NaNoWriMo and Me

Today is November 1, which means it is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That breaks down to 1,667 words per day, despite weekends, holidays, or, in my case, an impending baby. NaNoWriMo is tough, but it is not an impossible challenge (I’ve written about this before–click on the keyword below).

But it’s not for everyone. And this year, it is not for me.

NaNoWriMo 2016

My Non-NaNoWriMo November

But here is what I will be doing during November (in addition to working my job, prepping the baby’s room, going to doctor’s appointments, and helping out my wife):

  • I will write. My only goal is to write some amount of fiction every day. Instead of failing if I “only” write 1,500 words, I fail only if I write zero words.
  • I will continue to work on my novel. I’m not completely ditching the work I’ve done on it, but I am going through a substantial rebuilding to improve my characterization.
  • I will read fiction. I’ve read over 60 books this year so far, which is high for me (I usually end the year in the 50s). But I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately. I want to get back into reading more fiction. And, more importantly, I want to break it down, identify the pieces, and understand how they work together. Reading as education, not just inspiration and entertainment.
  • I will go easier on myself. Instead of focusing on how my writing is not where I want it to be, I will focus on past successes and look for improvement in my current work. Instead of whining about time I have let slip by without writing, I will focus on today and tomorrow and the words I am putting down now.

As you can see, my NaNoWriMo is not only about developing good writing habits, but also developing good mental/psychological habits. I’ve never been a fast writer. It’s always been a bit of a struggle for me. And when I get down on myself, that struggle becomes more difficult, and I start writing less. So this November, if I want to write more, I will also try to be more forgiving, more patient, and more encouraging toward myself. Now that isn’t to say that when it comes time to edit that I won’t kick my own ass. Instead, this November is about making sure that ass kicking comes at an appropriate time and place.

Now I can’t measure my progress in this endeavor the same way I would for NaNoWriMo. But I can gauge how I feel about myself and my writing, and see how many days in a row I have written something. Yes, I wish it was more concrete, more measurable, but I’ll take what I can get. Maybe I should add another point–to write more here about my process, good and bad. Maybe by reflecting a bit more, I can help improve my processes. It may not be 50,000 words, but in the end, if I have written something and feel better about doing it, I’ll call that a win.

My First Blog Post at the New Job

So last time I posted, I mentioned that I had a new job. Well, I’ve hit the ground running at the Aspen Institute: meeting people, learning about the programs, and even sitting in on some of the events. And I even have written a blog post about one of those events–a discussion between NYT Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger and WaPo Associate Editor and Columnist David Ignatius, focusing on Ignatius’s latest novel, THE DIRECTOR; the hacking of Sony; the Torture Report; and more. Check it out if you’re a fan of spy novels, national security, or are as fascinated by the Sony thing as I am.

As for writing, well, I’m still reconstructing my broken NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m working with a writing group, so more to come on that front as it develops.

Have a great holiday everyone! Look for me once all the festivities have passed.

No News, Bad News, and Great News

So I have been absent from this blog for quite some time. I apologize for that. I like to post regularly if I can help it, so “No News November” has been a real oddity.

And for those who are interested or an online buddy, you might have noticed that my updates, posts, tweets, etc. about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) have also disappeared. Well that’s because–for the first time since I started participating in 2012–I will not complete my 50,000 words this year. This sucks. I had–well, still have–a good story, an outline, and a bit of work. I just had to put things on hold for a while. I’ll be picking up where I left off in December.

But I have a very good reason for going silent on the blog and not writing fiction.

Aspen Institue Logo

And the reason is the “great news” part. Instead of blogging and working on my novel, I was interviewing for a new job. And all the effort was worth it, because I have accepted a new position. Beginning December 1, I will be an Editor at The Aspen Institute.

As much as I love working from home with my dog, I’m incredibly excited about this new step in my career, and I really can’t wait to get started. I get to touch on a diverse set of interesting, substantive issues, and I get to work with a great team of people. I’m a very lucky man.

It might take a while to see how I can fit various aspects of writing and social media into a new schedule, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. So hopefully the radio silence has ended. In fact, I already have a second post lined up for today.

Guess What’s Around the Corner?

That’s right. In just about three weeks, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will start. Are you ready? Are you getting your sleep now? Are you outlining? Will you be ready to write 1,667 words per day come November 1?

I’ve been working on my outline and maintaining my daily writing habit. I’ve also been increasing my daily word count bit by bit, so I’ll be ready to watch my NaNoWriMo counter go up right on schedule (or better).

I hope you’ll give it a try if you’re at all curious. It’s a great way to push yourself, to finish your first 50k words, or to just keep going with your WIP. And if give it a try, come find me online. Here’s my profile. Feel free to send me a buddy request.

Good luck, everyone!

NaNoWriMo is Over. Now What?

So it’s December. NaNoWriMo is over. Did you reach 50,000 words? If you did, great! If you didn’t, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, focus on this: did you develop a daily writing habit? Did you learn something about yourself? Excellent!

But what now? Well, go to Fantasy-Faction, and read my new article. You’ll find plenty of helpful hints over there.

Good luck, and keep writing!