Today begins my month of madness. I have been doing National Novel Writing Month for years now (I want to say five, but not certain). I am crazy enough to have finished every year. I won't lie, it is hard, and there are definitely days that I don't want to write. I set my daily goal higher than the minimum...high enough that I can finish 5 days early, or have 5 days to slack off if I end up getting busy with other things. 2000 words a day doesn't sound like that much, or look like that much, but when you are trying to write with a goal in mind, sometimes it seems endless.
What really surprised me the first time I did it, and to a lesser extent every time since, is how having that 2k word goal a day not only pushes me to write, but pushes me to do other things too. As I have mentioned before, I am a stay at home mom. There are quite a few days where I really don't have anything specific I have to do. And this can be problematic for me. I kind of like having stuff to do, not just stuff I can be busy with, but a focused goal. Even goals I set for myself can be kind of set aside. It is easy to make excuses to one's self (though those are the worst excuses to make, trying to pull the wool over your own eyes is an exercise in futility).
I go through periods where nothing seems to appeal. I will find myself sitting and staring off at nothing, just trying to sort out what I want to do. I will turn to things that will distract the mind but that don't require much effort, such as TV or reading (what I call easy reading, things that don't require or encourage thought). Sometimes I can't even get myself motivated enough to do those.
When I have a project to work on, everything else seems to fade away. I can become consumed, and for me that is a good thing. It snowballs. One good project gets my mind fired up, and I seem to run in all directions at once. It brings it's own struggles, trying to stay focused enough on one thing to get something done can be a challenge.
NaNo (the short way of referring to National Novel Writing Month) was intimidating the first time I thought about it. Writing 50,000 words in one month. Even broken down, 2000 words today, it is big. Part of that scope is what makes it exhilarating. At the end of my words for the day I feel like I have done something. If I know I am going to have a busy day, and I push and get my words done, I feel even better.
And I find that the writing process sparks interest in many other things. I sometimes have to work to keep at the keyboard and finish my words because I'll get drawn into doing something else. I leave myself notes (I absolutely love having sticky notes as an application on my computer, there are little notes all over it somedays). Notes are a tiny extension of lists, of which I am also a huge fan. Lists help me get things done, and help me remember what I need to do when memory fails me. Lists help me organize. And much like breaking NaNo down into bite sized 2k word a day chunks, lists give a sense of accomplishment as each item is checked off and the list finally gets done.
This year I am really challenging myself. Every other year for NaNo, I have written fiction. I have written things that let me be crazy and go in whatever direction my mind leads. I don't judge my NaNo writing. I have written a novel that was more or less one long dream sequence. I wrote one that started out to be a vent against people who annoy me and ended up being a kind of random food description. My vampire novel spent pages exploring crazy technology I dreamed up. But this year, I am going non-fiction. I am going to write about my form of modern Paganism, which should prove challenging. I am always second guessing myself, when I write non-fiction, wanting to include more information, all the why's and how's and all those other questions that swarm around in my brain. I want things to be perfect, and I never feel like I am explaining myself well.
So here goes, my foray into non-fiction in a crazy month of writing. Wish me luck!