On NaNoWriMo, and Kicking my Own Butt

I’ve been really struggling to get any writing done lately. First, there was the dead laptop. And after that was fixed, save for a short lived writing frenzy prompted by excitement at having my laptop back, it was lack of time and motivation. Otherwise known as excuses.  So, in an attempt to motivate myself and hold myself accountable, I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year.

I’ve heard a lot of really good things over the last couple of years about this excellent annual event, but never quite got around to doing it. This year, I figured there’s nothing like an online community and word counter to keep me motivated. The only problem is that it hasn’t really worked so well. It’s not you, NaNoWriMo, it’s me. You’ve been great, really, and that dress totally doesn’t make you look fat. It’s just…I’ve been single for a really long time, and I don’t remember what it’s like to be in a committed relationship.

That’s kind of how it feels. Like I’m in a relationship with someone caring and supportive and totally awesome, and I’m dropping the ball. I’m a terrible girlfriend, I know. But I promise I’ll be better, if you just give me a chance. See, I haven’t been doing very well at all. Firstly, I forgot I’d even signed up until four days into November. And then, though I made a strong start in an attempt to make up for lost time, I allowed myself to get distracted by episodes of Gossip Girl instead of writing. (By the way, on the GG front, don’t judge me. I started watching it to get some fashion inspiration for clothing to make, and then got entirely too into the poxy plots). But I have been trying harder. I bought a new notebook to take to work with me, and have been writing by hand and manually counting my words to enter in. It’s a much slower process than blasting out the words on a laptop, but I kind of like it. It allows me to really get into what I’m writing instead of focusing so much on how many words I’ve written. When you don’t have a running tally unless you do it yourself, it becomes less about how much or how little you have written, and more about the actual words. It’s cathartic.

I am taking any spare moment I have to get some words out on paper, and despite being way too behind on my word count (the number of words I have to get to achieve the target goal on time increases by the day), this is the most motivated I have been to write in…well, a really long time. And if for no other reason, signing up for and participating in NaNoWriMo this year has been beneficial to me as a writer, and as a person. I feel like I need this motivation, as some kind of validation. I have been talking about being a writer since I was little, but I have been fluffing about for a lot of that time too, and I think people have stopped taking me seriously. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think I have stopped taking myself seriously, and that’s the problem. I have had enough of allowing myself to be lazy. They talk about chasing your dreams; well, I’m about to.

The Mighty Pen

I’ve been writing a lot these past two weeks. Not working on my future famous novel, because my laptop is still as dead as a doornail, but instead I’ve been kicking it old school, and writing down a stream of consciousness by hand in a notebook. I’ve written before about how keeping a diary has kept me sane. This is kind of like that.

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The new shop can get pretty quiet in the mornings, and I figured bringing a book to read would be a bit conspicuous. So instead, I purchased a cheap notebook. If I’m writing, to passers by it would just look like I’m working. It also has the bonus of, y’know…being writing. Writing, in any form, is the thing getting me by at the moment. It’s been difficult to find time to sew, and even though I started trying to learn the violin the other day, I still need to work out how to tune it before I can practice properly. Writing in this notebook is easy because I can do it at work.

I’ve been going through a pretty confusing and difficult adjustment, the details of which I won’t bore you with…again. But suffice to say, I’m in a pretty low state for a lot of reasons. So I’ve been writing down the things in my head, to get them down on paper and clear out the murky mess that is my headspace. It’s helped more than I could have hoped. I’ve been able to work through some issues objectively and rationally. I’ve been able to make sense of things that have been messing with my head. I’ve been able to deal with this giant whirlwind of emotions that has been threatening to engulf me for months, if I’m being honest.

In addition to the therapeutic side of this exercise, it’s also a good way to keep creative. I write about people I meet and things I see. I’ve been drafting patterns ideas for projects I want to make. I’ve even begun developing some characters for a new story I have forming in my brain bits. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and in my case that rings true. Which is lucky, really, because I was never coordinated enough to play with swords anyway.

On Keeping a Diary, and Why I Write

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Me too, Jodi. Me too.

For a few years now, I have kept a diary. As a writer (and aspiring author) who deals mostly with a laptop, I find the act of putting an actual pen to paper quite therapeutic. There’s something different about writing with an actual pen, and in the case of my diary writing, fountain pens in particular. I get caught up in the way my hand moves across the page and the way words form. I think writing by hand is such a beautiful and under-appreciated art.

My diary is the keeper of secrets, like a close friend, or an extension of myself that I tell my darkest thoughts to. Writing in a diary is a way to clear my head of all the thoughts that can sometimes overwhelm it. Those thoughts can be as simple as a five word sentence, or as detailed as a passage that goes for three pages. I occasionally read over the entries and get taken aback by how much negativity I seem to spill out. And then I remember that that is the purpose of my diary.

Sometimes you have things that you feel as though you can’t tell anyone. It’s not that they won’t understand – though perhaps they won’t – but you don’t want to burden them with all your issues. Your friends, your family, your work mates; they all have lives of their own and you have to respect sometimes that they might not want to, or might not be capable of dealing with your problems as well as their own. And for me, that’s where my diary comes into play. It is, I suppose, a way to vent to something that won’t be burdened by the things in my head.

Keeping a diary is beneficial to me in a lot of ways. I can keep up the practice of writing by hand, which I find both calming and cathartic. I have a way to rid myself of negative thoughts, by putting them down on paper. It helps to clear my head, and seeing the things that are worrying me written down also helps to work through them. Many people keep a diary for the same reasons, and there is definitely a reason I started writing my thoughts down so many years ago.

It can be the smallest, simplest things that can be the most rewarding. And that, among all the other reasons, is why I write. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it; writing really is my saviour.