Okay, let’s get real for a minute.
Before we start this NaNoWriMo journey together, I first need to get something out in the open.
I am exhausting as a human being.
I am exhausting as a human being, and it’s not just exclusive to one area of my life. I am exhausting in everything. Regardless of what I am doing, I must be the best, and, if there is no possible way I will be the best, then I must try the hardest. I must put the most effort into the project. I must excel!
For example: Writing, a quick timeline. I’ve always wanted to write, but never applied myself to it. About four months ago, I decide to stop talking and start doing. I start keeping a journal and doing short story/prompt exercises. I LOVE IT! Three(ish) months ago, I say to myself “this is fun, but it’s isolating just writing for myself” so I create a blog. I LOVE IT ALSO! Two months ago, I go “this is still fun but how am I supposed to get any better?” which leads me to join a writer’s group. I LOVE IT EVEN MORE! One month ago, I ask myself “how can I keep pushing myself?” and obviously I sign up for NaNoWriMo!!
I wish I could say that this pattern of pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing for excellence is unique, but it plays itself out constantly in my life. I try to slow down, but when I get really excited about something I just can’t stop; and, I am really excited about writing. I love it. I’m not sure what I did without it a mere few months ago.
But, writing (and more specifically preparing for NaNoWriMo) has been a good reminder that I have to be kind to myself. I have a full-time job and family/life responsibilities. As much as I would love to, I can’t lock myself in my office and pretend that nothing else exists. Trying to simultaneously run my professional, family, and writing lives at full throttle is a recipe for disaster and a good way to burn myself out.
So, being kind to myself…
My plan was to use the book First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner to prepare for NaNoWriMo. It’s a deceptive title, because you’re really not writing a first draft. You are doing extensive outlining and planning in order to prepare for writing your first draft. The book very nicely lays out what you should do day-by-day and even has accompanying outlines. Having so little experience, this structure is very comforting for me.
Well, now I am eight days into my 30-day planning period and I have done very little planning. Also, I have a big family event this weekend which requires two days of traveling. In effect, I have been terrible at meeting the expectations I set for myself so far, and, it’s unlikely to get any better until next week. My first gut reaction is to beat myself up over this. I should have planned better. I should have anticipated being busy. I should have lost sleep and pushed myself harder. Nevertheless, I am trying to practice being kind to myself.
*Deep Breath* *Okay, maybe one more deep breath because I don’t think I calmed down the first time*
It’s going to be okay. I have some general outlines done, and I am going to keep trying to work on the planning as I have time. Even if I don’t following every step of Wiesner’s book perfectly, I will still be better off come November than I would have been otherwise.
So with that being said, that’s where I am at in the process. I am perfecting the art of being a high-strung, perfectionist, neurotic, and trying to remind myself that I enjoy writing for a reason. There is no need to suck all the fun out of it in one fell swoop.
Next week, I will be back (hopefully with a touch less self-therapizing) with my progress and more information about the pros/cons of First Draft in 30 Days from my use of it so far! In the meantime, learn from my mistakes and remember to be kind to yourself!
Anyone else having a stressful October? What are you doing to prep for NaNoWriMo?