Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Go With The Flow

Writing isn't easy. It takes discipline to find the time to write, assuming you're not a full-time writer, and then to actually sit your backside in a chair and do it. You can always find excuses to avoid writing and usually they're things most people would find reasonable—you need to clean the house, go grocery shopping, make dinner. And at the end of the year, it takes a near herculean effort not to succumb to the Big Excuses—holiday planning/decorating/meal cooking/gift shopping. I mean, the holidays are already stressful enough and you don't want to let your friends and family down, right?

Wrong. You've forgotten one very important person: You. When you, as a writer, don't prioritize your writing and always (or mostly) let other distractions take precedence, you're letting yourself down. I don't mean your writing absolutely has to come always first, but it should be important enough to come first a fair amount of the time. It's called balance, something we could all do with more of in our lives.

That's one of the reasons why I think NaNoWriMo is great for a lot of people. I'll freely admit it isn't for everyone. But for some people, NaNo has turned out to be the one month of the year they're able to truly prioritize their writing as task numero uno. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because they can point to the website and say, "See? I'm participating in a national event. I just can't do x-y-z until I've reached my word count for the day." Or, maybe it's the feeling of we're-all-in-this-together comradery at the write-ins that spurs people on to continue writing.

It's as if once you start writing, the words suddenly just keep flowing. My advice: Go with the Flow. Make it a habit and keep going. (Surprise! For those who only write during NaNoWriMo, if you keep writing after November the words still flow.)

One note. Don't forget to back up your work! My rule is: Save Early and Often. Turn on automatic saving, manually save frequently, and create an archive back up after each writing session. Since I use Scrivener, I back up my Scrivener project to a zip file.

Another back up suggestion—save your back up file to multiple physical locations, in case of a disk crash. My two favorite "off computer" back up locations are an USB flash drive and Dropbox. If you've never heard of Dropbox, it's a cloud service and it's free for up to 2GB of storage (you can pay for more storage, but honestly I've been using it for months and haven't begun to make a dent in my storage space). You can access it from multiple devices (PCs, Macs, iphones, ipads, other smart phones, etc.) and you can share files with other people, if you choose, using different levels of permission. It's an amazing service.

So, find time to write and write as much as you can (turn off your internal editor!). Save your work frequently and copy your back up files to multiple storage devices. And above all, have fun!

I'm a bit behind on my NaNo goals, but I'm plugging away and writing every day. How's your NaNo journey going?

3 comments:

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Debbie, hooray for you for sticking with NaNo! One of my cousins does NaNo, but not much writing the rest of the year. But I don't think she's writing as much for publication as for herself. She seems to enjoy it and produces a lot of words during November.

However, I'm one of those people NaNo doesn't work for. I'm pretty much a solitary writer and want absolute quiet when I'm writing intensely. Don't want check-ins or someone in cyber-land hanging over my shoulder. But I'm in a different situation than many people trying to shoe-horn writing in among a full-time outside job, and lots of family and other obligations. But publisher deadlines are a great motivator for me, so even if I don't do NaNo, I'm still productive. :)

Thanks for the reminder about back-ups, though. It's definitely time for me to do that!

Paty Jager said...

This week has finally been a Nano week for me. I've actually written a fair amount.

I back up every time I stop and think. It's become an automatic response if I stop to think, I hit the save button. Comes from losing too many words that I fought hard to get on the page.

Congrats on keeping the momentum!

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm not doing Nano this year because my goal is to finish polishing the books I've written. I love Nano for writing a first draft!

Thanks for the tip about Drop Box; I'll have to check it out.