NaNoWriMo 2019 Day -335 (Saturday Morning Musing)

I did it. I broke one hundred thousand words in a single month (since I wrote this post last night). I ended this post with a total of one hundred thousand eight hundred thirty-five words for the month and I am immensely proud of myself. I even bought a bottle of champagne–excuse me, sparkling wine–to pop as soon as I finished this post and, while I’m too cheap to buy good champagne, it was nice to just have something to pop at the end of the day. It tasted alright, too, but I can’t really tell the difference between various wines and I don’t really care that much about it so I’m cool with that.

It was nice to actually manage this goal, given how my month went. So much happened…  Honestly, I’m pretty curious about how much I could accomplish in a month if I didn’t have to spend a lot of it learning to cope with my grandfather’s mortality and the constant stress of trying to lead my team at work into a new process I developed. If I actually had energy when I got home from work… The thought of just how much I could get done is staggering. I’ve done an average of three thousand three hundred thirty-three words a day and yet my actual median is about five thousand. If I could do that every day, I could do fifty percent more words in a month, and that’s at my current pace with my current levels of energy. If I keep up this writing thing, I might be able to get even more written during a focused hour than my current record of two thousand words. If I get a better handle on my mental health, especially my anxiety and depression, I’ll have more energy and get even more done in a day. There’s always room for improvement and I’m excited to see how I continue to improve.

While I’m sure plenty of people write more than I do, even if I do get up to one hundred fifty thousand words a month, I’m not looking to compare to them. Personal accomplishments count more to me, anyway. I’d rather beat my own record than compete with someone else for the high score, in both video games and my personal life. I love a challenge, I love having a rival, but I’m more about support and helping each other achieve new heights rather than trying to out-do each other or trying to be top frog in the well. As much fun as it might be to say I’m the best, that’s not really what motivates me. Striving to be the best is a journey with an end. Striving to be better is a journey that can take you from the day you start to the day you die. I’m all about the long-term, really, in everything thing I do. Finances, career, self-improvement, romantic/platonic relationships… Everything. I’m good at predicting outcomes and I rely on that skill to guide me. Trying to always be better than myself only ever leads me forward and upward.

As much fun as this was, though, I’m really looking forward to a thirty to fifty thousand word month. I need some rest and the winter holidays are going to be stressful enough without trying to spend every second writing. I mean, I’m not going to stop myself from writing when I want to, but I’m not going to force it again. I need a break to rest my mind. Since your brain is like a muscle, in that it gets stronger the more you use it, it is just as important to give it a chance to rest after pushing yourself to new heights. So I’m going to let my brain rest and recover these next few weeks and then we’ll see just how much stronger it’s gotten as a result of this month by trying some new personal challenge. Or, you know, just adding a reasonable amount of book writing in addition to my blog writing. It doesn’t need to be another month of one hundred thousand words. I’ll probably just aim for a thousand extra words a day of book writing. That seems reasonable but also ambitious enough to keep me moving forward. I’ll probably aim for a total over a month rather than a daily limit so I can deal with busy days that don’t leave me room for writing without feeling stressed out about missing a thousand words.

Honestly, as much as I really want to outline my plans for the next year, I think I need to rest before I do that. It’s not even nine and my brain is already so fuzzy that I have to go back and read through sentences I just wrote to figure out what I’m trying to say as I write them. I’m also looking forward to sleeping in. And an end to stress headaches…

As much as I want to keep going, I think I’m going to call it here. It’s time to rest and, while I plan to continue to update my blog every day, I think I might take an entire day off of writing for the first time in several months. Just… play some video games or something. It’ll be nice. Thanks for taking this journey with me and I hope something I posted was of use to you. I also hope you’re continuing to write. It’s a pretty great feeling to see your words on the page or screen, so I hope you get to enjoy that for a while longer.

Today is day -335 of #NaNoWriMo2019 and I’m excited about next year already! Really, though, this is a Saturday Morning Musing post and I wrote 999,999 words last month so I’m gonna rest now. I’m so tired.

NaNoWriMo Day 20 (11/20)

Well, I certainly got a lot written last night. I wrote a little over a thousand words during the day leading up to Dungeons and Dragons (most of it happening right as D&D approached) but then blasted through almost three thousand in the hour and a half I wrote between the end of D&D and midnight. I was on fire. I had a few places I struggled to figure out what happened next, but I think those transitions from scene to scene will smooth out during editing. At this point, while I’m still behind, I’m a lot less behind than I was yesterday since I essentially made up for a day I skipped in the past and then a little more. I still have a long way to go, of course, but a good deal less than Friday.

I really hope I can keep this up. It’d be really nice if this was me finally getting back into the flow of writing now that I’ve been working at it every day for almost three weeks. That feels like a long time to be getting back into something, but good habits take a while to form, right? Maybe my persistence is finally paying off! Or maybe its all the caffeine I had today finally making itself useful for something other than allowing me to ignore how sleepy I feel. That’d be nice.

I’ve got a bit of a difficult week coming up here. First off, I’m super excited for my players to progress in the dungeon I created because plot, monsters, and lore are all in there somewhere and I really enjoy bringing all three of those things to my D&D sessions. Secondly, I’m going to try to see the Justice League movie with my roommates and I’m not entirely sure its even worth seeing on a $5 Tuesday at the local Marcus Theater. Especially since that’ll be time I can’t spend writing. I’ve also got to go pick up a key from my friend so I can check in on her cat while she’s out-of-town, figure out if my girlfriend and I will have time to see each other again before Thanksgiving, and then decide if I’m going to drive down to Chicago Thursday morning or Wednesday night. I’m leaning toward Thursday right now because I probably won’t do any writing Wednesday night if I drive down before writing. If I wait until Thursday, then I’ll only have to struggle through one night of writing (Thursday) since I’ll be home sometime Friday evening.

Then it’s the weekend again and who knows what interesting things will be happening then. Probably lots of them. I’ve had quite a few interesting weekends lately. Somewhat less productive, but definitely interesting. I’m more confident than ever that I’ll be able to catch up, though, so I’m alright with that.

Also, forget a new keyboard, I need a new computer chair. Mine has awkwardly placed armrests that cause me to hunch my shoulders and is constantly dropping downward, like some ghost was pulling the height-adjustment lever on me. Good job, ghost. Great joke. I’m now awkwardly sitting with my knees way up and the edge of my desk cutting into my wrists. Super cool.


Daily Prompt

Sometimes, the things we take the most pride in are small things, little victories that are meaningless to everyone else but prove to us the extent of some small ability we recognize within ourselves. They’re the kind of things that make your friends smile indulgently as you give them the play-by-play action report on something as small or seemingly insignificant as finding a way to get some extra burn time out of a candle or accurately predicting your arrival time. Today, show your character experiencing this kind of pride and the way that the people around them react in response to your character’s seemingly insignificant accomplishment.


Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is one of my favorite modern poets, Shel Silverstein. Almost all of his pictures make him look grumpy or kind of scary, but he wrote some wonderful children’s poetry that is not only fanciful, full of delightful imagery and actual images–he was also a cartoonist–but is also incredibly clever and more nuanced than a lot of other modern poetry I’ve read. There are layers upon layers to what he writes, shadows of bigger meanings that never fully materialize, and little hints of some deep meaning hidden behind the bright images and neatly composed words. He’s the kind of poet most people will either love or hate depending on what you take away from his poems. If you want to enjoy some particularly arranged words that often feel light and fluffy until you really think about them, I highly recommend starting with his book (my favorite) Where the Sidewalk Ends.


Helpful Tips

While it can be super scary, it is super helpful to get an outside perspective on your writing. If you have a friend who is willing and has the time to keep up, having an alpha reader (or several) can help you figure out the direction of your story and maybe come up with some new scenes to better develop your characters. Sure, you can get a lot of this just by talking to someone about your story, but it is a lot easier for them to provide feedback and a lot easier for you to explain what’s going on or what you’re looking for if they’ve already read everything you’ve written.

Outside of National Novel Writing Month, I would almost say its a requirement of anyone who wants to write something that people will enjoy reading. I’ve tried both methods: writing entirely in a void and writing with regular feedback or someone you can question about particular scenes you’ve written. Writing in a void was super productive. I wrote more and faster than I’d ever done in a similar amount of time. However, it was very clear that the quality of the writing was much lower and I eventually learned that I’d made a choice early on that made it difficult for some people to actually enjoy the story. With regular feedback, it takes more time to write the same amount and it can be hard to wrangle my alpha readers sometimes,  but the quality is drastically higher and it is easier for me to experiment when I’m getting more immediate feedback.

I can’t honestly say this will be true for anyone, but I do know that most of the people I’ve worked with have been way more productive when they have a supportive environment, regular feedback, and people who express a genuine interest in what they’re creating. It sure feels nice when people care, doesn’t it?