Here’s what October 2016 looked like in writing…
662,661/600,000 words (110%)
Only goal this month was to get ready for NaNoWriMo which wasn’t numerically based.
Total Words Written
Average Words Per Day
- All the NaNoWriMo ML stuff!
Other Works Actively in Progress this Month:
- The MG novel nicknamed WOC1
I’m writing this early because I actually have time at the moment (which will not be the case during NaNoWriMo) so I don’t actually know what my final numbers for the month look like. But sometimes a month of writing is about more than the numbers and that’s the case with this one. October is usually one of my lowest word count months because of all the ML work and NaNoWriMo prep I have to do so it’s the rare month where I didn’t go in word guns blazing.
October is also my birthday month and, while we didn’t really do anything spectacular to celebrate it, we did go away for a little weekend trip. Though it was only two nights and not particularly relaxing (because toddler) it was still nice to have a change of scenery and we all had a lot of fun. I mention this because taking this small break, likely to be my only vacation of sorts for a very long time, made me realize something.
In a writer’s group I’m in, someone posted an article where the author was quitting writing because it was no longer fun and, as person after person posted about how relatable this was and how they feel like this all the time, I kept feeling weirder and weirder. Because I couldn’t relate at all. I can’t remember the last time writing was “fun” for me. Maybe back when I’d never published anything and I had no deadlines or goals and was just toodling around? Now it’s a thing I have to do. Sometimes because of a goal or deadline. Sometimes because it’s just something my brain seems to require to stay sane. But the thought of quitting has never, ever crossed my mind, no matter how little fun I’m having.
And thinking about it made me realize that my relationship with writing has gotten a bit toxic. I accomplished so much this year in terms of things finished and published but it had a cost and I spent a lot of this year stressed and stretched to my absolute limit. Insert all your caveats about how things will be different when I’m not caring for both a career and young children that I try to tell myself every day but the fact remains that I’ve been trying to churn out a full timer’s amount of work on a part timer’s schedule and it’s been anything but enjoyable. I haven’t wanted to pull back on the word production because my career has some real momentum right now and it’s just stupid not to build on that, especially when I’m so close to done on so many projects, but something has to give.
In the meantime, we’re trying to sell our house and move. All this change and chaos is happening on a personal level. I finally realized there is only so much of me to go around and that maybe I need to take a step back for a minute and chill. I already hit my word count goal for 2016. I completely surpassed my goal of projects finished and published (even if they weren’t the projects I’d hoped to get done). What the heck am I still racing for?
In the September recap, I was freaking out about running out of time and needing to finish both the MG novel and the play before the new year and that deadline is still completely in effect. But, for some reason, it’s not stressing me as much anymore. I’ll still work on them as I get ideas but they’ll otherwise get done when they’re done. What I really need is to truly take a real honest to goodness break from the pressure that’s built up with everything (and those two projects specifically) and just work on any old thing until my brain has a chance to finally relax from this tensed up state I’ve been in most of the year.
So my goal for this month was pretty much nothing. I had NaNoWriMo work to do, of course, but have otherwise written nothing but journal entries and random notes on the MG novel as I try to figure out where to go on that. I’ve been reading about writing craft and doing some exercises there to keep the pen moving, but I’m letting go of the laser goal oriented focus I’ve held for much of the year and it’s been… kinda nice.
Next month is NaNoWriMo and you know I’m in. But I’m not committing to a single project. Instead I’m going to just work on whatever strikes my fancy until I reach the word count goal, something I haven’t done in over two years.
I’ve been so obsessed with getting this project done and then the next one and then the next one that I haven’t let myself have the luxury of working on whatever I feel like so that’s what’s on the menu for the immediate future. I expect to tinker with those non-fiction books I outlined next month, particularly the NaNoWriMo ones as they are on my mind right now with the event coming up. And while I’m still not sure how to move forward in the latest rewrite of the MG novel, I realized there is some backstory stuff it wouldn’t hurt to clarify in my head so why couldn’t I write some of that for NaNoWriMo? It may find a place in a later book or it may just inform this blasted rewrite but it certainly wouldn’t be wasted work. It might even be kind of…gasp!… fun!
Because I shuffled my writing year around so that it ends in November, it seems fitting this year to let myself comfortably jog to the finish line after a year where I pushed myself so hard. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun, after all, and it will be that much more fun if I’m not stressing the living heck out of myself. Lord knows, there’s enough going on behind the scenes that I can let myself coast for a bit.
October is a month of change. Of the world preparing for the winter ahead and going out in a glorious blaze of color. But instead of taking my cues from the frantic squirrels, this year I’m a tree quietly preparing myself for the changes ahead by letting go one leaf at a time.