When you think about all the authors out there who make a living just writing, it’s easy to get pretty envious.  I’m not sure that would ever be the life for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of hiding away in some desolate cabin or ranch or villa  (preferably villa) and just whiling away the hours writing sounds like a dream come true. But I don’t know that I could just do that. Wake up, write all day, the end.

Being a teacher is part of my identity. It explains a lot about me, like why I go to bed so early, and why I frequently have to hide alcoholic beverages when I’m in public, or why I can’t wear my pajamas out in public anymore. It’s also my source of inspiration.  I write for them and my own fifth-grade self. I write because they inspire me with their lives and their writing.

I’ve been struggling with what my priorities are lately. I want writing to be a priority, but it seems to be the first thing that I let go of when I get stressed and busy, well, second thing (exercise is definitely the first to go). When I think about why I’m letting it go so easily I can think of a few reasons: it’s hard, it makes me think and question myself, it takes time. But when I weigh those reasons against the reasons why I write: to inspire my students, to express myself, to be free, there’s just no comparison.  Writing must become a priority.

I have the next 6 weeks free and clear from any pressing obligations, with the exception of a wedding to go to, but that’s not an obligation, it’s a celebration.  So when I think of all I could accomplish in 42 days, I become downright giddy. I need to start solid writing routines that will carry with me into next school year, so that even when I’m busy and pulled in a million directions, I carve out the time to do the work.

Quick Struggles, Finding What’s Good

I just spent the last 2 hours attempting to eek out the requisite 1,667 words in order to reach 50,000 by the end of the month. I made it to 1,837, thanks to a little surge at the end.
It’s not that I don’t know what I want to write, it’s that it’s not coming out on paper the way it plays in my head. So my goal tomorrow is to silence the inner critic- the one who eats my precious time, slowly chews it, and spits it out, like it doesn’t mean anything. I know the work can be done in far less time. Day 1 was one hour.
Even with the struggles to focus, I feel like the story was more comfortable for me tonight. I didn’t love where it was going yesterday, but it took a better turn today. The best part, though, was I typed for a while and reread what I had just written and I unearthed a precious little tagline. I searched the phrase with quotation marks and it doesn’t exist in the google-sphere as written, so I’m going to put it out there and lay claim to it right now!
“And when things got supernatural, life got messy.”

Developing a Writing Practice

Write everyday. That’s what they all say. They are people who write and who I admire. So, if they say to write everyday, I trust it to be good advice.

This summer I began keeping a writer’s notebook. I didn’t struggle with the daily writing part, so much as the diary-ishness of what I was writing. I wasn’t getting writing done, because I was just venting and not reflecting. When I figured that out, my writing changed. I still vent, but then I try to follow through with processing the feelings a little. Sure enough, I usually walk away with a new seedling of an idea, or a possible theme to explore more.

When school started back in the fall, I quickly fell out of practice. I spent many weekends staring at my notebook, stacks of projects to be graded, and my couch. The couch and a YA book usually won the battle. Luckily, in November I found my way back to daily writing thanks to a group of dedicated friends. We met every Sunday and shared our ideas and writing progress. The talk around the process was vital for me. Being held accountable for getting things done, was necessary for me. That’s how I work.

After learning this about myself as I writer, I now set monthly goals for my writing. They often include dates to get storyboarding or character sketches done. Sometimes I meet the deadlines, other times I let them slide a little,   my writing is for fun. If (when?!) I start having deadlines handed down by the publishing powers that be, I know I’ll meet them, because that’s how I roll.

So I decided to tackle nanowrimo this year and try a novel in a month. The structure and the deadline is perfect for my work style. But in typical overachiever style, I didn’t want to wait until November. I was pleased to find Camp Nanowrimo. In both June and August, the nanowrimo people put on summer novel in a month projects. Yay!

But, again, why wait? Since I’ve never done a novel in a month, or even written thousands of words everyday. So I’m starting my own personal nanowrimo project for the month of May. I’m planning to write everyday and keep track of word count, but mostly, I’m trying to build my writing stamina and focus. I want to be able to sit down and write and write and write when I have a brainstorm, rather than start and stop like I do now. I want to write as a brain dump and then work to revise and redraft after putting ideas on paper.

So, happy writing to me on day one of Amanowrimo!