I debated calling this “Week 3 Observations” because I didn’t update last week. The previous weeks were numbered, so it would make sense for me to continue the numbering scheme as it was going before. However, because this is technically week four of NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to just skip to the number four. Hopefully this doesn’t bother you too much.
In any case, it’s been a terribly busy November for me. I’ve started writing again, but only because there’s a scrappy part of me that refuses to quit despite the fact that I have to write somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 words a day until the clock strikes twelve on November 30th. I’m banking on the hope that desperation, not necessity, is the mother of invention. I’ve definitely got myself into a bit of a bind here, and it’s absolutely my own fault.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about the exact nature of my bind, though. Sure, part of it was because I wasn’t as connected with this project as I have been to writing in the past. Part of it was also the fact that I started a holiday job this month, and while it’s not a five-day-a-week, nine-to-five kind of position I still had some adjustments to make. As part of my musical gig, I was out of the state last weekend and barely had time to eat, let alone write. There’s been a lot of company over. There are holidays coming up that I still need to prepare for. Heck, even the weather might be a contributing factor.
Basically, I’m realizing that being an adult with a full, fulfilling life and simultaneously being a writer is kind of challenging. Not impossible, just not something I have a lot of practice with yet and was totally unprepared for. It just so happened that this time around NaNoWriMo was the sacrifice I made.
The thing is that I’ve done this dance before. I’ve done NaNoWriMo when I lived in a different city from my then-fiancé (and therefore had to go visit him), when I was in a full-time job that sometimes came home with me, and when my mental health was far from great. So what makes this year so different?
That’s when the answer hit me: Routine.
I’m not someone who’s a slave to schedules in the sense that a lot of professional writers advocate. You won’t see me getting up at the same time every morning, having a cup of earl grey, and writing 5,000 words before the sun comes up. I also don’t have a dedicated writing time or day, although in the past I’ve set aside chunks of time to make room for NaNoWriMo. The moment I try to set up a routine, something else usually comes up that’s a little more pressing or important than a story that I’m struggling with. I always tell myself that I’ll come back fresh after whatever thing interrupted me this time, but I also said that nearly two weeks ago and failed to come back until now.
That’s when I realized that it wasn’t the writing routine that was hindering my progress. It was my life routine.
Life wasn’t being very consistent for me this November, and it turns out that consistency is more important to me than I originally thought. Though I’ve been happy, healthy, and getting paid, several parts of my schedule were thrown off in the last month. They aren’t bad changes, and in fact a number of them are very rewarding: they were still different enough that I was thrown off-balance and I’m still trying to get back on track, though. About the only thing that I’ve retained since my schedule made the dramatic switch that it did is having breakfast and a cup of tea in the morning, but what time “morning” is changes from day to day and often week to week.
I have no way of knowing whether or not this is a normal phenomenon for creative types that try to pull off a “double life” like this (although I think I might be getting into a triple or quadruple life, what with all the things that I do). I also have no way of knowing how long this will last: if it takes longer than a month to adjust, then my holiday position will be over and my musical gigs will slow down before I get the chance to get used to this. Such is life, I guess.
The moral of the story is that, even if you can’t be consistent about your art because you have to balance it with other things, be consistent about as many other things as possible. Having some sort of routine will let you devote your energy to your craft, even if you can’t guarantee it a spot in your schedule every single day.
As for NaNoWriMo (which, perplexingly, I wrote very little about today despite the title): I’m still in this. If you’re also still in it, best of luck during the home stretch. See you on the other side.
Happy early Thanksgiving to my American readers! I’m seriously thankful for all of you guys. Thanks for making me feel as though my words are read and appreciated. It really does mean a lot.