NaNoWriMo Day 18 — Fast Drafts Are Not For Me

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I am aware my NaNoWriMo updates have been sporadic at best, and I could offer a variety of reasons for this, but I’m not going to.

Let’s just say life is busy, I’m still writing (although I am a little behind on my word count), and sleep takes precedence over updating this blog.

I admire those that do daily updates on their progress and list their stats and all that, but that is not how I roll at this time, nor do I have the time to do so.

I would like to talk about things I have been grappling with lately, if you don’t mind.

I have read two articles recently that struck a chord with me and I want to share. The first comes from the amazing folks over at The Write Practice. I love all of their posts and get excited each time I see a new post from them in my inbox. A recent article they put out, “Why Fast First Drafts Aren’t For Everyone“, really got me thinking about my own method of writing…

And I think I am one of those folks that need more time to write.

I just cannot pound out more than 2,000 words in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Or, even if I did achieve this feat, the words would be crap. My mind does not work at lightning speed and never has.

I only think of witty or clever things to say a day or two after the moment has passed. I mull over plot and character possibilities for several minutes or more before I choose one to go with. I write a free verse poem and sit on it for weeks sometimes before I read it over, edit, and publish it here. I am terrible at arguing because I would rather hear the other person’s grievances, think about it for a few hours to an entire day, and then write a letter or e-mail to them stating my side of the issue.

I’m a thinker and I need time.

NaNoWriMo has been infinitely helpful to me, however. I have developed a daily practice of writing, which was my primary goal anyway. When my word count began to fall behind last week, I felt a stab of guilt and disappointment in myself for not pushing through, for not forsaking sleep and health and relationships for the written word.

Of course, I knew feeling this way was nonsense, seeing that if I am not taking care of myself I am no good to my husband or children (no one likes a grumpy wife or mom) and my writing would quickly suffer as a result of a brain that could not function to the best of its abilities.

The second article I read that I loved is by Jennifer S. White and I saw it on Elephant Journal, another really great online publication. “The All-or-Nothing Approach to Life Doesn’t Work” resonated with me since I am also a busy mother and wife that has a tendency to all-or-nothing approaches. I try to achieve everything at once with perfection, attempting to do it all, or I have the burn-out periods of doing nothing at all because my mind and body cannot support any endeavors past daily necessities.

This was something I really needed to read because I have been trying to set up daily routines and rituals for myself to create a more productive and satisfying life.

But instead of setting up one new routine at a time, I was trying to add in at least six new tasks for each day. Inevitably, there would be two or more of these additions that did not get accomplished and I would be left feeling frustrated over the whole thing, which would flow into the next day in a vicious cycle of disappointment, frustration, and just well, feeling down about my abilities to excel in life.

The rituals were supposed to help, not make things worse!

I have (finally) realized that I cannot be a homeschooling mother of two, a devoted wife, an immaculate housekeeper, a yogi, a writer, a journal-keeper, a meditator, a knitter, a reader, etc all in one day everyday. There is just no way this can happen, at least not for the mind that needs ample time to sort anything and everything out before action can take place.

“And, here’s another thing–my healthiest self walked away from this writing. While my preference is to hole up in my bedroom with coffee and my laptop, this, again, is a current rarity.”

Jennifer hit the nail on the head with this one. I have my own preferences about how to conduct my life and engage myself in my passions…but with little Monsters in the home, my preferences are often thrown out the window. I know time will pass, my children will grow older and more independent, and I will be left with more time — if only to think: how did they grow up so fast!?

Life isn’t about checking things off on a list, or being able to do everything you want to do the way you want to do them all of the time.

Life is about the experience while doing what you love, what you don’t love, and learning from each and every moment.

 “And trust me—I’m an all-or-nothing sort of person (if you’ll recall). So, I understand that multi-tasking is a myth; that life is easier when performed orderly, cleanly, neatly and entirely. But I’m also a yoga practitioner (I think I mentioned that too)—I believe that living moment-by-moment is the only way to truly live (happily at least).”

As painful as it is for me to admit, I can only do so much in a day, and things I love to do often get pushed to the side for the well-being of those around me, or for my own well-being.

Writing, yoga, reading, and many other things are important parts of a balanced and healthy life for me, but it’s the balancing part that I need to practice more. Not attempting an all-or-nothing approach…because it has not and will not work.

I know I have gotten off topic from NaNoWriMo a bit, but I wanted to address these aspects of life, and what is writing if not an integral part of our messy lives?

I will continue to write each day during NaNoWriMo and beyond…just maybe not 1,667 words a day.

How is your writing going? How is life? Do you find you have difficulties balancing your passions and loves in life? I would love to hear what works or does not work for you.

Have a wonderful day, and Happy Writing, everyone!

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