NaNoWriMo is an incredible undertaking for anyone. 50,000 words in only 30 days is a lot. I have participated four times now and won twice. I failed last year due to working three jobs and also attempting to have a life. This year I had been hoping it would be different. I was down one job and had my mornings free. Surely I would use them to write and get something new finished.
Well I failed. Miserably. Even worse than last year. As of this writing I have fewer than 7,000 words. According to the website I will finish in June! And you know what, I don’t care. Sure, it would have been great to finish. “Winning” would have been awesome, a great accomplishment that I could share with friends and family. But the thing is, “losing” is great too. I may not have a lot done, but I got words on paper. I introduced new characters and plot lines along the way. I cleared my head of some things that were bothering me.
Most importantly I learned more about myself as a writer and a person. I learned to prioritize. Writing is important to me, and I still take time out every week to do a little, but family, friends, work, and sleep are more important. I am slowly learning how to space these things out in my life, and doing so will only help my writing process. I remembered how difficult it is for me to write at home where I am distracted.
Even though I “failed” at writing 50,000 I succeeded in a lot of ways. I can still feel good about this. So even if your writing experience is going poorly, remember that there is always some good to be found while writing, no matter where or how you find it.
~Rachael Miller Crawford
Here are the top seven writing habits repeatedly mentioned by big time writers including Bryce Courtney, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Neil Gaiman, and Agatha Christie.
- Be consistent. Some authors write at a given time, some only on given days, but all of them make writing important and consistent.
- Never justify. If you want purple grass and seven moons, go for it. If your characters are exceptionally goody-goody, or sociopathic, then that is what makes the story yours.
- Let it go. At some point, put the story, poem, song, play, out into the world. Give it wings. If it crashes and burns, follow point four below.
- Never stop writing. If the first one flops, write the second, and the third and the seven thousandth. You actually never know when someone (see final point below) will read something you’ve written and it really does make it big.
- Balance your weakness. If you can’t make a deadline, write well. If you are submitting crap, turn it in on time. Write drunk, edit sober. Once you have figured out your personal crazy, make sure it isn’t so dysfunctional that you become your own worst enemy.
- Be flexible. If you can’t find a publisher, find another way. If you are getting a backache writing at your desk, write somewhere, anywhere, else. If you hate computers, figure out voice recognition. Work arounds keep life interesting, and productive.
- It’s who you know. Meet people, be friendly. You never know who will make the call that you’ve been waiting for.