Everybody Needs a Strategy…

…at least if they’re going to get through NaNowriMo.

In defiance of the gremlins in my head that tell me that writing about the process of doing NaNoWriMo will jinx things, I thought I would at least share that I plan on doing Camp NanoWriMo this July. I’ve got some delightful buddies to take the journey with: the unconventional and ever-magnetic M.D. Dragon, and Victoria Feistner, myth crafter extraordinaire, who I have published and, God willing, will publish again. M.D. and I have even made our own little cabin– the Creepy Campers.

If there is one thing that past NaNos have taught me, however, it is that cameraderie and public postings in the name of ‘staying accountable’ are not terribly great motivators for me. In fact, extrinsic motivation gets me nowhere fast. The funny thing is, I have definitely written 50k words in a month before. It was just never during NaNo. Now, that’s easy enough to write off in November because Christmas is coming and things are getting busy. But July is nothing but time and sun and watching people’s dogs while they go on vacation. It’s prime writing season.

The good news is that I have figured out a strategy that works for me. Over the past six months or so, I have been working really hard at reclaiming my professional work ethic and getting consistent daily word count in. That has meant a lot of trial and error, listening to myself and my motivations, and learning how I actually work best rather than how I tell myself I work best. And the answer I came to, is that

I work best in a total vaccuum.

That’s right. No critique. No discussion of how things are going. No comparison, and absolutely no scrutinizing my word count every two seconds to figure out if I have made the goalpost for the day. I set down a time to write, and then I put my butt in the seat and write until that time is done. I do not criticize what I write. I do not compare how I write or how much I write. I get totally short circuited by comparison with others and outside opinions. I have to set aside a time, be quiet, and listen to the little voice that sings in my heart.

In my life, often listening to my own heart was let’s say, heavily de-incentivized by those around me. I think a lot of people have the same experience growing up. In my case, I responded by becoming a perfectionist and an approval addict. But my inner writer cannot be an approval addict. She has a voice to speak with, and because I have not always given her the time and attention she needs, she cannot yet compete with other voices speaking over her.

For me, writer’s block is the paralysis of ‘everyone is doing better than you so why try’ and ‘if you write this people will see how terrible you really are’ and ‘nobody really wants to listen to someone like you anyway’. I kick the butts of those overly loud voices in my head by cultivating quiet. I play flowing, meditative music to carry all of those thoughts away so I can focus. I ground myself and remember that no matter what gets done or remains undone, no matter whether I am a success or failure, I am enough.

Because I am enough. And this month, I am going to kick NaNo’s butt. I’ve already done the rehearsals, and now it’s time for opening night.

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