Writing, Writing, and More Writing

November 1st.

Intrepid dreamers all around the world begin their journeys into NaNoWriMo–the attempt to write a 50,000 page novel by November 30th.

I’m not one of them. I wrote last year about why I don’t think National Novel Writing Month is for me. I still don’t think it would work for me, however I am determined to finish my current novel project by the end of November. Over the past week I’ve written over 10,000 words in what will be a novel running somewhere between 60 and 80,000 words. I know, that’s a big difference, but I won’t know until I get to the end that I have reached the end. The story is creating itself. As of now I am over 30,000 words in. (The official count is on my personal computer. I’m writing during my office hours since nobody has come to see me).

While I work well under the pressure of a deadline, I don’t work well under the pressure of pressure. Words, or any creative act, seem to have a cycle with me. They flow like a tidal wave, then turn into a drought, only to return again with the speed of Sandy. As frustrating as those periods of drought can be, I know that I need the fallow time to replenish and let ideas rest for a while until they are ready to burst forth.

Once I break through and the deluge of words begins, it seems to feed on itself. (I know, I’m using a lot of mixed metaphors right now. I struggled with insomnia last night and so my words insist on following their own random path. This too is a symptom of the flood). Since the words started flowing on my novel I’ve written more blog posts than I have for a long time. I’ve also applied for jobs, answered e-mails, graded papers and made comments–words pouring out of my system.

By putting words out there, the universe is answering. Yesterday I was asked to contribute a feature article for the spring edition of a popular magazine about Theatre for Young Audiences. Although the deadline for me to accomplish this task is short (I think they asked me late) I’m really excited about this opportunity. I’ve been asked to “talk about sex”; as in look at how romance and sex is discussed or portrayed in theatre for young audiences. Sexy topic, don’t you think?

[Any TYA folks who might read this, if you have something to say or know of someone who would be a good resource please let me know.]

In addition to that, we’ve finally gotten some funding to do a project promoting literacy to Latino elementary school students using drama, so I need to write up some planning material for that.

The whole point is that I’ve finally found my rhythm when it comes to writing and/or other creative projects. I can’t force it. I can’t create imaginary deadlines like NaNoWriMo. I have to follow my natural (although perhaps slightly psychotic) rhythms of manic production followed by passive reflection. If I fight it, I struggle.

At the moment, I’m not fighting. I’m simply writing, writing, and writing.

What works best for you?

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo participants. I’ll see you on the other side!

No to NaNoWriMo but Yes to Writing More

As you know, this is National Novel Writing Month fondly called NaNoWriMo, and many people have begun the journey to writing a 50,000 world novel in a month.

Kudos to them!

As the beginning of November approached, I had a debate with myself about joining. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

I recognize the advantages of joining NaNoWriMo: the community, the inspiration, the support group, etc. But, when I really thought about it, I felt an overwhelming sense of pressure at the thought of joining. Why? Here are some of my thoughts:

  • I know I can write a novel. I’ve done it. Just because that novel has yet to be published doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  • I know I have other books inside me, but trying to force them out has made me depressed and frustrated. I can’t force myself to create, I create when I have something to say.
  • When I find a story, I write quickly. Thousands of words pour out of me in a short time period, so the time limit of a month has little meaning anyway. If I have a story to tell, I will tell it.
  • Writing quickly does not necessarily mean writing well. I know, the concept behind this is to just get a draft done, and then you can enter the editing process, but every writer has  a different process so I’m not sure that would completely work for me. (I often alternate between writing and editing, reviewing past work before I continue forward).
  • I am already putting too much pressure on myself to accomplish, and I’m struggling a lot with my own pressure. NaNoWriMo seems like it will just add to the mix.

For those of you who have joined this challenge, I think it is wonderful. I look forward to reading your stories and learning about your adventures throughout the month.

I just needed to make a different choice. For a while I thought perhaps I was just making another excuse, another reason to say “I want to be a writer,” rather than “I am a writer.”

Then I looked at what I have written since Nov 1 (even with a power outage and other issues)  and I realized, I am writing. I wrote:

I have written hundreds, if not thousands of words a day. So, while I may not (or maybe I will) have a novel to show for it at the end of November, I will still be able to say “I am a writer.”

That has to be enough.

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo writers! And good luck to the rest of us as well.

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