This is going to be a ROW80 update and blog post combined in one. It's just easier to do it that way today since I am heading out to brunch with my best friend to hash out some major decisions I'm in the process of making in my life. I need to bounce some ideas off of her and I know she will help me find which direction I'm heading in, instead of flailing about.
First, I'll get my update out of the way on the ROW80 goals. I continue on target for the activity goal, 6 days of activity out of 7, on top of the 6 out of 7 before that! Woot! *pats myself on back* Sundays are my day off, and thankfully so, because my muscles are screaming for a little R & R. Though, I may sneak in some belly dancing later this afternoon--I'm trying to get this one move down and its driving me crazy. As for writing, I'm plodding along, but this part of the WIP is going slower than the first half. I think because the work has taken such a different turn than what I initially expected. I need to adapt the ending I had planned for the twists and turns the WIP has decided to go in. But…slow and steady wins the race right?
So with ROW80 going well, on to the next question that has been stirring in my head recently:
To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo…That is the Question…
I need to start off by giving a shout out to the blogger who got me thinking about this topic already, and the comments that followed . Em, over at Loves to Read, Wants to Write, has two posts on it. First she discusses whether she should, here: NaNoWriMo Dare I Try It? She then discusses her decision here, NaNo She Who Dares May Hopefully Win. Her questions and ultimate decision, and the comments that followed by myself and others from those two discussions, got me thinking about what my own decision would be this year.
Em states in her second post, towards the end, that "At best I will complete it, at worst I will do some writing on a new project." I have to agree with that statement 200%. However, if not for ROW80, I may not have. ROW80 for me has changed my thinking about what a "goal" is. For me, in the past, whenever I've set goals, and missed a day or a word count or a deadline, I felt guilty and beat myself up about it. All that results from that is me getting pissed off and frustrated, and usually giving up. What ROW80 has taught me though is to look at my goals differently--both when I set them AND as I trudge along the path to victory. ROW80 has helped me to see that it is okay to modify my goals along the way. After all, everyone has a life and things happen--things we can't stop or control and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. So when that happens, there is no sense in beating myself up about it. Instead I move on and do the best that I can the next day. Simply put, I've finally learned that it's okay if I don't hit every target exactly on mark and to cut myself some slack every once in awhile. It’s only taken 30 years, but hey, better to learn it late than not at all, right?
So all this talk of goals brings me to my next thought about writing in general. For me, all writing is good. I know that is a pretty broad statement, and I don't mean that all writing is like Pulitzer Prize winning good. Or even publish-able good. What I mean is, that all writing is good in the sense that it teaches us something. Even if it teaches us how not to do something, it is still teaching SOMETHING.
What I'm trying to say is that any writing teaches, whether someone is a student, a writer, or whoever. I mean, for me, I know that I am constantly fine tuning my writing, making changes and learning new and different techniques to keep what I'm writing fresh and interesting. But I am also learning from the mistakes I've made. In fact, I sometimes think I make more mistakes than anything else, but I also learn from them. Whether it's how to use, or not use, a comma or a dreaded semi-colon (I hate semi-colons), or how to plot a story, write from one point of view or another, how NOT to set a scene (and oh I have so many of those!), or one of a hundred other things, it all gives us a little bit more knowledge about writing, the writing process, ourselves as writers and/or something about the story we are creating. Something that we maybe didn't have when we first set pen to paper, or cursor to computer screen.
So what does all of this clarity about goals and writing have to do with signing up to write 50K words in the month of November? Well, I've decided to take this new attitude with me to NaNoWriMo.
I will be embracing NaNoWriMo, but not with a fevered goal of "I must reach 50k words by November 30" because roughly translated in my mind that means, "Either hit the 50K word mark or it will all be a waste of time." That's what happened in 2009, and I gave up. Frustrated and annoyed that I missed daily word count deadlines, I just threw up my hands and let my WIP rot in its folder on my computer. In fact, it is still sitting there, waiting to be worked on and finally finished. So I'm not going down that road again. I'm going to look at this year's NaNoWriMo in a different light. This time, my attitude towards the challenge will be that I work on a new project for the month, continuing my new habit of writing every day. I hope I make 50K words, and of course that is the actual goal I will have. But in my mind, I am also okay with if I don't hit it exactly on target. I don't think that is lessoning the importance of the challenge either--or setting myself up to not reach the 50K word goal. I think instead it is practical and more in line with what I've learned from being in the ROW80 challenge thus far--goals, for me, have to be flexible or I fold at the first 'screw up'. After all, in the end, writing is writing and by the end of the challenge I will have learned something about myself or my writing, or perhaps both. And no matter the word count by November 30, I will have more than what I had on a new WIP on October 31. To me, that's accomplishment right there.