Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNo Post Mortem

So it's over. Thirty days, fifty thousand words, all done. What next?

Well, first off, the plan outlined in an earlier post actually worked like a charm! I made it all the way through November, and I wrote every single day, and I wasn't sick once, and while I did eat out a few times, I ate breakfast every day at home, and almost all my lunches and suppers (as in over 90 percent of them) at home as well.

I did not gain thirty pounds pigging out on junk food. (I also didn't lose thirty pounds, but that wasn't in the plan...)

I actually have started getting daily exercise, because I signed on for three daily paper routes, and that started a week ago.

My ex walked in to the kitchen yesterday and did a double take at the uncluttered counter. He'd have really flipped out if he'd looked in the cupboards -- one more to go, then the kitchen is organized! And I worked on it during November.

The two major events I've been part of planning are almost done -- the one last week went very well, considering it was our first time. The one this coming Saturday is looking to be better than last year. We're almost all ready -- I have a list of stuff to do tomorrow and Saturday, but I'll still have a fair amount of free time to celebrate with my daughter and her friend, who also reached 50K.

And most importantly, I can envision myself continuing the process of daily writing until this year's novel is done. My plan is to then go back and finish my 2008 NaNo winner, which was abandoned in mid-December of that year. Then it's on to revision for both of them.

So what did I learn?

First off, I learned that when my space and my life are organized, I can be a tortise, and I learned that slow and steady really does win the race. I honestly thought I didn't have it in me to do something at an even pace over a long period. I thought I was doomed to be the hare all my life, and fall asleep or give up just short of the finish line. (Or else burn myself out with a last minute burst of speed that might or might not propel me to a win.)

Second, I learned that what the FLYLady says really is true: I can do anything, fifteen minutes at a time. That's how the novel got written, the dishes and laundry got done, the clutter got pitched, the papers got delivered, the bills got paid, the bed got made... Focus on one thing at a time, for fifteen minutes, and you can get a lot more done in a day than most people do in a week, because all too often our time is wasted wondering what to do next, instead of doing!

Three, I re-learned the power of companionship. I'm not one who likes to journey alone. I will if I have to, but the few times I've done that, I've phoned home every day. I need friends and family to journey with me. This year, I had the girls, I had a bunch of folks over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, and one friend my age who I met through the NaNo forums. I cheered them on, they cheered me on. We warred with each other, spoke and wrote encouraging words, and the novels got writ. More of my NaNo buddies showed up as winners this year than in any previous year, and I gave out a lot of rep points at the Cooler, and received almost as many in turn.

I need my friends!

Together, these three learnings have given me back my hope. I've been writing since I was six years old. It's always been a part of me. But I don't think I ever really believed that I could become a professional, because of the lack of daily habits.

I now know that I can do it. So it's on to the next phase: actually doing it. Writing every day, revising what I write, having it critiqued and revising it again. And finally, submitting it to an agent or publisher, and dealing with all that comes from that process.

And I know that a prolonged absence from a writing community is not a good idea for me. So I'll keep in touch with the folks from the Cooler, and I'll keep writing, and one day you WILL see my name on the bestseller list!

Happy writing!


Frank Baron said...

I'm convinced.

And I want a signed copy. :)

Ruth Cooke said...

Just saw this now, Frank. Blame it on the holidays. :p

Of course I'll reserve a signed copy for you. Plus, you can even beta read if you want (once I'm done) to make sure I got all the stuff about fishing right. :D