Here are some things I've learned through National Novel Progress Month:
I have less time to write blogposts.I seem to be able to do either intense blogging or intense editing, but not both. I'd hoped to do more of a play-by-play as I was going through NaNoProgMo, but all my free time is going toward editing instead. Well, that's as it is.
I don't need to edit two hours a day.What Zoie of TouchstoneZ wrote in a comment really resonated with me. I'll quote her here, if I may:
Okay, I'm very happy to see we're all behind. Setting the bar high and happy with how we balance it! I love L'Engle's quote about putting two things first. YES! I've learned this month that I do not want to blog every day and I'll be glad when NaBloPoMo is over. And I abhor editing every day, which is partially what I'm doing with the book. But, I must haveto needto write every day. I'm driven to do it and I'm incomplete without it.
I have yet to figure out the balance of writing and the rest of life. I'm failing at it on purpose this month.
Part of this month's experiment has been to go completely off-balance-to dive into my writing so hard that I can never look back and regret not giving myself enough license or time to write. I can point to this month and see what it really is like. And I can know that I'm not happy this way either. There are days when I wish I were choosing something else. It's a huge lesson and if I learn nothing else, it will have been worth it.
I'm realizing that editing two hours a day is more than I need to — if only I hadn't procrastinated the rest of the year (or more). In other words, I could get by and get a novel done rather speedily (on my terms) by editing only 15 minutes a day, as long as I consistently did so. And it would be nice to do things other than edit, such as write blog posts. Which brings me to my next point:
I can enjoy intensively entering into the world of my novel.Since I do procrastinate the rest of the year, it's important for me to have one month at least where I say, "This is what I am doing this month. All else can go to perdition." I like entering it fully, and I find it easier to keep track of threads of my story when I'm editing for an extended time each day for an intensive month rather than catch as catch can, with long breaks between each session. I love during this time feeling like a writer. But…
At some point, I feel unbalanced if I enter too headlong into novel writing.I think of my novel all day. Ideas and fragments come into my head. It's hard for me to shake it off when I'm talking to other people, so real does my own story seem to me. I feel like a writer, but kind of like a jerk, too.
On a more pragmatic, novel-centered level:
I did not write any description before now.During NaNoWriMo, it was write-write-write, don't stop to think. So I wrote the story. Now I'm having to go back and figure out what people look like and write all that down! I feel a little silly shoehorning all that description in, but it needs something.
And on an am-I-a-real-writer? level:
I'm scared of failure.One thing I don't allow myself to do (much) during NaNoWriMo is fool around by daydreaming about submitting to agents — no goofing off for hours each day making tiered lists of whom to submit to, drafting query letters, researching advances for first novels, etc. (No, I only allowed myself to do that about a single hour a day during NaNoWriMo, ha.) Now that I'm actually in "editing" territory, I'm allowing myself to dream, plan, research, and get pragmatic like that. And I found something out: I'm terrified. I was looking up agents and reading about novel synopses and how to format email queries, and I started physically shaking. Up till now, it's been a lark. I can imagine I'm a good writer, that my novel is publishable, that there are an agent and editor out there waiting for me. Once I start submitting and the rejections roll in? Then it's real, and it will be hard. I didn't realize how much I was holding myself back out of fear.
And that's what I've learned so far from NaNoProgMo.
So: We still have 10 days left, which means one-third of our time! So we are officially two-thirds through — woot!
The goodish news is I am halfway through my pledged time. I think that means I can maybe catch up.
Even if you're not caught up, or you have no intention of doing so, or you're just starting, the point is to keep on keeping on. Let me know if there's any way I can encourage you.
Teresa is generously offering all our participants (all! of! you!) a sweet surprise writerly gift. Stop by the post she wrote and send her your address so she can mail it to you.
How's your progress? What have you learned so far in the successes, the failures, the progressing and halting of this month?