When I decided to take a break from blogging for the month of April, I was so excited to have that little bit of extra time to devote to revising and adding words to my novel. My only deadline from day-to-day would be reaching that 1,000 word count goal by midnight.
But here’s the honest truth: it takes me, on average, one hour to write 1,000 words. That means that I was only spending one hour out of the day writing. Only one hour. And yet, I dreaded my writing sessions and the accompanying feelings of doubt, fear, and frustration. Most days, I would spend the whole day actively avoiding my writing, working on anything and everything else, and then start writing at 8pm, 9pm, even 10pm to get my 1,000 words in before the day was considered over.
And here’s what I learned from that: I like to feel like a rebel when I write. If you know me at all, you’re probably laughing at the idea of me calling myself a rebel. It’s okay, I’m laughing a bit too. But there’s something about writing that has always felt rebellious to me, even, at times, secret, or sneaky. During NaNoWriMo, I was working and blogging, and although my writing wasn’t secret – I needed it to be public for accountability reasons – I still had an exciting feeling of living a double life. I would sneak off to the local Starbucks before work and write until the last possible minute, and walk into work with lingering lines of dialogue floating through my mind.
Cutting out blogging from my daily routine, in a way, made writing harder for me. All of a sudden, writing became my full time job and lost all of its charm. Or, as J.D. Salinger puts it in Franny & Zooey: “the old horror of being a professional writer, and the usual stench of words that goes with it, is beginning to drive me out of my seat.”
One of the biggest things I learned during Camp NaNoWriMo is that I want to embrace and cultivate a creative balance. I want to be a rebel writer again. I want to be that girl in the coffee shop typing furiously to get all her thoughts out on paper before she has to rush to the next event or start the next project. I want to be a blogger one day, a writer the next, and a planner girl/amateur watercolor letterer/interior decorator/anything I want to be the day after that. I want writing to be the thing I look forward to working into my day, instead of the thing I dread the entire day.
Although the act of writing itself was a bit frustrating this month, I still learned so much about my writing process, made real connections with other writers, and made progress on my draft – all because of Camp NaNoWriMo. Sometimes, the hardest thing about writing is making yourself sit down and do it, and I have to thank NaNoWriMo for creating a community that encourages each other to do just that.
I’m a strong believer that everything you write has value, and every time you sit down to write you’re making yourself a better writer. And because of that, I consider my Camp NaNoWriMo experience a success.
Did you miss my Letters from Camp NaNoWriMo? Click the links below to read my updates, including excerpts! And be sure to sign up for BrightMail HERE so you don’t miss any fun mail like this in the future!