I’m on Day 11 of my writing challenge. Instead of writing 31 blog posts, I’ve spent the last few days adding 500 more words every night to the rough, messy first draft of my book. I’m working on getting over the idea that it needs to be perfect in order to be written, that I have to have the plot, structure, story arch, characters, geography, etc. all figured out before I start writing. According to great writers, I don’t. Which is strange. It’s like walking somewhere with out really knowing where you’re going or how to get there. A map would help. But either way, you definitely want to walk. It’s good for you. You have to just get started.
This 31 day challenge has been awesome. Here’s how I’m kicking ass and making it happen:
Luckily, writing or knowing what to write isn’t the challenging part for me. I could do this all day. I could write until my fingers were numb, and my husband would have to force me to stop and remind me to eat, and that I have kids.
I made a garret for myself (less of an attic and more like a small corner desk space in my husband’s studio in the basement of our house). I marked my territory. It garishly reeks of me. I tricked it out with rainbows and sparkles, polka dot pencils, pink flowers, vibrant sticky notes and notecards, gold and silver shiny things (lamps, push pins, candles), inspiring quotes, complete with a plethora of exotic hot teas at my disposal. This is where the magic is gonna happen, folks.
I gave up wearing make up everyday. Well, sort of. The toughest part of this challenge so far has been finding time to write. Making it a priority is difficult, when there are so many other priorities scrambling and scratching at each other to be at the top of my list. Between my very extroverted 4 year old’s endless curious questions, and my wiggly 2 year old’s need for me to not sit down for more than 10 seconds at a time, it’s a bit of a struggle. But not impossible. Something has to be sacrificed. And for the record, I don’t spend hours putting on makeup.. it’s just one more thing that’s not making the cut on my priority list (Ask any mom with an infant about her non-existent makeup routine. Not. Even. Worth. It. It is more of a luxury at this point.) Along with going to bed early, and showering every day. You know, things I can do when I’m dead.
I write from 8-9pm. It’s my writing sweet spot, for now. Unfortunately, it’s not when I’m at my most creative; it’s more like when I’m just finished giving all I have for the day and need to zone out. So eventually, I’d like the time to change. However, I like having the time blocked out, so if I don’t get to it during the day, at least I can dedicate an hour to it later and not feel overburdened.
I added a fourth day of school for my lil ones. The oldest will be starting Kindergarten in the fall, and I figure now is as good a time as any to start adjusting to five days a week. I’m still struggling with this decision, but I am totally giving myself permission to revoke it if it doesn’t feel right. It gives me more consistent time to recover from the hectic weekends (where I try to take “off” as much as possible) and time to write!
I’ve been researching the hell outta how to write a book. It could be as easy as just sitting down and writing everyday, and it could be as difficult as planning, outlining, researching, interviewing, learning, getting more education, etc. I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and absorbing any knowledge from reputable authors and publishers that I can. I’ve developed new habits: scouring books at the bookstore, noticing author’s names and their publishers, and reading the synopsis on the back of the books, praying none of them will be similar to mine. I’m reading, and reading, and reading, hoping that new ideas will jump off the pages and that I can steal them and twist them till their unrecognizable. I’m noticing the way authors describe their location, or their main character, or battle scenes. I’m having a blast, and while I wish I had done it earlier in life, I realize that I’m at a better (different?) place now.
I started a book club… with strangers. And it’s a blast. I know, I’m one wild introvert. I’ll get to writing about my extroverted introvert-y-ness (‘cause who isn’t writing about that crap these days?) and my addiction to trying new things… but I digress. I’m gettin’ down with my sci-fi/fantasy nerd side and sharing it with others. And it’s so fun. And uncomfortable at times. But fun. I don’t think I could have such an in-depth conversation with an attorney about Frank Hubert’s classic science fiction book, Dune, in any other circumstance. Not at a play date, or ladies book club, or dinner out with friends. I’m loving that this is my thing right now and I’m letting my freak flag fly.
I have a ba-freakin’-jillion blank notebooks that I’ve collected and continue to collect like a hoarder. As if they’re suddenly going to stop being made like cassette tapes. I carry one with me everywhere now in case A) I get a sudden idea for my book or something I want to pontificate on. Or, B) I’m feeling strongly or emotional about something, so I’ll write. And it helps me get it out of my head (where I live like, 90% of the time ‘cause it’s fun there) and organize what I’m feeling or experiencing. Mostly I use the Notes app on my iPhone, because it’s quick, and I like how it’s right there on my laptop the next time I open it.
I remind myself why I’m doing this. For me. Not for you, dear reader (though I think of you fondly), not for money or fame, but for little ol’ me. To find my voice, and to feel all the alive tingles doing something that brings me joy.
Day 11: 1,065 words down. 8,772 words to go. (But really, 20 days to go.)