Settling In, Settling Down

On this relatively cool Sunday afternoon, I’ve got my feet up, a Stella Artois on the coffee table, and a content feeling slipping around inside my body. This is not due to the Stella, since I’ve only just cracked it open. Rather, it comes from a feeling of accomplishment. Eight days ago, I joined Camp NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words in 31 days and, as of today, I’m on schedule to meet that goal. In order to meet my goal, I need to write at least 1,613 words a day. As of this morning, I’ve written 14,238 words. How about that?

I find that everything else is sort of slipping away to my focus of reaching the word count for the day. I am settling into the routine. Most often, I would find an excuse to shift my focus, like rewriting the You Need to Write app to better suit my needs. Or reworking my resume and writing a quirky, personable cover letter for a job opportunity that I’d love. Or in designing writing stickers so that I can plaster my laptop and iPad with these vinyl jewels. It’s no real surprise that when you begin to get creative in one area, other areas start to blossom with ideas as well. Previously, I’d run after each individual idea until I got bored or gave up. This was how I avoided the drudgery and hard parts of sticking with a goal.

As I wrote in my last post, I’m very good at not completing things. In fact, I’d say I’m aces in that department. The excuse when it came to writing though was that I had to be feeling it. The characters had to talk to me. I needed to be in one of my moods. Writing was about the angst, right? How could I be a good—no, great—writer without feeling the pain? Oh, how I subscribed to the tired clichés of the writing life! And those clichés became my excuses. I could still claim writerhood without actually putting in the hard work. This is how I used to live.

Yet any of you lovely readers following me along this year know that there has been a shift. I have been settling into writing. The jumping, jiving, dodging, lying bits of my writerness are settling down. And these past eight days have shown me that yes, yes, I am serious about this path, this experiment, this grand ol’ adventure into actually writing. You see, this past week hasn’t been all roses and shiny, sparkly things. Days one and two and maybe even three? Oh, of course, breezing along with good intentions and quick sessions, banging out a couple thousand words each time. But the past three days? Hard as hell, like knocking teeth against granite, bloody and pulpy and the headache to go along with it.

I’ve been keeping a daily log of my writing. Friday, not a word written (this was partially due to my very early doctor’s appointment). Saturday, only 1,000 words. And then today, a nicely robust 2,025, which took me over three hours to complete. I think I must have sat there for almost half an hour, staring at that blinking cursor laughing at me the entire time. How often I just wanted to close the document and make it up tomorrow. Or the day after. Or next weekend.

Thing is, I’ve been down that road before. I’ve been down the road of making an excuse. I’ve worn a smooth path of giving myself the benefit of the doubt. That path just goes in circles and, when you’ve worn it down as far as I have, it’s hard as fuck to pull yourself out of the hole you’ve been digging for over twenty years. I sat in my chair, made cup of coffee after cup of coffee, until I surpassed my 1,613 word goal for today.

Settling in, settling down. Writing for the sake of writing, writing because I want to write, writing because it’s the only thing important for the rest of this month. I promised myself a first draft of my novel by my fortieth birthday and Camp NaNoWriMo is the jump I need to accomplish that goal. It’s lovely—and just a bit intimidating—to only focus on one thing. To settle into the act of writing, every day. What’s even more exciting is how much I’m learning about my characters, especially Peri (the main character of my novel). To be honest, I haven’t had this much fun or difficulty writing anything before.

So, here’s to settling in. Here’s to settling down. Here’s to focus and fear and all the greasy, grimy drudgery of putting in the work. I’m shoveling through the shit and having a goddamn blast at getting dirty.