This image resonated with me because it is very in-line with my stances on How to Have a Day Job.
Image by Rusty Butcher.
Okay, so…I can’t even believe I’m heading into the last week of this crazy journey. I have less than 15K words left, you all. 15K. And I’m all, “Oh god, am I actually going to get to the end of this?! Or am I going to have to go all Imperial Affliction and end this in the middle of a sentence BUT IF SO I HAVE TO GIVE SOMEONE CANCER.”
If you understand all that, you are my kind of people.
So let’s see…pointers from this week:
- I made pouch shrimp one day, and it was essentially green onion, shrimp, ramen and broth with mushrooms. It was delicious and really easy to make. Meals like that have made this month possible.
- I didn’t realize this but I felt more like I was really switching from a feminine to a masculine point of view by changing my music stations (feminine was Amanda Palmer station, masculine was Nirvana/Radiohead station). I was very surprised there, but it’s a nifty trick.
- This is a bit more of a life lesson, but when you’re undertaking projects like this, it is easy to lose sight of the people around you also undertaking projects. Even if you run out of time to give them feedback immediately, let them know that you believe in them and that you are rooting for them.
- The holidays are coming up. I challenge you to balance these two aspects of your life: creativity and togetherness. Is your book important? Absolutely. Is it important that you take some time away so you can appreciate the people around you? Also absolutely. Budget your time. Now. Before Thanksgiving.
I am grateful for every one of you. Have a great week, and I’ll see you when all the crying is done.
I wish I could say this past week was better than the first, but it really wasn’t. It was just as hard if not harder. I had come out of the box sprinting and started struggling to just maintain a jog.
Even writing this, I feel so damn tired. So let’s head into the bullet points of lessons learned:
- Write every day. It’s been debated back and forth by writers throughout the years, but if there is one thing this month has taught me is that there is validity to it. It doesn’t have to be with the goal of hitting 50K words in a month, but you should at least open that document, add a sentence, look at it and acknowledge it every day.
- Change up your environment. Write at the library. Write at coffee shops. Write at book stores. Write in your car. But don’t make it somewhere too interesting, or else you’ll do whatever it is one does at that location without actually writing.
- Pace yourself. I like the pomodoro method, which is 20 minute spurts of work followed by a five minute break. Obviously sometimes you’ll hit a streak and lose track of this, but try to at least monitor when you last got up to stretch your legs.
- Feeling guilty is pointless, meaningless garbage. There is a lot of bad shit in the world, and you may find some conscience critter showing up on your shoulder like, “What are you doing to make things better, you punk? Writing? Yeah, that’s won wars.” Art heals. Understand that you are working towards something that can heal people in the middle of this bad shit. Be comforted, and punch that critter in the face.
Geez louise, you guys.
I won’t lie, y’all. NaNoWriMo is a mud run for writers. It’s trying to take everything you’ve learned over the span of your entire lifetime as a writer and trying to make it all apply in this mad dash of 50K words.
The first week has been good. I’ve fallen behind a little this weekend, but I’m not too worried, truth be told. I’m not at that point where I am desperately counting words, like they are vital nutrient-rich calories while I am Bear-Grylls-ing my way through alien terrain.
There are a few things that have kept me going: Chuck Wendig and his book 30 Days in the Word Mines. Chocolate. Pandora. Field trips to places I hadn’t been before. Visual art.
I’ve also learned a few lessons: turn off word count when you’re trying to get productive. Don’t try and watch anything while you’re writing. Don’t stop believing. Hold onto that feeling.
It may be a Journey lyric, but it applies.
Why is it that every year when daylight savings time ends, that Sunday feels like the longest day of the year? I slept in this morning after starting National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I’m still shocked that there is usable time to today!
What is that can make a single hour so special? Ever day, we take these little chunks of time for granted. We can zone out through an entire hour with no effort, or we can feel like asking for an hour is a life-changing request.
Just think of the things you can do with an hour for yourself:
- Journal, write or scrapbook. I especially love Project Life for this sort of thing.
- Watch an episode of your favorite show.
- Take a shower with your favorite soaps and shampoos.
- Take a walk around the block. Smell the flowers and appreciate the area you live in.
- Email a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them what they mean to you.
- Clean up a section of your house. This could be a shelf, a closet, a drawer, anything! It’s crazy how much you can get done in even 20 minutes when that is what you are focused on.
- Meditate or pray.
- Read a book or play a video game.
What an hour truly comes down to is being mindful of what it is. If you take the time to be present in those 60 minutes, it’s amazing how much more refreshed you feel after it’s over.
How did you spend your 25th hour today?
As I type these words, it is 10:53PM on Halloween. I have eaten my body weight in candy and assorted snacks. I have showered, I have drunk water, I have adjusted one of the few clocks in the house that will not magically flip back an hour on its own (I had this conversation with a friend tonight, how the phenomenon of “changing your clocks” just doesn’t apply to most people anymore, since cell phones and computers have now taken over the world. Who actually has to set clocks anymore?)
I am both ready and not ready for this.
I am so excited and so scared. A lot of people don’t get it, because once I answer the question, “Do you win a prize?” with a firm no, people go all funny-eyed. Even better are the ones that go, “Wait, you write?” And then I go listen to Nine Inch Nails and sob into a pillow for an hour.
There are a few things I have ready that I think are going to prove very helpful this month.
- A script: If someone asks me “Hey, how’s that thing going?” I have a few responses in the old mouth cannon: if I’m on schedule, I’ll go, “It’s good. Smooth sailing.” If I’m ahead, I’ll go, “Everything is coming up Katie! Thanks for asking!” If I’m behind, I’ll go, “Plugging along. Can’t stop now.” If I feel like the world is falling apart, I’ll go, “OMG, do you want to see that new Frankenstein movie with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe as much as I do?”
- A magic hat: This concept came from No Plot? No Problem! (Revised, Updated, and Expanded) by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. In one of the prep chapters, Baty talks about having something to get you into the mindset to write. This year, I have a Pikachu hat that I got in my Loot Crate about a month or so ago. It is absolutely the most ridiculous thing, but since I am wont to acquire hats with ears, it’s pretty par for the course. Wearing them inside while doing other things, however, is a totally different thing.
- Accountability: I’ve posted on many forms of social media that I am doing this. In fact, I’m reiterating it right now to you, my friends. And that means that on 11/2 I can’t be all, “Okay, well, this was a nice thought, but…”
- An Instant Pot: okay, my husband was actually the one who spear-headed this purchase a few months back. I was like, “Isn’t it just a crock pot? We have a crock pot.” An Instant Pot is a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browner, Yogurt Maker, Steamer and Warmer. Put food in, hit button, cooked food comes out within minutes. Magic device.
- A schedule: Outside of my word counts (I’m aiming at 2K a day at first to make up for the time around Thanksgiving) I have a pretty straightforward schedule for other things I want to do, including exercising and art. I’m doing this because I know that if I don’t allow myself flexibility and time to do things other than write, I’ll burnt out hard and fast.
How about you? How are you getting ready for this? What are the tools in your utility belt? Tell me about them!