy crunching through those word counts. Or, if you are continuing on the path to write your entire novel this month, tell me about it. Let me know that you’re still alive!OogwayPoTalk

The important thing is to find BALANCE in your life–including the part of you that is a writer. Take care of your health. Take care of your heart. Take time to laugh. And cry. And talk to other people. Most important of all: Be present in your life. Because, as Master Oogway says to Po in Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”

What Every Writer is Talking About

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NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareNaNoWriMo 2015

Today is November 1st–day one of NaNoWriMo. The goal: write an entire novel in 30 days. This is the first year I will be participating in the madness. If you want to join the fun, you can just do it or go to the National Novel Writing Month website and sign up. At this site, you can track your progress, get support, and meet other writers. Either way, come back here and let me know how it’s going. We can encourage each other along the way!

Let the games begin! And may the odds be ever in your favor!


If this is your first attempt at writing a novel, here are a few resources to help you get started:

10 Simple Habits to Help You Write Your First Book (Life Hacks): Simple tasks to put your writing potential in action.

How to Write Your First Book (BuzzFeed): 21 successful writers share their stories about overcoming writer’s block, completing, and selling their first books.

How to Start Writing a Book, 1st Chapter (Writer’s Digest): A sampling of advice, tips, and guidelines to inspire your “first steps from blank page to finished piece.”

Track Your Progress, Celebrate Your Successes

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Thanks to the Writer’s Digest Platform Challenge, I’ve kept track of this month’s activities on a calendar. I start out with the week’s goals in red and as I complete each task, I change it to black and move it to the day the task is completed. This way, I can look back on everything I’ve accomplished, and still keep my upcoming deadlines in mind. So, when I have one of those days where coffee just isn’t helping me focus, I have something to provide a clear path for what I should be doing.

It’s simple. In Microsoft Word, I create a table with 7 columns–one for each day. Here’s an Example Calendar to show, rather than tell you what I mean.


It’s also important to celebrate your successes!calyx

This year, my poem “Mourning List” appeared in the same issue of Calyx as the memorial to Margarita Donnelly, founding editor of the beautiful publication. Margarita Donnelly died Christmas Eve 2014, the very same day as a good friend of mine, Sarah Edwards McFarland, who I’d known since 4th grade. The title and subject matter of my poem was appropriate, though when I wrote it, I had no idea Sarah or Margarita were going to pass on. I wish I would have known. I wish I could say goodbye to Sarah, or thank Margarita for building such a wonderful home for women to place their works of art.

Sadly, we cannot time travel. (Yet.) So, forget the rejections. Draw from them whatever constructive criticism they offer, then press that lovely delete button. Life’s too short to dwell on your failures. And, if you haven’t had any publications yet, tomorrow is a new day.

In fact, tomorrow is November 1st and… NaNoWriMo BEGINS! So, let’s get to work. And WHEN–not if–you have a publication or acceptance from an agent, come here and let me know. I’ll feature your good news in a pretty post dedicated to your successes and we’ll all celebrate together!