I was a born writer. I devoured books at a typically precocious age. I ran off to the woods and wrote poetry when most kids weren’t allowed out alone. I wrote and wrote all through school, through high school. I have folders full of writing, including one novelesque attempt.
But then I graduated. I started having kids. Work and kids and life happened and somewhere along the way I stopped writing. It seeps out of you, if you’re a born writer. Christmas cards with poems and beautiful letters. Company newsletters that are lovingly crafted.
18 years after I finished high school. That’s how long I waited to take an online college course on creative writing. That’s how long it took to get back to my heart. Why did I wait so long, why did I waste so much time? I still don’t know. But I know that writing is where I’ve always been, this whole time. I have a confidence I have in nothing else. That I will keep doing it until it’s good. That it will be good.
I tried Camp NaNoWriMo last year. I failed in a flaming poo kind of way. I didn’t even pretend to try the legit NaNoWriMo.
A lot of things about NaNoWriMo just don’t work for me. If you have nifty things like a life, kidlets, serving on the board at your local homeless shelter (send them money!), or a really exciting hobby, NaNo isn’t realistic. We don’t all have the privilege of big chunks of time.
But. That doesn’t mean you can’t set aside some concentrated time to work. You can use the time you have available. Predraft while you’re doing dishes. Dictate into your phone on the morning commute. Squeeze an hour after the kids go to bed. My daughter writes on her phone using Google Docs between classes and gets 1,000 words a day.
I have been writing short stories for about a year now. I started a couple bigger projects, but got bogged down when they went too dark and I felt like I shouldn’t continue. I set those aside.
Read a flash piece that is backstory for my WIP – Death by Fruit.
But this one. This is the one I’m going to finish. Even if it sucks at the end, finishing a first draft is a step every author takes. Maybe I’ll just have to turn around and first draft something else. I’m learning a lot along the way. I’m learning about myself, I’m learning about the writing process. I’m learning how to be patient while I learn. And February, this February is when I’m going to put in my concerted effort. The TV will take a nap, the lunch dates will have to wait. I’m writing.
So how am I doing FebNoWriMo, with my 68 kidlets and three jobs? (I’m lying. It’s 4 kids.)
I got my squirrels in a row:
I made a bullet journal in Evernote for pesky responsibilities.
I got my stare-at-the-wall-and-think all pretty.
I predrafted (I’m still predrafting shhhh).
I set up Scrivener* with my ridiculous amount of freewriting and my story bible.
I have a stack of dump slow cooker meals in the freezer.
I bought 80 months worth of school snacks so I don’t have to go to the store ever again.
I watched all the important stuff on the DVR.
I warned people I would be MIA.
I scheduled fun in there so I don’t lose my mind.
I committed to walking religiously.
One thing I did before attempting this first draft was take some time to learn what works for me. Which is: zero conventional writing advice. My personality type is un-mainstream, what works for most people stifles me. I am one of the most FEELING personalities. I feel all the feels, I intuit all the intuits. I care about people and characters, I don’t give a hoot about your silly logic.
I learned that I don’t get plot, that I have to find plot through my characters. My characters come to me as really real people, if I let them they will tell me the plot. But this requires a ton of freewriting and about a million years of predrafting.
Learning these things, and what does work for me, was a tough row to hoe. The minute you tell someone you’re a writer they think you’ll have a paperback out next month. I haven’t written anything longer than 11,000 words since high school. I am now ancient. This whole thing is a leap into scary dark unknowns.
But we can do it. You, and me, and my chocolate stash drawer. You can’t be an author if all you leave behind is a work-in-progress graveyard. You have to finish that sucker. All those shiny new ideas get a Note, and then back to the WIP. Back to that beautiful novel you’re writing!
Journaling gem: "You can’t be an author if all you leave behind is a work-in-progress graveyard."
— M. D. Flyn (@mdflynwriter) January 29, 2017
Check our my spiffy backwards word count goal tracker – Decaying Word Count Tracker Spreadsheet
*That’s an affiliate link. For giggles. And profit.