What NaNoWriMo Taught Me


I always grumbled about NaNoWriMo being in November. What a shitty month to commit to completing a 50,000-word novel! It’s during the crazy sprint to the end of the year. Why couldn’t they have it in February, when no one is doing anything? I am not a novelist, I write screenplays and flash pieces, but I still couldn’t imagine being under the gun like that. But this year, the idea of writing a new flash piece every day seemed like the enticing shake-up that I needed. I dove in. I’m now about three-quarters of the way through PoFlaWriMo, a moniker a friend and I came up with meaning “Portland Flash Writing Month.”

The Drone Still Dreams

Since I started my more-than-full-time job in February, I didn’t just burn the candle at both ends, I was a neglected Scentsy. A big puddle of wax that lost all scent long ago and yet still roasted away. I would come home after a stressful, busy day – and they are all that way – and I had nothing left. I was a brain-dead, empty shell. Any spark of creativity had been beaten out of me by a day in corporate America, so how was I supposed to come home, shove (a healthy, homemade) dinner in my mouth and then jump back in front of a computer and be brilliant? It was not a realistic expectation. I was still able to generate sparks on weekends, but I missed that daily routine I cultivated during my years working part-time and then being unemployed. It seemed that while working my insane job, nothing could bring back productivity on weeknights.

Digging Deeper

I decided to dig in and commit myself to writing every day before work. Yes, I would be tired, but I would give it a try because I was desperate to carve out some writing time where I would not be physically and spiritually depleted by a day at work. To my surprise, the early morning hours have proved to be magic. Turning on my computer with the residue of my nightly vivid dreamscapes in my head gives me freedom and speed to improvise, sketch and play. It’s now my writing time going forward, a complete retooling of my schedule that works.

Back on the Wagon

And that is also why, during this busiest of months, I’m getting back here, to my woefully neglected blog. I think about it all the time, but the pressure to build a monument worthy of the permanence of the web was making me shy away from posting at all. But not today, as I write freely, giving myself to these hours. This month has helped me on the perpetual quest to silence that editor in the writing’s nascent stages. The goal is just to write, and I give myself permission to write some truly awful stuff. I can’t edit if I don’t have a rough draft in the first place.

Making the Best of Our Reality

While many of us writers would like to give our day jobs the final kiss-off, the fact of the matter is that having the two — or more – jobs, the paid and the unpaid, is our reality as it stands now. This PoFlaWriMo challenge helped me realize that if I can pull this off in November, I can do it anytime. I make a way because I have the will. I look my fears in the face. Yes, I am tired getting up around 4:00 every morning and I am scared that only total crap will come off my fingertips. But I work through the fatigue and I pan some gold from the river of mediocre to horrid. I’m now looking forward to recreating this mad challenge in February.

Will you join me then?

2 responses to “What NaNoWriMo Taught Me

  1. I know what you mean! For the past two years I’ve had a difficult work schedule and my writing output has fallen off dramatically. I always felt my most creative in the early morning hours, and I’d not been able to write then for a long time. However, my schedule is changing in a few weeks and I’ll be able to become a morning person again. Writing will be the first order of the day! Yay! 😀


  2. I know what you mean, Patricia! It was easier in a lot of way to NOT be on the regular 8-5, M-F schedule. Now I feel I just work all the time, when I used to have mornings. But we all do what we can and try to forgive ourselves our imperfections. : )


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