Runnin’ Down a Dream

Oh, man. It has been a busy week. You start a blog, can’t wait to keep writing and posting, and then it hits the fan (metaphorically, of course). You’re too busy to even think much about what to write next. Let alone actually get the words typed out. So, I guess the first hurdle in blog writing has been overcome—I’m finally tackling my sophomore post!

If I’ve been procrastinating blogging, you can guarantee I’ve also been procrastinating actually finishing the first draft of my novel. Did I mention I’m writing my first novel? My book was born from an idea I had almost three years ago now. Back in April of 2016, a book idea came upon me suddenly. (Maybe in the shower—that’s where most of my crazy ideas hit me.) I had to stop everything I was doing (studying and impending graduation be darned!) and commit myself to writing several thousand words of my very first novel attempt.

Maybe a week or so later, I made some edits, and added more words to make the total count somewhere over 9,000. Life got busy, but I didn’t lose hope or inspiration right away. In fact, I even got an idea for a second novel that I was perhaps just as excited about! I wrote several thousand words in that novel while I was flooded with ideas for plot, characters, and dialogue. Then that’s where the productivity ended.

I started a new, very busy career, and I just didn’t have the time or headspace to commit to any creative energy. This lasted for two and a half years since my initial work on the first novel began. In that time, I made a job change, moved to a different state, and finally regained a sense of work-life balance. 

Finally my mind felt ready to reincorporate some productive free time into my life again (instead of just shutting my tired brain off in a mini Netflix binge—although there’s always a time and place for a good Netflix binge). I gradually became more and more invested in getting involved in NaNoWriMo, as a way to throw me back into the writing scene.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, takes place over the course of November each year. Participants strive to complete at least 50,000 words (generally of a novel) in just 30 days. NaNoWriMo was something that I had always wanted to do. I had friends/acquaintances who had talked about it before, and it had always seemed such a cool and fun way to really commit to churning out a book so quickly. It made it all the more challenging and exciting that November was certain to be a busy month for me with the holidays drawing near. With a few days remaining before November 1st rolled around, I made up my mind that 2018 would be my year to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Of course, I did not want to just participate, I wanted to WIN. I was determined to complete my 50,000 words in just 30 days. I also knew for certain that I wanted to take this opportunity to complete the very first novel I had started so many moons ago. So, with my planned 50,000 words plus the 9,000 I already had on paper, by December 1st I would have a very good jump on completion of my first novel.

The 30 days was rough. I fought off illness, dealt with spontaneous visits and get-togethers with friends and family, Thanksgiving preparation, and holiday sales shopping—you name it, there was always a ready distraction. The last week was pure torture, as I had no idea how I would ever catch up after not meeting my word goals for several days in a row.

The last day of the month fell on a Friday, one of the busiest days of my work week, although, fortunately leading up to a very welcome weekend. On November 30th, I had all but given up my chances of winning, but was determined to “write it out” any way. Somewhere around my furious typing and 10:00 PM, I thought, “Wow, I actually think I’m going to do this!” And I did do it. I finished about an hour later, and an hour shy of the cutoff.

It was such an incredible feeling of achievement, and I felt justified in taking off most of the month of December to relax and rejuvenate. I rejoined society finally and all was well. My book was not yet quite finished, but I knew it would be soon. NaNoWriMo and the community of fellow “WriMos” gave me the confidence and knowledge that I could write again, that I could finally complete my novel.

I have since stalled out a bit and have not yet finished, although I’d say the first draft of my novel is about 4/5 (5/6?) of the way complete. Part of what keeps me from diving right back in is the fear of all the editing that will most definitely keep me humble and keep me busy over the next several months. I’m honestly afraid to look back and read my work. Not just because of the wonderful slapdash nature of NaNoWriMo event writing, but because I am afraid that my work is not good enough for my toughest critic: Myself.

So, I’m counting on this blog (and all of you) to keep me honest. While my novel will not be the great focus of this blog, I plan to provide regular updates as to where I am in my progress. By doing so, I hope to keep motivating myself to continue writing, editing, and, ultimately, presenting a finished first novel that I am proud of and proud to present to the world!

-AW

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