Talk about writing exactly as much as you, personally, need to talk about writing.
So here we are, December first, and NaNo 2014 is a memory, hopefully a good one for those who did and did not participate. I was a not this year, but I’m still counting it as a success. My plans for sneaking into write-ins resulted in exactly zero attempts at doing so; I was too busy keeping my head down and eyes on my own paper, which was a big surprise. I also visited the forums a grand total of zero times. I did meet a NaNo friend to write at a coffee house once and have plans to repeat the experience later this month. My source of community this month was emails and instant messaging with writer friends, notably a critique partner I will call CP, either casually while each worked on our own projects or dedicated chats scheduled in advance.
I found that nattering in detail with one trusted writer friend gave me what I needed to go into the head down, eyes on own paper mode. Some days, that was so I would have something about which to natter. It’s a delicate balance between the thinking and talking happening at the same time while at the same time (yes, repetitive phrase, I know, but shush, gremilns. You can come back when it’s time to edit.) not getting so many other voices and expectations in my head that they drowned out the voices of characters and story.
It’s a journey of discovery, to be sure, and one that isn’t over merely because November is done. Fall and winter are my most productive times of year. I’m not sure if it’s the shorter days, the feeling of the world being safely tucked in for the night around four-thirty or so that makes me want to have most of the work done by then…but then sneaking in a bit more writing while doing the rest of the evening’s stuff.
The routine is getting set in place once more, and I think the writing will be better for it. I am a morning person. This means that, despite anyone else in the household spending the morning at a leisurely pace (if not heading out the door to an early shift) nine AM needs to see me dressed, made up, computer packed and feet out the door to home office away from home office at the coffee house one block over or Panera on the other side of the park. Tush in chair, tea at hand, notebook and computer at the ready and let’s do this thing. I’ve been juggling a couple of different projects at different stages, one of which does not want to be talked about at all, apart from discussions with CP – some stories are like that- and one which may want to drop a line here now and again. Some stories are like that, too. Both are perfectly fine. Stories come as stories come. If I had to pinpoint one thing I learned about my own writing from my NaNot month, it was this: I need to get out of the story’s way. Don’t try to cram it into a box where it won’t fit, but follow its natural form. Easy to say, but took some effort to learn.
I know how to do this. I have done this. I can do this again. I am doing this now. The hypercritical gremlins that like to live in writers’ heads have their places (usually in the editing process) but it’s better, at least for me, to get that story down as wild as it comes from my brain and fix all the rough spots later, when it’s done. I had a gym teacher, Ms. Napier, back in junior high who loved athletics like I love historical romance. When she took us girls on a cross country run, even those of us straining and panting as we hobbled along at the rear of the pack, she had one bit of wisdom for us: we were not allowed to quit if we could see the finish line.
It’s like that here. Can I see the end of the story? Yes. Then onward, fleet like a gazelle some days, eating the ground with long, confident strides. Panting and stumbling other times, still others prone on the floor, dragging myself forward by my fingertips, but an inch forward is still forward. I’m liking the way it works. Now bring on December.