On Using NaNoWriMo as Intended

Welcome to the dawn of day four (of NaNoWriMo), and a new liveblogger! (Not new. You know me. I’ve been here forever.) Since you haven’t met my novel yet, let me start you off there:

NaNoWriMo 2015, "The Departed Daugther," Ashley Hill

I just really wanted to write about twilight sleep.

There are a lot of things to say about the challenges of writing a story set in 1914 in a city I’ve never visited, but I think we’ll come to that next week. This week, let’s talk about what I really hope to get from this month.

My goal this year has been developing a less frantic process, and that really culminates for me here during NaNo. In years past, I’d write and write and write until I was exhausted — and I’d be fried by the end of November. I wouldn’t work on anything for months, and tended to spend the rest of year poking my writing at a plodding pace. I’d say I had no ideas, and just resign myself to only being a NaNoWriMo writer.

Two things are different about this year for me.

The first was that I submitted a short story to a magazine and subsequently had my first short story published this summer. While I didn’t instantaneously become Ashley M. Hill, Extremely Serious Author, I did find myself thinking, Hey, maybe people could actually like what I write. So I’ve started to be tiny amount more serious with myself.

The second was that I started keeping a checklist of my ideas when I had them. I use Google Keep, so that I have one note that is my checklist, and then write any additional notes in a different note when necessary. And as it turns out, I have a lot of ideas. They’re not all novel ideas, but they’re all stories to be told.

I just have to get into the habit of telling them.

So this year I’m working on writing to a logical stopping point, and then stopping when it feels right. Instead of forcing myself to keep going further and harder, I save my progress, log my word count, and do one of the many other tasks that fill my evenings. I have a lot of things to do with my day-to-day life. I have to make sure my son is taken care of half of the time. I need to meet my other, non-writing goals. Sometimes I want to read. My boyfriend recently bought me Don’t Starve for the PS3, and I need time to enjoy that.

If I can do all of that stuff and only lose my mind once in a while, I can also find time to write.

The teal deer version — I’m doing with NaNoWriMo this year what Chris Baty intended: finding out how being a writer can fit into my life filled with social stuff, family stuff, and a day job.

(P.S. My stats are fine, if unremarkable. I ended day one with a buffer, and have written ~1600 words each day since, so I’m staying just ahead of the curve. I’m usually at about 1.25 par for the day.)

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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