Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
A close friend and former student of mine is in the process of writing his first full‑length book. I am doing some editing for him and, so far, he has sent me about 130 pages. His opening line is a killer. Literally. Much of it is good. He has minor issues with punctuation, occasionally a typo or mistake of some kind—but very few of those. He is husband/father/grandfather of . . . I’ve lost count . . . but several talented children, a gorgeous and talented wife, and at least one grandchild. He works for the government, and can’t tell me what he does. So don’t ask. And he was a first‑rate writer, even as a high school student many years ago. I am so thrilled that he’s taking it up again.
He’s somewhat discouraged about his writing just now. He’s a bishop in an LDS ward, not in Utah. That means end‑of‑the‑year time with tithing settlements, ward functions, etc. No wonder he’s feeling like he can’t make his “quota for the month” right away. I did send him some advice, part of which I offer you (and “myself” as well):
November and December are hard months to be writing. EVERY business has end‑of‑the‑year wrapping up . . . along with “wrapping up” presents and family gatherings during this important time.
In spite of those cares and distractions, do not let yourself get discouraged about your writing. You probably have much of it which is worthwhile. It can all be worked on once you get the initial draft done. Just give yourself permission to keep going no matter how “horrible” it may seem some days. All that can be fixed, down the road. But you can’t edit and revise a blank page!
Someone within the Utah writing community a while back made a comment on a blog ‑something along this line, though a little longer than my current version: I wanted a short statement I could post on the top of my computer: “Revise Enough to Get Rejected!” That’s pretty good advice. But it’s also beyond the purview of the “first draft,” which is what he, and all you NaNo‑ers out there are working on.
Another local writer/friend was concerned about all the time she “wasted” during NaNo (which at THIS writing is a very few days from being over) because she’s a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc., etc., etc. I got her complaint down to a single statement as well (feel free to adapt it to your own situation): Stop Mother‑ing, Wife‑ing, Me‑ing, Writing, Playing, Crying, Exercising, Praying . . . Stop Everything at Once‑ing and Be Where I Am at Every Moment Every Day.
Writing is nothing you should do in multi‑tasking mode. And I’m afraid my friend was forcing himself to do just that order to meet the “quota” he’d set for himself.
Even full‑time writers deserve a “vacation” — we all need time to refill the reservoir: read a book, sleep, do things with family, listen to some music, day‑dream, etc. And this is especially true through the November‑December holidays. Don’t think of it as bowing “out” ‑ it’s actually “rejuvenating”. Give TIME back to YOURSELF.
For me, Christmas Eve is my Christmas. That’s when I have family, etc. By Christmas Day, it’s all over with. I try to read some, eat left overs, relax because the “hectic” time is over. By that evening (sometimes because I’m finally bored!) or for sure by the next morning, I can become a writer again. Don’t stress yourself out between now and then. Don’t give up your goal. Just take a realistic look at what’s coming up and say “On December ___, I will pick up where I left off.” Or “On January 1st (or whenever?), I’ll pick up where I left off.”
Meanwhile, Happy Holy‑days! Be easy on yourself! Take care of you, then you’ll be ready to take care of your book.
See you day‑after‑tomorrow for Thursday’s 13!