NaNoWriMo

Earlier this year after reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin I found inspiration to begin writing again.  I was especially taken by the idea of writing a 30-day novel and determined to give it a try.  I apparently skipped over the brief mention of National Novel Writing Month, but it must have stuck with me because I decided that November would be my month.  My reasons were weather (the first month of more indoor time), and the obvious fact that November has 30 days, perfect!

While I was enjoying the Sunday paper I stumbled upon an announcement about November being NNWM and decided to look into it more this morning.  I am now officially registered on the NaNoWriMo website and will be participating in any local events and entering my work for judging.  The last bit was wholly unexpected, but it is a useful tool to keep me on it when the going gets rough.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the 30-day novel is 50,000 words (the approximate length of “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby”) written in yes, 30 days.  That means 1667 words a day, give or take.

Anticipating the things that most often derail my attempts to focus on a task that has the potential to frustrate and make me want to quit, I plan on employing a few tactics in advance.

First – the ongoing office disorganization.  I will spend at least one hour a day for the next 15 days regaining order and making sure I have all of my supplies at hand.  Being able to find what I am looking for and not having the excuse to run out to buy printer paper will keep my eyes on the screen and my fingers on the keys.

I plan to follow a schedule similar to the one I have now but stretching out the writing time to allow for an additional 1667 words a day.  Part of the challenge is NO EDITING, saving that for December.  How I will manage that I have no idea, but the point is to grow creatively and resisting interrupting the flow to edit is key apparently.  As a result, I will complete each day’s writing in one sitting with my inner editor locked in the closet.

Make this my number one priority.  The dishes, the laundry, dealing with email, chatting on the phone with family and friends; any and all of those will be on hold during my time to write.  And how much time will that take?  I’m not sure and expect it will vary daily.  I will give myself a two-hour window to start and then adjust as needed.

Likely this blog will see shorter entries, some about this endeavour and others on the usual range of topics.  If you are planning on participating in this challenge, let me know, I hope to keep up with my fellow writers with encouragement and when that fails commiseration.

Deciding

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he told me. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.” ~ Steve Jobs to Walter Isaacson

And I believe it is true for people as well.  In this graduation season many graduates  face the next step in their lives with uncertainty.  If they have not already committed to a job or further education, the possibilities seem endless and it is overwhelming to think about the choices.  This is one of the times when thinking in the negative is helpful.  To eliminate the things one knows for sure are not options is the first step in  the narrowing process.  Each of us can use this technique to help refine our decision-making.

My home and the nine acres surrounding it always have a list of things that need doing that would strike fear in the heart of my former suburban self.  On any given day, it is easier to start with deciding what not to do.  Mother Nature is the guiding force more often than not in the process of elimination.  Choosing a task compatible with the weather often cuts the outdoor list in half.  The wear and tear on my less than youthful body is another consideration.  If the day before was extremely physical, I immediately set aside heavy work projects the following day.

Deciding what not to do falls into two categories, what not to do right now, and what will never be done.  Just because the option presents itself does not mean that it is worthy of further consideration.  Allowing oneself to toss out the unworthy and unworkable, clears out the mental clutter a bit.  If it is simply a question of not doing it right now, assigning the task a priority ranking and placing any related items that must happen first in front, the action list begins to emerge.  Use this for anything from making large life choices to planning the spring yard cleanup, the idea and process is the same.

The point is to refine one’s focus to a manageable list of options and be able to weigh the relative value of the particular choice.  Thinking of our lives as a product development project allows us to step back and to leave behind consideration of options that do nothing to further that development.  When faced with open-ended questions, starting with what not to do can in fact point us directly at the answer of what to do.

Creativity Day

Yesterday was a day I wanted to devote solely  to creative pursuits.  Sunday seems like such a good day for that; generally a slower day anyway, and doing something fun that gets my creative juices flowing is a great way to prepare for the week ahead.  Since organizing my space is a must for me, I created a new space in a bedroom under a south-facing window.  I hauled an incredibly heavy table from the garage and set it up.  I located all of my various tubs of craft supplies, paints, glue guns, drafting supplies, on and on.  For once, I did not go out and buy a single thing before I got started using it. I painted my coffee canisters, repaired small broken items, and laid out some ideas for decorating my Adventure Box – (sounds even better than activity box, I think).  It was so focused and relaxing at the same time.

Resolution:  Spend Sunday on creative projects and laying out future projects

Monday however, is my administrative day.  It seems at the end of the day when I think about what is coming up, on Sunday I always come up with things that I have to do on a weekday, such as calling businesses for appointments and such.  Before I went to sleep I made a list of calls, five, to get me started this morning.  I am so excited, this week’s calendar is busier with planned events, a class on WordPress tomorrow, Wednesday a presentation on a trip to Ireland, and Saturday a Celtic dinner dance to round out the focus on St. Patrick’s day. I am especially excited about the WordPress class as I look at other blogs and am inspired to do more.

My first personal Commandment for my Happiness Project:

Do not let others define you – be you from the inside out

Nature note:  Snow last night, maybe a 1/4″ but fully covered everything, so from looking like spring yesterday, this morning it is a winter wonderland again.  It will get above freezing later, then back to early spring, which in Montana is a bit more like “sprinter” a little of each, the forecast for the rest of the week is just about the same.  Being fully present in the moment, with concrete daily goals, makes this transitional season something to celebrate rather than tolerate.  Spring forward!

Order from Chaos

As part of a larger personal project I found myself tackling the garage yesterday.  No small task as the weather conditions needed to be such that I could pull out all three vehicles; the truck, SUV and ATV/snowplow and leave them out all day while I regained some order.  Once I had a fire in the wood stove to warm it up a bit, the cold garage being another deterrent to this project, I began the process of primarily just putting things away as most of them have a permanent location. All of the storage and shelves were inaccessible when the garage is crammed with vehicles and I had started stacking items near the door.  Once order was restored and the garage swept, things I discovered:

  • I have projects in progress that had been forgotten
  • With a little reorganization I can put most things away when the vehicles are in the garage
  • There are packing materials that belong in a distant storage shed, that for the moment is impossible to get to due to the snow
  • That the garage does get nice and warm with the stove going
  • A warm garage motivates me to work on the projects in progress
  • I love the satisfaction of putting things in order

Another sunny day – this one will be in part for errands that take me out of the house and I will see other humans – yea!