Seven days and counting until the Camp Nano clock counts down to zero, potentially proclaiming us as conquerors of the word war. If we were in a novel right now, we would be reaching that point in the plot where the world is falling apart quickly, and pretty soon we will have to make an astounding comeback if we want to snatch our happily ever after from the jaws of our enemies. This would be the put up or shut up moment, the time when us (the hero of our own little story) would come charging into the fray, sword drawn, and show the world our true grit. Except in this story, our epic battle is of the writing kind, and the enemy is time. I will be honest, I am feeling the pressure, that steady roll of panic is cocooning me like a sleeping bag. I don’t normally cut it this close, but this time around: I am getting worried.
I can’t believe how fast July has zoomed by, we are in the home stretch, and I have to make a confession: this has not been my best writing season. I came into the month with such high expectations of myself, ambitious in spite of all of those extra activities I had planned for the month. And then I flopped. Hard. I haven’t been posting as much as I should have right here on this blog, even though I have a huge list of topics to write about in a binder at my desk right now. My Nano story still feels like it is in it’s infancy, even though I have been slowly chipping away at it throughout the month. The plot changed about two weeks into July when I came up with a new idea for a sequel, so that set me back a bit. I am still excited about it though, I haven’t grown tired of the storyline, even if the words aren’t quite coming out the way I had envisioned just yet.
I am not normally one to be biting my nails and hoping for a win at the end of Nano, but this go round- I am a bit nervous. I think I’ll still make it- so far I haven’t lost a Nano yet, and I don’t plan on starting now. But I am also normally much farther ahead at this point. I had hoped that this Camp would be the one where I finally hit that illustrious 100k, but that ship has sailed, unless I magically find a month’s worth of writing time in the next seven days- unlikely when I will be busy with work and life. This blog is as much about the writing failures as it is about the successes, although I do hesitate to call anything related to writing a failure. If I am still plodding along, it is a success. If I haven’t given up on the big dream, if I am still fighting for my future niche in this world- that it is not a failure, merely another learning experience.
This, my dear friends, is a cautionary tale of writerly woe, one that I am sure we are all intimately familiar with. I know exactly where I went wrong this Camp, yes, I am well aware of that moment my crazy train went off the rails. I didn’t guard my writing time. It is as simple and as complicated as that. I knew going in that it would be difficult; the summer in general gets pretty busy for me. My work load picks up, it’s vacation season, my fiancé is out of school, and the weather is too gorgeous to constantly stay inside.
I am not always very good when it comes to balance. I tend to be an all or nothing person, my middle ground usually erodes fairly quickly. It is something that I always have to work on. And this Nano I made the fatal error of not coming up with my personal plan, I didn’t set out my daily goals or even decide when I would be working. So there were days when I simply didn’t. Not that I necessarily regret those: it has been a busy month, but I’ve had one hell of a good time this summer: lots of walks and hikes in new areas, good movies, a long vacation to the beach, new places to eat- the adventures have been endless, the fodder for future stories is delectable. The problem is that I didn’t find the balance. I played hard without working hard on some days, and then there were those burn out days where all work and no play made Katie a dull girl.
You have to find a realistic balance, and then you have to follow your plans. Whether you have to wake up early and dedicate an hour to the project, or get yourself home early so that you can spend two hours before bed typing away; you need a plan, a schedule to adhere to. It’s not always easy to say no to a fun plan because you have writing to do. But there are days where you will have to make this sacrifice if you want to be a published writer someday. And then there are days where you have to remember that you still need to live outside of those glorious pages that you have created.
I am still working on the balance, I am still trying to find the plan that works best for me. For those of you who have it all figured out, I am jealous and very proud of you. It is not an easy task, my friends. I can only hope that eventually I will work out a routine that satisfies my goals and my personal demands. I am not there yet, but I am working on it. Forever busy with the task of self-improvement.
But there is a silver lining to this cautionary tale: the game is not over. We may be in the final inning, but there are still points to be scored (or perhaps the correct analogy would be home runs to hit? I wish I were more into sports). And I know that I am capable of hitting my target still. I just have to have the discipline I have been lacking this month. I have to sit down and focus, I have to put my work before my play. It is seven whole days. I can make one more week work for me. Besides, there is still next weekend for that final push. If I really sit down and delve into this, who knows what I might be able to accomplish.
As our hour glasses are beginning to run out of sand, I tell you good luck, my friends. We can still do this, the fight is not over yet. Victory is still within our grasp if we are only willing to reach for it. And for those of you who have already ‘won,’ clicking the Validate button with the excited flourish that you deserve- I say congratulations, bask in your glory, enjoy some down time, feast on your favorite treat. And then, when you feel ready, come join me for a drink and a few more good pages. I will be here, typing away as always.