Going off Balance on Purpose

What I’ve learned this month of NaBloPoMo and NaNoProgMo

NaBloPoMo

For the past year, I have kept up an almost daily litany of complaints to my husband that I never have enough time to write. I have a million ideas, but I rarely got to sit down and hash them out.

The writing ideas languish in my head until they disappear or they remain in a notebook until I lose my interest in writing them. I would estimate that for every post I get up on my blog, I have 10 in purgatory.

And then there’s this book I’ve been not writing for years. I haven’t picked it up since the birth of my first child over five years ago. My copious notes sit in a binder on my bookshelf waiting for someone to bring them to life.

This month I took on two writing projects, National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and National Novel Progress Month (NaNoProgMo), hosted by Lauren Wayne and MomGrooves. I agreed to post a blog everyday for the entire month. And I decided I would spend a measly 30 minutes daily working on my book. 30 minutes may not seem like much, but it’s better than the zero minutes I had been doing. For NaNoProgMo, I left my goal to finish 15 hours more loose. I knew I probably could not do that much, but if I got on a roll, I wanted the chance.

I wanted to do these projects for the following reasons:

  1. I wanted to have a time that I could look back on, point to it and say, “this is what I did when I had plenty of time to write” and hopefully never complain about the lack of time again.
  2. I wanted to improve my writing by disciplining myself to write daily.
  3. I wanted to let go of my expectations of perfection.
  4. I wanted to see if I could finish something writing related.

Well, I did what I set out to do. With this post, I have blogged every day. I even posted twice a couple of times, when it was warranted. I had one guest post, but I still wrote that day. I’ve ended up with 32 posts for the month of November. I’m quite proud of that.

The NaNoProgMo experiment proved to be about half editing and half writing. When I’m tired, I dislike editing with the fire of a thousand suns. And guess what time of night (er, early morning) I was editing? So, if I’m counting hours spent on my book in dog years (which I’m going to because I was a really b*tching during the process) then this puppy far exceeded expectations.

I feel that there’s the possibility of completing this book one day. Although, I’m planning to put it aside for awhile to work on other ideas, I leave it knowing I’m capable of working on it when I want to.

As for NaBloPoMo, I learned that I want to write every single day. It feeds my soul in a way that nothing else does. However, I don’t want to blog every day. I’m happier producing content three to five times per week. I prefer to write, put a piece aside for a day or two while I focus on something else, then go back and edit it.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

Image via Wikipedia

With daily posting, I was writing, doing a cursory edit, if that, and then publishing with a wing and a prayer that my ramblings were relatively coherent and ungrammatically imploded (yes, it’s a phrase.)I’m not certain I always succeeded. But, trust me, my brain knows the difference between your and you’re, etc, even when my fingers don’t.

And as for Spellcheck, I like passive voice, thank you very much ;P.

I learned that I do not want unlimited time to write. It is drudgery and misery to work without the confines of time pockets.

Ideally, I want the world to pause when the muse sneaks up behind me and hits me on the head with a club. But, most of the time, I simply try to catch the stars circling my sore head and save them for feverish late night scribbling.

And now that I’ve had this month, I like getting bonked on the head that way (although I reserve the right to bemoan all the lost ideas.) I miss being with my family when I was writing as much as I was this month. I miss doing other things when I want to-anything at this point than writing.

I learned that I have a habit of winding myself up to write. I’ll get on twitter, facebook, read blogs, comment…basically preparing to write for a longer time than the actual writing. I’ve been taming that. Sitting down to a blank page, even when filled with ideas sucks, but if I want to live and write, that’s what I’ve got to do.

My editing may not have improved, but my skill at writing with efficiency has improved. I’m less distracted when I write. I can stay on task longer and allow the ideas to flow unimpeded. I can write posts in far less time after this month than in the beginning.

I’m less tied to the outcome of posts. I’m not worried about them being the best they can be. Not every post, or even many of my posts, are anywhere close to being as good as I’d like them to be. But, I have come to appreciate that as a part of the art of blogging. Yes, it sticks around, but it has a limited shelf-life. There’s always another post around the corner. And it’s worth it just to happen upon the one true ring…I mean…one true post to rule them all and in the darkness bind them…er, one post that rings true with someone else. That connection makes blogging a joy for me.

I learned that my belief in blogging as community is even more firmly cemented than ever. My Google Reader has exploded with unread blogs. I haven’t been keeping up with anyone’s writing and I miss them. I love giving support to other bloggers’ time and effort by commenting. I’ll be clicking “Mark all as read” at midnight tonight, then starting fresh on December 1st. I eagerly anticipate returning to old friends and meeting new ones this month as I return to commenting.

I’ve learned that my partner was willing to bend over backwards for me this month because he could see the passion I have for these projects. He took on more time with the kids and household duties on top of working long hours and the already involved dad he was. He overlooked the steadily building piles of laundry, dishes, books, papers, and unpacked bags while doing what he could to manage them. Sadly, he lost the war, but beginning tomorrow, he’ll have his ally back.

And finally I learned that being a Political Science/Journalism double major in college has ruined me for writing anything less than 1,000 words. No matter how hard I try, my brain is trained to create the introduction, body, and conclusion in that length.

I went completely off-balance this month. On purpose. I’ve breathed words, but haven’t lived them enough. I’ve exhaled, but not done enough inhaling. It’s time to return to center, pause and look around, enjoy some deep, full breaths and return to life again.

That is unless someone is planning a NaKnitMo. I have been wanting to pick up my needles again after all these years…Don’t worry hubby, that was a joke.

 

I’m not one to break with my month-long tradition. This goes up unedited and full of my beloved passive voice. *smoochies to spellcheck, that will now have a conniption*

NaBloPoMo 2011

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9 thoughts on “Going off Balance on Purpose

  1. way to go! I have been in awe (and a little overwhelmed) of your constant stream of posts this month, and the consistent quality (of the ones I managed to read, which was probably a quarter of them).

    I have lamented a little bit that, as musicians, the way my husband and I used to live was to go totally crazy out of balance for periods of time while working on a project and putting everything into it. what highs that leads to! and sense of extraordinary accomplishment!

    and now that we have a Little to care for we can’t act that way, and in fact our tendency to live that way set us up for an awful lot to learn about creating a stable home environment. and I’ve accomplished alot by learning to take things slow.

    but I long for the time to work like a mad genius on the many projects that have been piling up in my head! calls for more refining of the balancing act! building up of the supports, should that act tumble?

    I’ve been plotting embarking on my first new musical project since Koan was born. . . so much time in the planning stages, but one day it will manifest!

    • Thank you for commenting, Erin OK. Parenting is definitely like a rewiring of the brain, isn’t it? I wonder if that’s why those beginning parenting months are in a fog, to either dampen the experience or block out the reality of that huge shift. I think it’s easier for some people that others, of course. An artist’s temperament is an interesting mix with parenting. I would think there are many strengths to it, too. (hint: I’d love to read something about it)

  2. You know I’m happy to enable the knitting. 😉 Did you know there’s a yearly spin-along?

    Sometimes it’s important to throw ourselves into something to find out why we don’t do that normally. Huzzah for your being able to do that!

  3. You do amaze me! But I’m really glad to hear the dishes and laundry piled up… I didn’t rise to the occasion the way I wanted to, but I learned and I had fun! I should have committed to the blog thing too maybe because I neglected my blogs because I was supposed to “write” first and then didn’t do either. Well…. shit happened.
    But I have to tell you that I’ve enjoyed all your posts. I’m impressed with your content when you just let it roll out!! I love your mind and the way you express yourself and I appreciate everything you share.
    You’ve even taken networking to the next level and I’m really trying to follow you on that. Thank you for thinking of me so often in that.
    Big hugs and I can’t wait for the next fun party!! Oh, actually, I have a letter to my little to write. Yeah! and sigh….

    • Thank you, Teresa. Oh, it’s not just the dishes and laundry. I’m talking aisles between things here to maneuver 😉

      Ha! I appreciate all those kind words. I wonder if I’ll go back actually read any of my posts this month. Probably not. I’ll pretend there aren’t countless typos and nonsensical dangling participles between confused tenses. At least I’m out of my redundancy writing. I’m stuck on italics and parentheses currently. It’s interesting how grammar can get stuck, can’t it?

      Take your time on the letter. It’s for fun…hey, wait isn’t this whole blogging thing supposed to be fun (even when it’s for $$? )

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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