Write in the Now: NaNoWriMo 2019 Week One Check In

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing, with writers around the world diving into their novel or rebel projects. Words are spattering themselves upon page like rain — either in drizzles or downpours. Plotlines are taking root. Characters are waking up and blossoming into shape. Scenes are growing lush and vibrant.

At least, that’s the blessing I send out to all my fellow writers this month.

When I announced my intentions to partake in NaNoWriMo this year, one of the main methods of preparation was to eliminate all future considerations — all the little thoughts of what this new novel might be or become. In my first four days of working on the project, I have managed to get ahead of my daily goals, reaching just over 8,500 words. Along the way, it has been interesting to observe the little games my mind started playing, jumping past the present to future possibilities. Each time, I had to rein those thoughts in and find a way to keep writing.

Brain Game One: Future Success — The first day of working on my new novel was incredibly successful, which was a surprise and a delight. It had been a long time since I had such a smooth writing day, and I was proud of the words I wrote and the direction the story was taking. My brain, noticing me reveling in the pleasure of my success, immediately began jumping ahead. THIS would be the novel, this will be the one to achieve an agent and a publisher, oodles of money and awards, and —

Knock it off, I told myself. None of that matters right now. All that matters is here in the story. Who is this person you’re writing? What comes next? Stick to writing in the now.

Brain Game Two: Future Editing — As I continued on the second day, I found myself discovering the characters and what would happen to them through the act of writing. I allowed details and traits and events to evolve throughout a scene, allowing contradictions to take place and letting them lie, knowing I could come back and visit it later. My brain, however, would not let it be, insisting on telling me all the ways the previous passages would need to be fixed and fixed immediately.

Story Idea vs draft meme

Thank you, I told myself. But let’s worry about those things at another time. We’re focusing on the first draft. Let’s write in the now.

Brain Game Three: Future Failure — The process of writing is always shifting and not every day will flow smoothly. It was inevitable that self doubt would make its appearance, and it did on the third day. My brain fell right into lock-step, questioning whether these words would be good enough or whether this would just be another novel to sit languid in a drawer, ever unfinished.

Hush, I told myself. Everything’s okay. It’s a draft. It doesn’t have to be good enough. Just keep going, stick with the story and see where it leads. Write in the now.

. . .

As the month continues, I’ll have to face thoughts like this over and over again. It’s a continual process of pulling myself back to the present moment, taking a deep breath, and writing from where I’m at in the her and now. For the moment, I’m just enjoying the act of writing — which is exactly what I was hoping to get out of my NaNo experience this year.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or working on any kind of creative projects this month, let me know how you’re doing. Do you find yourself fighting future thoughts? How do you deal with such thoughts and keep moving forward?

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Note: This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my (semi)-monthly newsletter on the writing life and things that are interesting to writers. If you enjoyed reading this, please check out the archives and/or subscribe:

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Taking a Break from Perfection: Jumping On the NaNoWriMo Bandwagon — and How to Prepare

I’m a long-time fan of the National Novel Writing Month (belatedly called NaNoWriMo) challenge to complete 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. (If you want to know more about it, a recent episode of Annotated looks at the history of the NaNo challenge and why people dig it.)

I’m not entirely sure when I first starting taking part — probably around twelve or so years ago (way back in my LiveJournal days). I was immediately drawn in to the sense of camaraderie inherent in the challenge and often attended local write-ins, where I was able to sit down with a dozen other writers at a coffee shop and share in the experience of putting words on the page.

Some of the years, I completed the challenge, and some of the years I didn’t. Either way I always enjoyed the experience — regardless of whether I churned out anything editable or not.

It’s been several years since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (the last one being in 2014), and I’ve finally decided that it’s time I jumped back on the bandwagon.

Continue reading “Taking a Break from Perfection: Jumping On the NaNoWriMo Bandwagon — and How to Prepare”