I have ruminated about writing during NaNoWriMo for years ever since I first heard about it, way back when in college (I think…). I decided to “eat the frog” as Mark Twain is credited with saying. Of course I didn’t “eat the frog” first on any given day but I did write the first week pretty consistently. Then the house succumbed to the stomach bug; all three of us threw up and it was basically a week of vomit because of the couple days between the Mr. and the Munchkin getting it and then me coming down with it. That derailed me pretty handily. I didn’t feel “normal” again for a couple days after my initial fight with the throw up.
Things I learned:
- As with any habit consistency > intensity. While I was writing every night after the house was quiet, I was on track (for a whole week….) to meet the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month. As soon as the sickness prevailed and knocked my fledgling habit for a loop it was lost and getting back on track was a lost cause. How many times must we “start” something? Starting is way more exhausting than continuing but when your habits are not cemented it always seems like your starting over again and again.
- When I watch TV I really lose a lot of time to other activities. I once heard on the Jillian Michael’s podcast that you have 12 hours a week of “free” time. Obviously this was a rough estimate based on 40 hour work week, commutes, household responsibilities, sleep and what not. She was making a case that in that 12 hours you can find time for 4 or 5 thirty minute workouts. This endeavor made me realize that I let the passive mind-numbing of the TV take up way more time than it should somedays. Once again, I’m not against TV but it’s not something that I need in my life on a daily basis if there are truly other things I want out of life. I was able to write more, sleep better, and get to sleep on time if I didn’t turn the TV on.
- Part of the reason I want to turn the TV on is because by the time everyone goes to bed sometimes I’m just drained. I’ve reached decision fatigue by the time the house is quiet and putting on the TV and just relaxing for a few hours seems like a pretty good idea. I did have the problem, however, of not having anything to actually watch. I am currently in a lull of shows and haven’t found anything binge worthy for my current mood so I spent HOURS mindlessly flipping through on demand, Amazon Prime and Netflix trying to find something that caught my interest. Which left me feeling even MORE exhausted mentally because I couldn’t find anything that was satisfying. Kind of like having the apple when you really want the reese’s peanut butter cup (my fave!). If I had just turned off the TV and sat down to write I would have had more words in my “novel”.
- Setting my Fitbit goal to 7,000 steps instead of 10,000 is completely acceptable and caused me to hit my goal way more often and feel better about myself. While not strictly writing related if you’re going to try and spend 30 minutes-1 hour writing a day that can take a chunk out of your walking time so lowering my step goal and then hitting it more often made me happier with myself during this process.
- I need to type on platforms that are not connected to the internet. If you haven’t been in my brain a long time you wouldn’t know it but I tend to go off on tangents. One of our favorite games is sometimes trying to track back through a conversation to see where we started. My brain is like an internet browser with new tabs constantly being opened. The problem is when I have a thought and want to look it up, if I’m connected to the internet I look it up and then can go down the rabbit hole of the internet. Just now, I went looking for information about the science behind 10,000 steps as the “goal” in case I wanted to include a link for number 3 (I opted not to) but found a lot of very interesting articles about 10,000 steps and promptly wasted a few minutes in google land.
- I have started plugging my phone in the kitchen while writing and then leaving it there before going to bed. This kept the phone out of easy reach (see number 4) for distraction purposes and then I slept better and when I woke up I didn’t waste time lying in bed mindlessly scrolling through all that I missed over night. While again not directly related to writing, it was something that added overall to my quality of life during the month of November.
At the end of the month, I’m glad I tried it. I’m glad I went for it and had a REASON to write. Even if it was completely incoherent babble from a very busy brain. It gave me something to do that felt like I was working towards a goal. I’m glad I just kind of jumped right in without much thought or preparation. If I had looked before I leapt I might still be looking. I “failed” in the terms of writing a novel (I’ve been failing a lot lately) but I succeeded in so many other ways. I saw there was time in my day for these pursuits, and it also helped me put into greater perspective why habits are more important than spur of the moment motivation. It helped me figure out my one word for 2019 (look for more on that soon) and I think I might end up trying my hand at NaNoWriMo again next year but maybe with a little more preparation. Perhaps I can talk one of my English teacher friends into giving me some of their pre-writing worksheets to help organize my thoughts. If you’re looking into doing something or even thinking about trying NaNoWriMo next year, I say do it! Failing only happens when you don’t learn something!