Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Musings: Why NaNoWriMO 2010?

As some may have noticed I’m a bit scarce of late. I have a reason. I’m participating in Nano this month. It’s my first time of doing so officially.

I’ve had to make adjustments to accomplish the goal. Nano certainly cuts into any spare time, like reading the blogs I follow, reading books for reviews—although I’ve been cutting back on those anyway—and other things I enjoy doing. I haven’t removed those things from my life; just modified the time I spend on them, like commenting on or reading links I’d normally enjoy reading. Sometimes I’m a day late, or commenting late night.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy Nano as much as I have. I’ve heard the plusses and minuses of doing Nano, but like anything, you get out what you put in and “it” depends largely on what your goals are. If I make the 50k, and I’ll give it my best to do so, fine. If I don’t, I’m not going to beat myself up.

My past year has been hard emotionally. Losing my brother knocked me flat and dealing with the grief seemed to suck the creativity right out of me. All my emotion was involved with my loss and helping my family dealing with the same. I had none left over for much else.

Plus, I had to deal with a major case of ‘who the hell cares’ and a great reluctance to do anything that required too much effort. Especially on an emotional level. For sure, I had lost my writing routine. Early mornings have always been my most productive time. It became hit and miss because I stayed up too late and slept late. I had also lost my joy of daily writing and I must have had a dozen stories started and abandoned. I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for what I was writing. Somehow, I had become way too wrapped up in being perfect—nothing puts a stop on story flow like perfectionism. It all left me with a feeling of failure and kinda like a part of me had been amputated.

Which brings me to the why of Nano.

It's not a contest for me, a mad dash to see who can get the most words on paper so to speak. While I do like the challenge of being part of a group focusing on writing and reaching a deadline, it’s not at the expense of writing a good story. For me, that would be a waste of time.

My main goals with Nano are,

  • a) regain my daily writing routine and discipline,
  • b) regain my focus and joy of writing, and
  • c) get a story I’ve wanted to write for some time, down on paper. One that I started to research before my brother died.

I really like how focused I am. If I'm not physically writing my mind is writing and thinking about what's next. Nano is helping me not to worry too much about the mechanics of the writing as much as revel in the joy of the story unfurling. Seeing my research ideas transformed into a story that is alive and breathing. Having three-dimensional characters living and interacting in a world I’ve created piece by piece so it’s real. Best of all, there’s real emotion in my writing again. If I can’t feel emotion how can my reader?

Another valuable lesson I see with participating in Nano is a realization that if I'm waiting for the optimum time to write, I'm never going to get it. I'm gonna always have chores, noise, and life to deal with.

Additionally, Nano is good practice for when a person is published. Writing to deadlines and allotting a schedule of writing time to meet those deadlines. I’ve written to deadlines most of my working life and it takes a certain mindset. Certainly it requires a firm grasp on what’s required to achieve the deadline. Few writers can retire from being a spouse, parent, and money earner to write full time. Oh, maybe in a perfect world, lol! Reality is any writing that’s done is merely a task added to the existing routine. Even when you can write full time without an outside job, you still are going to have to deal with mates and kids and all that is involved with day-to-day living. Nano gives you a taste of what it could be like.

All in all, I'm so glad I signed up for Nano.

  • So, who of you are (or have) participating in Nano? Why did you decide to sign up? Any lessons learned you’d like to share?

Up coming guests: Wednesday, Alexandra Ivy, and on Friday I have Ryan O’Reilly (if that last name looks familiar there’s a good reason for that).
So be sure to check back.

Meanwhile, happy writing! I will be.


Pat Bertram said...

I'm on a vision quest. I'm hoping that by writing without thinking (because face it, to get the necessary word counts, it's almost impossible to stop and think) I will uncover something deep within. Wisdom, maybe. So far, I've only found words.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Words are good, Pat, lol!

Nano does help with the flow of words and the connecting to that part of a writer's brain that seems to guard those words and ideas and lets it loose.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. really sorry to hear about your brother .. my blessings to his family, to you and your family - the sadness of loss is monumental.

It is wonderful to read your way of getting through and pushing on - though your brother will be with you on your journey.

I haven't considered Nano .. but I admire everyone who gives it a go .. with thoughts - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. I've just seen Daniel next to my comment & realised why he's there .. it's great to be able to see him - he loks magnificent in his uniform .. wonderful reminder for you and one we can see .. thanks - Hilary

Tonya Kappes said...

Sia! I love your goals. They are wonderful!! I did Nano last year to challenge myself to 1>finish 50k words in a month, write daily 2>challenge myself to write in 3rd person. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT BOOK WAS PICKED UP AND RELEASE NEXT JULY!!! I didn't have any plans for that book, but I'm glad I challenged myself. I know you can do it!! Keep us updated.

Jo said...

Way to go Sia. Glenda Larke did Nano last year and ended up with one of her recently published books. Not being a novel writer I have never tried it.

Sorry for your loss. I hope the sadness will soon become less immediate.

Kat Sheridan said...

I'm so glad to hear you're having so much fun with NaNo! This is my fourth year, although I'm pretty sure it's going to be the first time I don't finish. That's ok. At least I'm thinking about writing, which hasn't happened in a while! I'm so happy for you!

Anonymous said...

It's been fun watching you run with this Sia.

This is my second NaNo and it looks like I'm on track to finish. My only goal was to write with abandon, and not think about everything that comes after the first draft. So far, mission accomplished.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hilary, it has been monumental and thank you.

Daniel is my older brother and I lost him in 1999. I don't yet have a picture up of Roland. They all looked good in their Scot regalia. We were part of a competition Pipe band. I've been searching our pictures for one of Mike, Roland and Dan in uniform. I haven't found it yet, we have scads of albums, but I will be posting it when I do.

Funny you should mention my brother being with me on the journey. The year before he died, we talked about this book idea. He loved it. My son (who is a teen) and Roland would debate over certain aspects of the story line. He was a big encouragement to stretch and write it. So, in a way, I am. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, I feel the same way. If I don't make 50K, that's okay. Nano has been a great tool in getting me to think about writing in a serious mode again and rediscover the joy of writing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tonya, I didn't know that was the book being picked up for the July release. How cool.I'm both excited for and proud of you!

Oh this one is definitely challenging me and I like the feeling.

Here's hoping lightning strike here too!

Elle J Rossi said...

Oh, Sia. Everything you said is what I'm feeling. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Our lives have taken a similar turn this past year and both of us are still climbing to get back to level ground.

This is my first NaNo year. I went into hoping it would make me write every day and I honestly didn't think 50k words was attainable. I was wrong. It's all about what you put into it and I'm putting my heart and soul into this story.

Thank you for the great post!

Houston A.W. Knight said...

I've never done this but one day I will have to try it.

Hugs Sweetie,

Houston A.W. Knight said...

BTW...I forgot to tell you...I got a surprise for you up at my blog - right side bar, short ways you like?


VA said...

November is a phenomenally bad month for me in general. I wish Nano was another month, in fact maybe I'll make it so--at least for me. I have way too many other deadlines due to swing it. But I start out with great expectations, and peter off as reality rears its ugly head.

I think the mindset of doing the goal is important and one that really shouldn't be relegated to a single month. Best of luck everyone Nanoing.

Olivia Cunning said...

You've got the perfect mindset, Sia. I'm not a "write with reckless abandon writer" either. I'd rather end with 25K good words than 50K of crap. I do hope I get 50K good words, but if not, I do know I did my personal best. The competition does move me forward but not the point where I'm writing for the sake of getting words on the paper.

This is my 4th Nano. I won the first year. Only ended up with about 25K the second. And was at 48,500 words on the third. Most people think that Thanksgiving weekend gives them MORE time to write. It's just the opposite for me. I have too many outside commitments in November. I'd do better on a regular month. Also one that was not cold, gray and dreary. Maybe VA and I could have a Nano in March. I'd say April but I'll have a blog tour this April and writing just doesn't happen when I'm on a blog tour.

Best of luck attaining your goals, Sia! Happy Nano-ing.

Abigail Reynolds said...

I'm so glad I'm doing NaNo. It quiets down my internal editor, the one who tells me I could say it better, but by the time I've figured out how to say it better, I've lost track of my inspiration for the next sentence. Nano forces me to keep going and just tell the story, which is much more productive (not to mention fun!). Just don't ask how many dialogue tags and adverbs I'm using.

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Elle, We have traveled similar paths, haven't we? Sending you hugs, level ground and a contract would be a great next shared experience wouldn't you say?

You're zooming right along and doing a marvelous job, Elle.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, aww. tis a darlin' thing ye've done lassie.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Olivia, thank you. I find smart writers do use Nano as a tool. For some it's an opportunity to write something new or in a different style, for others it being able to keep the editing witch at bay and just write.

Hey, if you want to do another Nano styled month, let me know and I'll join you. Seriously, I think it's a great idea. Having others sharing in the experience will help keep us on track with our daily goals. A little competition doesn't hurt either. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, I agree. I'm using this month to get me back on track for my daily writing.

But let's do another Nano month.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Abigail, "by the time I've figured out how to say it better, I've lost track of my inspiration for the next sentence." So true. I've also got the whole perfectionist thing to fight too.

Nano does give you the opportunity to just enjoy watching the story come alive. I keep telling myself, hey, you can fix it later or I insert a comment in the MS to check this or that or change this or that.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


;-) glad you liked it! Big hugs