Things I learned From Writing a Novel- that can be applied to anything
I feel ecstatic, this is my second time participating (and completing) National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! And though this is just a rough draft of the final version --currently at 91 pages single spaced thank you-- (which will probably be twice as long) I feel so fulfilled to have done something for ME.
I have a really creative job, and I have the joy of creating stories every day, and I absolutely love it! It had been a long time since I'd written a novel for me. I also knew I'd been giving so many of my best ideas to work, and I really wanted to do something for me. Without having to fit into a format or style, I wanted to write a story the way I wanted. So I did. And just like reading a novel leaves you changed, writing a novel does the same, maybe even more. I rediscovered so much about myself, my wants, hopes and dreams even though I wasn't pulling any of my characters from me. I'll leave my personal learnings to me, and I'll share with you what I learned about the process. One, I feel, can be applied to pretty much anything you'd like to dedicate yourself to when aiming to accomplish a new goal.
1. Decide you want to commit
Once you decide you want to commit to whatever goal it is. I find, I move heaven and earth to make it happen. I make no excuses or exceptions, I just get it done-only once I decide to do it. If that doesn't work, find your "why." Why do you want to achieve that? How would it make you feel after?
2. Don’t sacrifice fun.
I thought I was going to have to give up my life to get this goal done. Let me tell you, writing 3 SINGLE SPACED pages a day was hard work. And imagine doing that the moment you wake up or after you've had a long day at work. The average email is 50-120 words, so I was writing about 20 times that a day, but creatively, and enough to make sense. So it takes hours and hours. Some days writing flows faster than others.
I still did all the fun things I'd normally do. Maybe I wouldn't make as many plans as I normally would to allow flexibility for when inspiration wanted to strike, but I still did all my normal outings with my friends, I still read two novels, I still watched Succession and Insecure every Sunday, I still treated myself to shopping sprees. Maybe some days I didn't write as much as I wanted, but it just made me write more the next day because I didn't feel cooped up. Really the key to anything is balance. And I found the more balanced I was, the more I Iooked forward to writing and the more inspired I was when I finally came back to the page.
3. Like anything, you'll get better the more you do it
Practice makes perfect. Day one, I found myself struggling at the 800 word mark, toward the end I was writing 4k words a day like it was nothing. Imagine my delight in witnessing the amount of (my own) growth that happened in a short amount of time.
4. Having a day job is no excuse
I wish I would have logged all the hours I spent sitting, working on my novel. Some days I was so exhausted and I really just wanted to veg out or read. But the outcome was so worth it. Setting aside time is key, but you'll find, when you're not wasting time, *Insert countless ways you waste time here* that you have more time than you think! I learned that being more intentional with my time led to me getting more done. I took breaks when I needed, and found a certain time of day that worked best for me, I tried diligently sticking to it. It's as simple as this: Once you start making the time you will realize that you will start finding the time.
Cool sayings on time: "If it's important to you you'll make time." & "If you need something done ask a busy person." Again, being intentional with your time will take you far.
5. Some days will be harder than others, be patient yourself
You're human. If you don't feel like doing something in that moment 1 force it, or 2 put it off until later in the day. Both work if you are committed and don't let yourself slack off. If you do feel like slacking off one day, try to fit whatever it is into how you're feeling so that it's an enjoyable experience. Sometimes I needed to do something else in order to be ready to do it. One thing that never helped was beating myself up. So I avoided being hard on myself if I didn't perform as well one day, and instead did better the next day.
6. You will crave doing it
I felt like I had a purpose with my time again. It was something I missed, and felt was a part of me. I guess that's what happens when you build habits!
7. You will blossom
I saw so much growth in myself, had epiphanies, rediscovered what I wanted, all from following my desire and deciding to do something for me.
As you can tell, I've had an incredible experience. So now comes the editing process to make it the next Great American novel.