NaNoWriMo Reflections

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

November 29, 2017

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Categories: The Balancing Act

This is the first printed copy of my “manuscript”, hand delivered to my friend for the first set of feedback.

It took me about 3 weeks, total, to write over 50,000 words. I think this story has been brewing for more than twenty years. I will work on owning the identifier “writer” to the list of labels I hold dear. I joined a few groups, and I enjoyed matching my progress to a new set of peers. I was not the first one to finish, but I was one of the first. This story, this story that has been brewing, it was relatively easy to tell.

I very much enjoyed this writing process that wasn’t an essay, struggling to combine words into a poem, researching a subject I care about or not, or writing an opinion on things I really don’t care about. I wrote this for me. I wrote this with the hope that this story can inspire others to make a change. I wrote this story because my inner-self needed to tell it.

It is deeply personal, and it is fictionalized. I wrote about what I know, I tried to use dialogue to explain things, and I just closed my eyes and wrote what I saw. I was surprised when my characters said or did things I never imagined. I was surprised how I ended the story, as this was a 180-degree change from what I imagined 5 months ago when I received the idea. I was overjoyed to simply carve space to write. This was perhaps my most favorite thing. I blocked my days. I created an auto-responder for my email. I only allowed a few appointments in my month. My job, every day, was to write. I even completed the only tracker I have ever completed in my bullet journal – a  two-page spread tracking my progress in writing. This was the best job I have ever had: writing about something I wanted to write about, nearly every day.

I did not write every day. I didn’t even write my morning pages every day, though I wrote my morning pages more than my novel. I added a yoga practice and another consult to coaching what I should be doing with my life. In this consult, it was read that I should be writing before I told her I was writing.

I did write on days not previously scheduled to write. When I created my trackers, I thought about the ebbs and flows of my days and normal interruptions. I blocked out days typically for family time, giving myself no obligation to write on those days. I adjusted my daily goals for all the other days, leaving a rough daily goal of 2,500 words. This was to accomplish the set goal of 50,000 words by November 30.

On the first day of writing, and I did wait until November 1, I wrote 2,698 words. I waited to write more, because five months previous when I received the idea, I wrote a quick scene that was 494 words. The total for November 1, then, was 3,190 words. I was on my way, immediately, to reach my goal.

I used and fell in love with Scrivener to write and organize my novel. I am eagerly awaiting a special code that will gift me a substantial discount when I purchase my license, upgrading from the trial version I so enjoyed. I watched the official website and Scrivener estimate how much I needed to write per day to reach my goal and what my supposed end date would be. I finished on Saturday, November 25, 5 days ahead of schedule, though not the earliest predicted date.

I have been working on building aspects of my small business for over two years now with mixed success. That is, I have had some incredible fortune and incredible wins. And, I have had things that set me back and goals I did not reach. I have set so many goals over the last two years, some easy, some far-reaching, and missing so many of those goals. It was a blessing to set a goal where the ONLY factor was ME in reaching the goal. I wasn’t dependent on someone saying “yes” or “no”. I was only dependent on ME showing up, typing up what I saw in my head, and plugging away. That was perhaps the best feeling of this last month. Setting a goal I had no idea if I’d reach or not, and then realizing how easy it was and reaching it 5 days before the deadline.

I’m sure there are lessons to take back to my self-employment. I will save those for another day.

I hope I can find ways to write, and get paid. I hope that my novel makes sense. I hope the message isn’t too fluffy. I hope I ventured just enough into the dark side of thinking that it helps normalize all our emotions. I hope the emotional content I tried to share is relatable, believable, and compassion inspiring.

Terrified, I handed over the first copy today, for feedback. I eagerly await the response. Two more copies are scheduled to be delivered this week. I am thankful for this safety net of support where I can share this story and garner gentle feedback before I decide, “What’s next?”

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