In For Writers, Writing

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I bought a new coffee maker. Until now, we’ve lived on instant (I know, I know). I also pledged to keep my calendar clear for the month of November (with the exception of Thanksgiving and the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2). I have a tendency to over-commit my time and energy, so this was a challenging but necessary vow. In the weeks leading up to NaNo, I was doing well with it. Dentist appointments, doctor appointments, home repair work, meetings, I scheduled it all to happen before November because I was determined to spend the month in a well-caffeinated, productive state.

And then Sandy blew into town just days before NaNo, leaving us without heat, lights, or electricity to fire up the coffee maker. She tore up our yard, knocked down a tree, and blew over our mailbox (which I was actually happy about because I’ve been wanting a new one). 

We lived by candlelight for three days, heating our home with our wood-burning fireplace and eating our non-perishables. Fortunately, our power came back on the day before NaNoWriMo began. But, as it goes, this is the year I offered to host Thanksgiving (remember what I was saying about over-commitment?), and I realized that in order to get the house and yard back in shape before NaNo, I had to forgo working on my outline in favor of raking leaves, picking up sticks, and righting the mailbox (until we get around to buying a new one) (p.s. why are mailboxes so damn expensive?). By the end of the day, order had been restored and on November 1st, I brewed my first pot of Hawaiian Hazelnut coffee and jumped into NaNoWriMo flying blind.

Unfortunately, all of those appointments I mentioned got rescheduled smack dab in the middle of the first week of NaNo. So rather than sitting calmly in front of my computer, sipping delicious coffee and penning a masterpiece, I was scrambling to write between teeth cleanings and flu shots.

And then the acid reflux started.

I’ve never had acid reflux before, so I can only assume it’s the result of the new coffee I’m brewing. It’s a real treat. Every morning, I wake up at 4 a.m. with waves of hydrochloric acid charging up and down my esophagus. (You can imagine how much my productivity benefits from this). I’ve discovered that the only relief comes when I eat bread because it acts as a sponge and soaks up all the acid. Unfortunately, November was also supposed to be my “low-carb, drop a few pounds before the holidays” month. (See with the overcommittment?) But between Superstorm Sandy and the coffee machine that’s trying to kill me, I’m officially under-caffeinated, lagging behind in my word count, and sporting carb belly. And we’re not even half way there!

Despite all of the setbacks, I’m more determined than ever to reach my writing goal of 50k words in a month. (Okay, the thought of quitting has crossed my mind once. Technically twice.). But what NaNoWriMo has forced me to do – and why I won’t give up on it – is prioritize writing every day, which, sadly, is something I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing. And all of these challenges that are being thrown in my path? They’ve led me to the realization that being a writer (during NaNoWriMo and beyond) means fighting for your writing time. Because no matter how well you plan, life will find a way in.

What is NaNoWriMo teaching you?

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Showing 8 comments
  • Erica
    Reply

    I am glad you have set aside time for Twilight. 🙂

    • Erika
      Reply

      Yes, Erica, I have my priorities 🙂

  • Ashley Prince
    Reply

    I thought I was having troubles with NaNoWriMo, but I feel like it’s nothing compared to what you have gone through. Wow.

    I admire you writing this post though and your determination to get to your wordcount.

    • Erika
      Reply

      Thanks, Ashley. It’s been an interesting month so far, but I’m thankful to have NaNoWriMo motivating me through the challenges. It would be too easy to give in and focus on all of the other stuff that needs to be done around here. But what homeownership is teaching me is that the moment I cross one thing off my To Do list, something happens and I have to add a few more. Thus, I will never be caught up (a realization that tortures me!).

      Anyway, glad to hear that NaNo is going fairly well for you. Happy writing!

  • Scott Neilson
    Reply

    I am at one of those annoying places where I have a million things I want to do and never seem to get around to any of them. Sometimes I think it is because I need it all to be defined and organized before I start…so I can see a clear path to conclusion. Other times I think I have ADD.

    As you said in one of your previous posts…when you just start on any of them, it seems to become clearer and sort itself out…and I know this to be true. I just don’t understand why it is so hard to get started.

    • Erika
      Reply

      Scott/Dad,
      Okay, now I know where I get it from. I too need everything to be defined and organized before I start a project, which is why I’ve been having such a stressful time trying unpack from our move while working on my new book. I just want everything to be in its place so I can focus on my work. But things rarely come together that neatly, do they? I’ve been working on BALANCE (gasp!)…writing a little, unpacking a little. It doesn’t feel as great as having everything already unpacked, but at least I’m moving forward with my new book.

      Speaking of getting started, I should lend you the book I’m reading, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It talks a lot about that resistence that you’re facing and examines why it’s so hard to get started. (You’re not the only one struggling with that!) I know you hate to read, but this one might be a good motivator for you.

  • Brianna
    Reply

    Hugs to you! You’ve certainly had a wave of tough stuff lately. NaNo is teaching me that I cannot write stories set prior to 2000 or so. I’m trying to live in the 1920s again (as I did last year) and I’m failing miserably. I do much better with stories set in modern times. I’m going to keep plugging away at this story and see what happens, though.

    • Erika
      Reply

      Why do you do better with stories set in modern times, Brianna? Is it a research/authentic setting issue?

      When I was working on Empty Arms, I struggled to write about life in the 1970s, since that’s a few years before my time. I interviewed my parents and some older friends about the fashion, music, and slang that was popular back then because I was consumed with making it feel authentic (though some parts came out quite corny and had to be cut). And even though I grew up in a pre-cell phone era, I found myself Googling questions about pay phones, making long distance calls, and dialing the operator. Seriously, it was so hard to remember what we did before cell phones and the Internet!

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