NaNoWriMo2015 Journal

zOMG I Need A Plan!

#NaNoWriMo LOG: DAY 06 (A 1st Timer's Journey) 
I woke with ease today. That was nice. We’ve flipped the heat on for the Winter months so the house is not too cold to get out of bed into. I have one of those gas fireplaces so I've been using that each morning, mostly to make like I'm a real writer with some cool writer-esque ambiance.

I’ve been working through this challenge so far as a mostly-pantster. For those unfamiliar, a “pantster" is someone who doesn’t plan, but rather flies by the seat of their pants through the project. I like the idea of piloting pants. 

I knew 50,000 words was a lot and I did walk into this challenge with a basic outline to ignite my thoughts.  I imagined it would see me through well enough, but the scary thing is I’m only at 16,005 words and I have hit every one of my outline headers already. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough for 30 days worth of writing, it's very clear now that I do not.
I’m realizing I need to spend some time today setting myself up to succeed the rest of the way through this challenge. And after I just wrote a journal post called “Planning is for the Birds” - HA!

I’m sticking with my “keep it simple” approach. I know editing is not part of this, but my goal today will be to go back through what I’ve written so far, and add sub-headers and trigger points that I can elaborate on, hopefully for the duration of the challenge. I need a small piece of “word kindling” to get my brain ignited each morning. That's my project for some time today, create word-kindling. Once I start typing, rambling on and on for about an hour, hour-and-a-half flows pretty well, which brings me in right around the 1667-2000 word range.

The unknowns can be a little daunting, but I’ll take what I do know about myself and how I work to give it my very best shot. I am hungrier now to finish this than I’ve ever been in all the years of simply wanting to participate. Actually DOING it is a whole new level of energy and it's AMAZING.

I got stuck today, I used that moment to get up, walk around the kitchen for a few minutes, drink some water, make my coffee, clean up my spilled water, and sit down and continue on for a bit longer. I avoided checking email and social media today. Yesterday when I did that it took my brain into directions best saved for after NaNoWriMo time.

Anyone else have any struggle points yet? What are you working through and HOW are you working through it?

Today's stats: 
Started writing at 4:40a
Got stuck at 5:13a (1511 words)
Stopped writing at 5:51a (1975 words)

Started this daily journal post
Decided I was too close to 2000 words to stop, went back and wrote a bit more.
Actually stopped writing at 6:25a

2353 words today, current total 16,005
(holy macaroni, you guys!)
 

Planning is for the Birds

nanowrimo_day05.png

#NaNoWriMo LOG: DAY 05 (A 1st Timer's Journey) 
In a non-NaNoWriMo month, I love using the hours between 5:30a - 7:30a Pacific as prime time to get some client/coaching work done. Most of my clients right now are conveniently located in the East Coast time zone, so it just makes sense to be more aligned with their schedules, and it keeps my Pacific time zone afternoons more flexible. When the house is quiet, I get tons done. As a first-time NaNoWriMo-er, I decided waking-up one hour earlier to allow time for my writing seemed like a good place to start. For four days this approach has proven smooth sailing. 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Occasionally my six-year-old daughter Zia likes to be awake when I'm awake. Today was one of those days. It isn't so much that I need literal silence as I need the ability to not be interrupted. Zia is not so good at silence or not interrupting. She wants hugs, she has stories to tell, even when she is off doing things by herself, she’s singing and giggling. It’s adorable and I love it, but it definitely makes focusing a bit of a challenge. 

It’s days like today that remind me that planning is for the birds. If planning works for you, I don’t mean to slam that. That’s awesome, you crazy, efficient bird! For me, I had to let go of the planning mindset a long time ago because I found that when things didn’t go as planned, it stressed me out. When I let go of the plan, I let go of the stress. Freedom! Instead, I make my list of three things and I do the best I can to get those three things done during life as it happens throughout the day. This is as close as I want to get to planning, anymore. There’s no separation of work and life. There are goals and objectives but no single approach that will get us there. I love my work, it is a beat in the pulse of my life. As are my kids, my cats, my writing and my conversations with the man I love. 

Despite the variance of today’s rhythm, I did great on my word count today. 

Today's stats: 
Started writing at 4:36a
Zia visit #1 at 4:50a
Zia visit #2 at 5:12a
Stopped writing at 5:48a

2087 words today, current total 13,652

yesssssssssss!

Fear, my friend, we are doing this.

#NaNoWriMo LOG: DAY 04 (A 1st Timer's Journey)
Today was a little bit more of a squeeze to get the words out. The first thousand words came fairly fluidly, but the second thousand were broken into smaller bursts. I checked email at one point, needed a restroom break a few minutes later. Sat back down, entered my words into the "verifier" and was 200 short of 1667. So I belted more out and ended up coming in a bit over. Thank goodness! I have a lot of concerns running through my brain right now about the days ahead. Here's what some of those look like:

"Do I actually have enough ideas to put 50,000 words worth of them into this book concept?"
"If it's this hard to squeeze words out on DAY 04, what is DAY 10 going to feel like?" 
"Holy crap, what did I sign myself up for?"

In good news, every time I think out a concern, a tiny voice even further back in my head calmly states stuff like, 
"It's fine. Stop thinking so much, just write words. You can sort it out later."
"Better to have way too many useless words to edit away later than not enough."
"You're really adding a lot of clarity to some of these ideas, keep doing that."

All this is good and sort of funny. Funny how fears can work to seize us up if we allow them. Fear can be such a bully sometimes. I know that fear is hardwired into our systems, and with that I understand that I'm not trying to overcome fear so much as I'm trying to bring fear along for the ride.

Fear, my friend, we are doing this. 

Today's stats: 
Started writing at 4:40
Stopped writing at 6:01
2042 words, bringing my current total to 11,565

\o/

A Project Within A Project

#NaNoWriMo LOG: DAY 03 (A 1st Timer's Journey)
I woke around 4:05a and tried to force myself back to sleep until my 4:30a alarm went off. I couldn't go back to sleep because my mind immediately started churning on what I would write today. I stayed in bed with my eyes closed, thinking, until the alarm informed me it was time to move. I noticed a little less spring in my step this morning, slightly less enthusiasm now that the adrenaline of the initial kickoff is officially over, but my mind and my heart are still really, really IN THIS. (!!!)

I considered this may come up when I wrote my Day 02 journal post yesterday, and since it DID come up on Twitter let's address it. ;)
Question:
Are you counting these journal posts in your daily NaNoWriMo word count?

Answer:
No. These posts are completely separate from my daily word-count and have actually turned into a project-within-a-project that I'm rather enjoying. Part of my personal journey here is to chronical my experience carefully, and I'm including a daily self-portrait (are these just called "selfies" now?) with each post. 
I feel it's important to capture a photo of my environment in addition to the brief journal post for the sake of memory. I will be traveling throughout the month and when I look back on this experience, I don't want to forget the details and locations because they are factors that may contribute to or hinder my success. I don't know which but I'm leaning toward success. ;)
I thought about doing a daily YouTube post, but that's not where my heart is on this challenge. I may end up doing a weekly post there, we'll see. I also don't want to overwhelm myself (or the good people following along) with too much stuff. 

Today's stats:
I started writing at 4:36a and stopped at 5:57a, 2327 words today bringing my total word count to 9523. When I saw I was so close to 10,000 I tried squeezing more words out for my project, but I couldn't find any more for today. I still exceeded the daily goal of 1667 words, which puts a few more words in the bank, should I need them later on in the month.
I'll take it! \o/

 

#NaNoWriMo LOG: DAY 02

After a really strong start yesterday (5199 words!), I woke up excited to see if I could hit the goal 1667 words today. I admit that in the very back of my mind I doubted myself a bit. I even worried that I'd fall back immediately on the head start I gave myself yesterday and use up my "word bank". I have a good deal of travel coming up this month for conference-speaking and I know I will need to tap those extra words to keep on track, I worry about using them up on laziness or just because they're there.
I woke at 4:30a, started writing around 4:40a after throwing on a cozy sweater and filling my water jar. I stopped around 6:05a to prepare (shower/dress/make coffee) for a 6:30a work call.

My kids are home from school today, so they're sleeping in beyond their normal 7a wake time, so I feel really lucky in the small break outside the normal daily routine of getting everyone ready for school. I feel like I'm able to ease into this challenge a bit more gracefully than I might if things were as bustling as normal.

I get the question A LOT: "Why 4:30a?"
Last year after a bunch of back-to-back travel to the East Coast - to Ireland - to East Coast, my body clock seemed to adjust on its own, waking automatically at 4:30a every day (occasionally 10-20 minutes earlier.) I decided to roll with it and make use of that time. When Daylight Savings Time went into effect, 4:30a became mostly 5:30a. So again, I rolled with it. Now we're back at 4:30, so far so good. It becomes tricky when I travel, but I tend to take it as it comes and do the best I can to maintain a rhythm.

I do these early morning hours because I know if I don't the day will slip away and before I know it'll be bedtime, and I'll be exhausted. I absolutely have days, especially in the Fall and Winter months, when the air outside my covers is cold and intimidating, days when my eyes and my brain want nothing more than 15 more minutes of sleep. Right now I'm surfing the wave of adrenaline and sheer delight for being a part of a challenge that has dangled just beyond my grasp for so many years. Right now I'm owning my time and filling it with something that makes me smile so hard inside I feel like my outer shell might explode right off my skeleton.

In my 1 hr 25-minute time window today, I wrote 1977 words today. I feel AMAZING! 

IT'S OFFICIAL!

I am officially a 2015 NaNoWriMo participant. \o/
National Novel Writing Month: 50,000 words, 30 days, No excuses.

NaNoWriMo Log - Day One: 
I woke at 4:30a Pacific Time. Thank the heavens for the end of daylight savings time, my normal 5:30a wake time instantly became 4:30a. My body didn't even notice the difference. Last year that worked out for me from Nov-March, hoping it does again. The kids - still asleep from a late night of Trick-or-Treating and a celebratory "stay-up-late night". A perfectly quiet morning, my writing spot sits at a window with a view of the rising sun. Fireplace going. Coffee in hand. Conditions for day one somehow worked out to be ridiculously perfect. I finally STARTED after four years of putting it off. A great reminder that challenges should totally feel this exciting every time.

I wrote with all the fire and fury of a well-caffeinated, super-charged machine. My brain and my fingers were unstoppable until 6:18a. I know I won't have this large or perfect a time window every day, so I made the most of it while it was there. I exceeded the 1667 word goal by a lot, so the extra words go into "the bank" for the days I expect where the words don't flow out of my typing fingertips as fluidly as they did today.

In this moment, I feel so, so grateful.

Special thanks to @Archimage (NaNoWriMo-er since 2009) for your encouragement, experience and guidance as I step into this amazing journey. Best advice ever: "One word at a time."

Good luck to all embarking on this mad-awesome challenge! 

T-MINUS 15 HOURS

I learned about NaNoWriMo in 2011, and every year since I found myself backing out of participation because of various life circumstances. This year as I’ve eased up to the official start date of Nov 1 fully committed to participate, I’ve found my fear trying to pave the usual excuse-path to bail out, rather than start knowing I’ll fail.

No, I didn’t put as much planning and preparation into it as I’d hoped. But this year I WANT IT more than I ever have. So no, I don’t get to back out. Instead, I’ve got friends sending me messages of encouragement which help more than I ever imagined, and I’ve got a desire to DO that is greater than my concern for publicly failing.

As a source of inspiration, I looked back through one of my #30Days challenges (#TILfor30days) from more than a year ago. I’d like to share one that I find very applicable for anyone participating in #NaNoWriMo:

#TIL Day 29 of 30
(originally posted June 18, 2014)
Today I *think* I learned how to take Ray Bradbury’s advice. This is my longest #TIL post but I have to share some thoughts…
Work. Relax. Don’t Think.
 
Ray Bradbury gave me these words. Not in person, of course but through his succinct and charming little book, Zen and the Art of Writing. I love this book.
 
I’d forgotten about it sitting over there on my bookshelf gathering years of Las Vegas desert dust, until a conversation a few months ago with author Richard Bach. You’d think I’d have a better memory of the conversation details, but most of those have passed. What I do remember is, I was home, sick in bed but doing some remote work. During my call with Richard, he shared his story of the first time he’d met Ray Bradbury. His story inspired me so much that immediately upon the close of the call, I grabbed my copy of Zen… and gobbled it up, so to speak.
The result: INSPIRATION.
 
Just thinking back today, to the way I felt that day, revitalized that huge shot of inspiration I’d felt.
It inspired me to do just those things. Work. Because work creates a rhythm. And rhythm creates relaxation. Which results in more relaxation, which results in getting things done.
 
I’ve been practicing a lot of angles for productivity, self-improvement, self-reinvention, self-discovery and general well-being. Several things over the past year, in particular, have taken and other things, not so much. But today my friends, something clicked in a big way. Time will tell what that means exactly but right now, it feels pretty intense and clear.
Join me in getting out of our heads for a bit. Join me in finding a way, rather than an excuse.
 
Work. Relax. Don’t Think.
 

Given my geographic location and accounting for the forthcoming “Fall Back” time change, NaNoWriMo kicks off in less than 15 hours. The excuses have started piling up on why I haven't done as much as I'd hoped and I started to convince myself there’s no way I can pull it off this year, I should back out. 

With challenges like NaNoWriMo, I know that planning is a huge part of success. Can it be done flying by the seat of our pants? Sure! Is that the approach I'm likely to take? At this point... pretty much. I know that the less planning I do, the greater the odds of my failure. I also know I have what I have to work with. 

I want to plan more, yes, and the reality of the day-to-day is also staring me in the face. I know other people experience this stuff, too. Documenting it is a little embarrassing, to be honest. I want to roll up in here all “I got this” like. Not happening.

I have work, I am a mom. Those two realities and all the nuances in-between are 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week events. There’s a lot more nestled into every day and what I have to remember is to keep my head up when it comes to my NaNoWriMo challenge. I WANT THIS. I want it badly. I have to make time for the things I want because if I don’t, I’ll never experience the reach, the struggle or the reward of giving it a shot.  

I am not backing out. I am IN THIS!

*Big exhale*
Let’s Rock. \o/

 

I'M SCARED, BUT...

It’s been almost a full year of 1-month challenges for me. Tiny 30 or 31-day sprints (28 days in February) of things to push me outside my comfort zone and stimulate ideas and creativity in my lil’ ol' brain. It’s become something I love and look forward to every month. 

We’re very rapidly approaching NaNoWriMo month, which is one of those things I’ve been excusing myself out of since 2011 when I first learned about it. Last year instead of feeling guilty about it and waiting a full year to try again, I decided to start my own smaller challenges, to build up the muscle of taking on and completing challenges. NaNoWriMo still feels daunting and intimidating. I’m not ready for it at all but like most things in life, if we wait until we’re ready, it’ll never happen. 

Through my little monthly challenges I’ve learned a lot of really valuable lessons that I think may apply, especially in the department of mental preparation. The things my tiny challenges have taught me:

  1. I HAVE TIME
    I can make excuses why not to all day long. If I really, REALLY want to do something I do have the time, I simply need to make it happen and stop telling myself stories about why I can't.

    For me, waking up a little earlier than normal was the key. There are days when it’s really hard. To be perfectly honest, there are days when all the desire in the world to accomplish my thing is still not enough to peel me from the comfort of my cozy, warm bed. I miss days. I kick myself for missing days. I remember to celebrate the days I actually accomplished my goal. I start again. I seek the finish line. I cross it.

    New challenge. Rinse. Repeat.
     

  2. I AM GREAT AT STARTING
    Monthly challenges that are so small I can’t avoid them have helped me get really good at starting things. I’m no longer afraid to start. I’m starting things all over town. I’m not always super great at finishing, but the practice has certainly made me better at it. I’ve become pretty good at completing my monthly challenges. When I scale the challenge, sometimes I leave it hanging. Unfinished. A list of domain names. A 90% completed idea. I know that becoming an even better finisher is my next step. 
     

  3. I MIGHT FAIL
    Maybe I end up overwhelmed, or full of excuses. I’m scared I won’t finish. I’m scared that if I do “finish” I’ll end up with a pile of embarrassing, unshareable drivel. And you know what? I'm scared, but... I'm exhausted at being scared. For all the unknowns there is one very certain known: If I don’t do it now, I’ll never really know what it takes to start or to finish this challenge. 
     

  4. COMMUNITY SUPPORT IS WHERE IT’S AT
    If I’ve learned anything at all it's that there are a few people out there that have been huge supporters of my little challenges. To each and every one of you, I thank you so sincerely. Sometimes it feels like I can do it all on my own, maybe I can, but you make it better. You make it exciting. You hold me accountable and you encourage me to cross the finish line.
     

  5. DOING THINGS MAKES YOU BETTER AT OTHER THINGS
    Even though my focus for the smaller challenges has been wide and varied, it has electrified my creative juices. It’s almost like I have the opposite problem than I had before. When I had burnout, the thing that started me on this journey in the first place, I had very little desire to even live, let alone do productive things. I started with gratitude and it literally opened floodgates in my little brain and made me hungry to create more. The more I do in my small monthly experiments, the more doors of opportunity, the more ideas, the more excitement, and inspiration seem to flood in. That can get overwhelming too, but I’ll take that any day over what I felt during burnout. Because the more I experiment, the more I learn, and the more tools I have in my magical Mary Poppins bag of problem-solving skills. Those tools apply to every aspect of my life.

SO THEN…

All this is to say, I’m openly committing to participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I’ll begin on Nov. 1. 

I figure the best thing I can do is to document where I’m at, share what happens along the way, and follow up with how it went when I’m done. I land where I land. Most importantly, I need to remember I’m doing this for me. No matter where I land, I come out on the other side having learned something, who knows what that will be.

I’m doing a bit of planning now. I would love for anyone else interested in participating - go sign up at NaNoWriMo.org and "buddy" me, my username is: " jaimeejaimee". We can support and encourage each other, maybe even poke fun at each other’s excuses if we want to get silly. Let’s keep it fun! But let’s DO IT.

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Here are a couple of my favorite small challenges:
31days31people
Music Wormholes