Morphing: from coal to diamond?
It’s 6:11am on a Monday morning and here I am for the second week in a row, watching the world wake from my desk. It is all part of me re-thinking the way I approach writing, editing and publishing.
Last year, in addition to reaching the 50,000 word target to NaNo, I decided I wanted to establish a sustainable work ethic for my writing. It turned out, that was the last thing I learnt anything about, much less established. This year I went in with the opposite plan… I just wanted to write. In fact, I spent two weeks travelling through Malaysia and the only thoughts from home I took with me were fantastical day dreams of a month devoted to writing… where business could just, well, you know, take a back seat for thirty days.
Things change, and as I have discovered, they change quite quickly and you have to be malleable, adaptable and willing to run the gauntlet at the drop of a hat (thankfully I never wear high heels!)
I could have decided NaNo could wait with the business developments of the past week, but I didn’t. Instead I decided there was a time and a place for everything which needed to be done and for the first time this year I’ve made a decisive effort to put the jigsaw pieces of my life together in a meaningful way (rather than deciding all that blue sky was just too hard.)
It sometimes means working to a relentless schedule which drags me out of bed earlier than I want to be out (I’m talking 5am, which used to only ever be a good time to go to bed after a rocking night out). But it sometimes means letting go and taking advantage of circumstances as they present themselves (walking away from the computer Saturday night when our son amazingly went to sleep earlier than he has done in at least four years and my partner and I were able to spend the night together watching movies.)
For most of the year I’ve been a workaholic, not one who hasn’t always worked as productively or as effectively as need be. And this workaholism (or an addiction to busyness) has meant I don’t allow myself to turn off and have fun, or to give myself the time to devote to my family or to my writing. Anything unrelated to business had had to take a back seat.
Yes, I could beat myself up about it but I won’t.
You take the lessons, hopefully grok something from them and do your best to make improvements as you go. And as such November will be the litmus test of how to keep writing going and business ticking away, as work most unusual. So while it’s officially week three (and I have no idea what week that means – last week seemed to just be the week everyone hated their stories!) it’s week two for me on my new regime, as I work hard to make the pieces of my life fit together.
Am I succeeding? I don’t know, success of any kind is such a slippery beast, not to mention subjective at best. I know I have almost 30,000 of a novel-in-progress I’m still desperately in love with and on target to deliver, I’ve taken care of my needs when I haven’t been well (which meant saying no to everything for two days and screaming inside why this week?), I’ve edited – perhaps a little slower than normal, I’ve read my son a story every night and I’ve helped to broker a brand new phase of our business… in between struggling to go to bed at a sensible hour and rise at a less than sensible one.
Transitions are always difficult, yet this one seems much less painful than any of the others I’ve done in the past six years. Perhaps I’m over due for this new path and a lot of the hard work has already been completed?
November makes you tougher and I’m glad for it. These are the changes to routine I should have made at the start of the year, but the pressure cooker of NaNo is what is truly bringing them about (watch me morph from coal into a diamond in just thirty days!) Win, lose or whatever lays between… this will be my most wonderful NaNo experience yet, because I’ve learnt one very important lesson: if I’m writing, I’m happy and everything else WILL fall into place.
What tough lessons have you learnt through your NaNo experiences, past or present?