Right now, I should be “NaNo-ing”, or writing the blog post that I planned on writing and publishing yesterday but never did because I was “NaNo-ing”.
“Blogging 101” teaches you that you must always think of your reader — identify how you can help, what pain you can ease for them. Funnily enough, my planned post was going to be all about pain, the one in your neck, or your back, or your hand, from all of those hours writing as quickly and intensely as possible to meet your daily word quota for NaNoWriMo.
Mourning in the Dark
However, this morning I woke up with a different kind of pain, so I’m going to take something else from the pages of “Blogging 101”—be vulnerable. Here it is: it wasn’t just dark outside when I opened my eyes, it was dark deep down in my writer’s soul.
It’s one thing to talk about writer’s doubt when you’re not doubting. You can wax poetic, be inspiring and even a little funny while you write lists of all the things your reader can do to feel better. You can even make it sound easy, which will either help your reader, or make them feel even worse because they don’t find it easy and therefore something must be wrong with them.
But I’m going to write about it while I’m in it. And just so we’re clear, I’m not wallowing. I’m sharing this so that you will know that you are not alone in the dark, today or on any day in which you feel that nasty stuff creeping in.
Conclusion: 3,000 Words/Day is Not For Me
NaNoWriMo started on a Saturday. For me, and maybe for a lot of people, the weekends are not the best time for me to work. My husband and I are home together and, quite frankly, we like each other’s company. I don’t like to shut myself away from him; it just doesn’t feel right and I did it enough when I was teaching high school and had 90 papers to mark.
And then, after that, I spent a day helping a writing student. Again, I didn’t NaNo.
But I figured I was okay. I could easily catch up by writing 3,000 words a day. (Based on a daily practice, you can win if you write 1,667 words a day.)
There’s a reason why Hemingway wrote between 500 and 1000 words per day, and why many other writers aim for 1,500 – 2,000 words, in a session that is uninterrupted over several hours. (I looked it up this morning seeking solace.) While it may look like it requires very little in the way of stamina (all we’re doing is sitting, right?), it’s exhausting!
I admire writers like Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and JF Penn. They really produce and have managed to build a lucrative business not only writing, but also by showing others how they do it. I often read their advice and watch what they do and wish that I could be them. (I know, it’s not healthy, but it’s honest.)
Even as a young child, I didn’t do well if I was tired. This morning, I woke up tired and with that came the DOUBT (yes, it was that BIG). That’s when the “nevers” kick in and they sort of sound like whining … “I’ll never be able to do what ‘they’ do”, or “I really am too old to start doing this now”.
I’m not sure if I just have less stamina than others but, what ever the reason, 3,000 words a day is too much for me and I need to be okay with that. Will I have some brilliant days when I can write that, and more? Probably. But pushing to do it every day? No thanks.
What’s the point in pushing if you end up crashing? Your writing becomes a roller coaster ride or a house built on the sand.
And then I opened my email
I don’t know for sure if it’s magical, or if God or The Universe or the angels feel my pain and reach out to help me, but there are times when messages arrive in the most wonderful of ways, saying just what I need, and coming right on time.
Maybe we just need to have enough faith to keep our eyes open so that we can see the messages when they arrive.
The first one came from Pat Cummings, a writer I’m connected to on Google+. He was promoting his new book, My Social Calendar 2014-2015: A Calendar of Quotations to Share and Ponder. I went and looked; I’m a sucker for shareable and ponderable quotes. When I stopped flipping the pages, here is where my eyes landed:
“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” – William James
Okay, I thought. I can use that. I just need to keep going and my second wind will sweep in at any moment. My energy will amaze me.
I was starting to feel better — thank you Pat Cummings and William James.
The moment I cried
I get quotes in my email every morning from a site called Advice to Writers. (I highly recommend it if you’re a quote collector.) It feeds my hunger for quotables and they’re usually short and sweet.
After William James, I went back to my Inbox and there it was, a subject line, center screen, in bold letters: “It’s Never Too Late”. When I’m tired, I get emotional, and this touched me. A tear really came to my eye.
You have to admit, having just launched a blog as the “never-too-late evangelist”, the timing alone is pretty cool. Never mind that I was also having a bad morning and feeling “too late”.
Here’s what Elizabeth Gilbert had to say:
“Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where — if you missed it by age 19 — you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world — at any age. At least try.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“At least try.” Around two hours ago, upon reading that, I started writing. You’re reading the result.
My hope is, when ever or how ever this lands on your computer screen, that it comes to you in the most wonderful of ways, just what you need, and right on time.