This has stuck with me. I might not be properly transcribing the words and tone intended, but this is how it's reverberated in my brain. Applied toward other people, it might come off as a bit harsh, but applied to myself: It's so, so true.
For years, I said, I want to write a novel…someday. When the stars aligned. When I had oodles of free time. When an editor called out of the blue and gave me a contract and an advance, work unseen.
I talked about writing a novel. I wrote plot notes. I brainstormed character names and traits with friends. I subscribed to Writer's Digest
for years and absorbed all the articles. I checked Writer's Market out of the library, repeatedly. I even took a leisurely nine months while Sam concentrated on earning money to try my hand at being a professional novel writer. I did not complete a novel in that time, not even a first draft.
One year, I heard about National Novel Writing Month from a friend's Facebook status update. It was already several days into November, but I was intrigued. Could I do it? I'd give it a shot.
I was cautious about sharing what I was doing. I told people, but not too much. I was afraid to jinx it.
In some ways, this was the worst time to try, finally, to write a novel. I had a young baby and a home business I was heavily involved in and a blog to keep up.
But I wrote that novel, my first to be completed. I stopped talking, and I did it.
In some ways, I feel guilty that I haven't written much about my NaNoProgMo-ing as I've gone through it. In other ways, it feels completely natural now to hold off on bragging about progress until I'm sure I'll make good on my promise. I'm 2 hours from the end of my goal on this last day, so barring major malfunctions (pray not), I'm confident I'll complete my 60-hour editing goal for November. It wasn't glamorous, but every day I sat at my computer, and I did it. I put in my time, and I made progress.
I'm still not done with either project (I'm waiting on a second read-through from Sam of my mystery novel, which incidentally is that first NaNoWriMo one), and I have lots to do still as editor of the NPN cloth diapering book. But I'm feeling more confident that I can continue to do instead of just promise to do.
So, wherever you are in your progress today, I encourage you to figure out what you want — what you really, really want, right now — and do it. One foot in front of the other, in as little or as much time as you can commit, make tangible progress toward your goal. It might be writing a novel. It might be querying magazines, or ramping up your blog. It might be unrelated to writing: pursuing a new relationship, or calling your parents more, or cleaning out the garage, or learning to run.
Today I would like to welcome Dionna from Code Name: Mama, who has written a guest post about taking a rest from your blog while keeping up your readership.
Lauren's note: When I was expecting Alrik, I was brainstorming ways to continue my blog for the sake of my readers and my advertisers while taking a highly valued babymoon. Now Dionna's in the same boat! For you it might be a vacation or family trip or just some needed time to disconnect from the screen. These are Dionna's ideas for stepping away from the blog but keeping up a basic amount of posting.
New babies, vacations, outside obligations, blogging burn-out. All bloggers need a break sometimes — it can even be healthy to plan a regular break into your annual blogging schedule. If you're worried about losing readers and subscribers during your absence, here are some tips that might help ease your mind.
1. Republish your own guest posts.Have you had guest posts published at other sites? Run those! Unless you made a deal to the contrary, you still retain the copyright. Just be sure to check the other site's guest post policy to make sure you're within its exclusivity terms.1 Include a note that it's been republished from a post previously seen on the host blog, with the appropriate link.
2. Repost old posts.Readership changes from month to month, year to year. If you've been blogging awhile, surely there are old posts you can rerun. If you republish posts from when you were a beginning blogger with less of a following, you may be pleasantly surprised by the increased response to old posts. Include a note again mentioning that it's been republished (and possibly edited) for any hardcore archive delvers among your readers.
3. Book guest posters who will promote their own posts.If you're going to be AWOL from your blog, you'll likely also be taking a hiatus from social media. Call on guest posters you trust to promote their own posts on their blog, Twitter, and Facebook and to respond to commenters. Don't hesitate to tell them that part of the deal is they need to interact, since you'll be taking a break.
4. Skip regularly scheduled posts.Do you have a habitual post you put up every week (Wordless Wednesday, recipes on Friday, Sunday Surf)? Skip it, and don't feel guilty AT ALL.
5. Schedule some quick shots.Try to schedule a few posts ahead, but don't make them be ambitious. There's something to be said for short, 1-2 paragraph posts — think of them as the blogging equivalent to a witty or insightful status update.
6. Warn your readers.Let your readers know in advance you will be taking a break. Turn it into a post asking for guest posters! Your readers will understand, and they will welcome you back when you return.
Dionna is a lawyer turned work-at-home mama of an amazing son and an incredible new daughter. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting, consensual living, eclectic learning, and compassionate advocacy.
1 For example, here is the guest post "exclusivity" policy for Natural Parents Network: "While contributors to Natural Parents Network maintain the copyright to all their work, we ask that you not post your submission anywhere else (including your own blog) whether paid or unpaid, for 90 days after publication on Natural Parents Network. This exclusivity adds value for our readers without our asking you to give us copyright on your work. Similarly, we will wait 90 days to republish any previously published article."↩
I often will follow blogging tutorials or use writing resources and then later struggle to remember just where or just what it all was. This is my new attempt at keeping them all cataloged, and searchable by tags.
And here I will disseminate them for you, so far. You might be able to guess the themes of this week's research: securing my passwords and backing up my email, writing a novel synopsis for NaNoProgMo, and, well, figuring out Tumblr!
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:
Today I bring you an inspirational guest post from Teresa from Write On, Mom! / Mom Grooves who encourages all us NaNoProgMos to keep on keeping on.
Okay! Time to get serious here. I have barely completed three days of my goal for the past 14 days. The good news is that there are still TWO full weeks left in this wonderful month.
I want to encourage everyone participating with us for NaNoProgMo (or anyone who wants to start now!) to pick up your proverbial pen and finish the month writing. It doesn't matter what you've done or have not done so far. I doubt anyone can be as far behind as I am, so let's bring up the rear together!
I also want to send each of you who are NaNoProgMo-ing a little gift. I don't want to wait until the end of the month. I believe in rewarding artists for the process. So, send me your address and your gift will be in the mail. I'd love for you to have it while there's still at least a week left. Even if you just join up now or if you haven't completed a minute of your goal yet, send me your address and get in on this. Send info to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is about Progress, after all. There is no finish line necessary, no word count to define success or failure. Just progress (which I, personally, will re-define to accomodate exactly as far as I get.)
I do still want to get somewhere.
I could list some pretty fancy "reasons" why I haven't been writing every day. Extremely valid. Extraordinarily compelling. Yes, I have reasons not to write. But I also have one simple, vital reason to write. I'm a writer. It's stamped on my ticket to this incarnation. Writer. Whatever else I might be or do will not change that. It is a "Prime Directive" for my soul.
Honestly, I'm afraid to start. I'm afraid to try and get into it. There's no time. I have no brain anymore. I'm so foggy. Why didn't I write before I had a child?!!!!
Today I will read what I have written so far. Just read it and find my way back into the rhythms of this particular story. There's already a vibration all its own that exists in the pages I have. Every word I write, every chapter, every character I snatch from the ethers and bring into existence creates this almost unbearable joy in me. Sometimes I start and get so excited I have to get up and walk around. Then I tend to eat, probably to try and ground myself. But after that I usually get tired and just stop.
Two weeks left and I will resist the urge to increase my daily goal to 2 hours just to catch up. I'm still aiming for an hour a day.
I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes and anecdotes from For Writers Only by Sophy Burnham (the book that has been in every bathroom I've had for the past 15 years.)
I believe it was Kelly of KellyNaturally.com who first clued me in to changing the descriptive text, and she's actually someone I've been talking with recently about frustrating Facebook changes that have restricted our customizations. That said, I hope most or some of the following still work for you (or will in the future)!
When you paste or type a link into the status box, Facebook will try to pull up a title, URL, description, and thumbnail for you. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes this is a big bucket of fail.
Randomly, Facebook used to pull the post description from my first comment. I believe this is some weird Blogger–Facebook glitch. It was not ideal.
Since adding my meta keywords and blog description, Facebook now draws from that — in this case, A blog about natural parenting — which is marginally preferable though still off.
But I can change it to be what I want.
Hover your mouse over the description, and you'll see it highlights.
Click it, and now it's editable.
What I can't figure out is … what should my new URL be?
If you're unfamiliar with usernames for pages, it's the little tag after http://www.facebook.com/ — so, for instance, my Hobo Mama page is http://www.facebook.com/HoboMamaBlog, whereas my Lauren Wayne, author page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauren-Wayne-author/104277789602502. (Not so pretty.)
LaurenWayne is taken, of course. As is LWayne or anything else intuitive.
So I made a little poll on my page with some other options, and right now it's neck and neck between AuthorLaurenWayne and LaurenWayneOfficial. Unless we count Amanda's contribution…
If you believe in democracy, head on over and cast your vote!