Congrats on finishing Camp NaNoWriMo! What an achievement!
The first thing you should really do is get yourself a glass of champagne or your favorite sparkling beverage and celebrate!
And even if you didn’t reach your goal, still break out the champagne and celebrate, because you started something really hard, and that takes enough guts anyways. You’ll finish in the future. I know it. You know it too right?
So at this point, you’re probably wondering “What do I do now?”
Science fiction has grown exceedingly popular within the last century. Some would say it’s the most popular genre right now, for both movies and books. The idea that we could go farther, live longer, see more, create indescribable things, is a tantalizing idea and has spawned enough books and movies to not only reignite our imaginations but to reimagine what actually could be. We’re starting to wonder what is ultimately possible, and that can be attributed quite a lot to the prevalence of science fiction.
And this is why nerds and geeks everywhere are jumping up and down excitedly. People finally get why we’re so enthusiastic about science!
Failure is not fun. It can keep you up at night. It can sneak up a surprise visit on you when you’re least expecting it. It’s the life experience that is most likely to render you without motivation or persistence.
And it can really take a toll to your writing and your own self.
I don’t know about you, but my failure’s often come back to me through the strangest ways. Unbidden, unrequested, they’ll pop up when I’m thinking about something entirely different but claim to be right on track. I’ll lose my train of thought as the track takes a sudden detour down a path of memory lane I really wish I wasn’t going towards.
It’s not fun to remember failure. If only for the fact that you remember more how you felt or how you made someone else feel than what actually happened or what mistake you actually made.
Those little pieces of memories, the most poignant, the most emotional, the most fraught, are the ones that somehow stick. I have little memories of when I embarrassed myself in front of friends, or small groups of classmates as an elementary school kid. I have the story I always tell when asked for my most embarrassing moment: the day I pulled a Charlie Brown on the football field during Junior High P.E.
But the ones that can really ruin my day are the ones that even if I don’t remember the entire context, I remember the feeling I had. And more often than not, that feeling is inadequacy, lack of skill or intelligence, or just a general not-knowing-what’s-going-on sort of feeling.
And those are totally the worst.
I’ve found that the days I dwell on those little memories, that sneak unbidden onto my thought train are the days I’m least productive, most likely to find a new show on Netflix that I don’t need to watch, and the days where I’ll be most apt to give this whole writing thing up and say “fine, I’ll toss in the towel and go work a normal 9-5 job with stable pay, good benefits, and the occasional lunchtime yoga class”.
But of course, that doesn’t get me anywhere nearer to my dream of becoming a writer.
And remembering your failures won’t get you anywhere near your dreams either.
It’s important to note something about all these failure memories: yes, they exist. Yes you failed, or someone failed you. But…you carried on. Life continued moving forward. The world didn’t end right? You didn’t start the zombie apocalypse, you didn’t pause time (although that would be nice sometimes wouldn’t it!). You have moved on, whether you realize it or not.
Those failures that still haunt your memories are memories of you in a different place and time. A different you lived those memories. You don’t need to let the you that you are now live them all over again.
We are nearing the end of CampNaNoWriMo, so of course, tensions will be high, you’ll be wishing you’d done things differently, you’ll be wondering how you’ll even finish, you might be worrying about what to tell your friends if you don’t finish. These feelings are applicable for any sort of challenge, especially self-imposed ones.
Stop worrying about the things you can’t control. Sit down and write.
It doesn’t matter what your friends will think…they already think you’re amazing for even attempting such a feat in the first place. Sit down and write.
Don’t panic about how you didn’t have a plan at the beginning. Make a plan now. Sit down and write.
Stop agonizing over whether or not you’ll finish. Make it impossible for you to not finish. So you won’t finish by your original deadline. Create a new one, a week later. Devise a plan. Use that new plan, say no to seeing friends for a few days, write on your lunch break. Sit down and write.
If you can’t write because your shoulders are tense from all the work and worry you’ve already done this month, book a massage, or ask a spouse, family member, or friend to give you a back rub. One you’re loose and a little clearer minded, sit down and write.
Failure is a strong adversary, but it can always be countered by doing something. In our case as writers, we just have to…say it with me now…sit down and write!
Write about your failure. Write about how it makes you feel, what you wish would be different, what you wish could happen to that memory, to those words said to you or actions done to you that are preventing you from writing.
It never does any good to keep things bottled up. Instead of wallowing in your failure by pigging out on chips while you watch Netflix in your sweats, get up OFF YOUR ASS and sit down at your laptop and write.
Write about Netflix. Write about how comfy your sweats are. Write about your favorite type of chips and your diabolical plot to get your spouse to like them too.
I’ve found the best way to combat failure is to get writing. Normally I start writing about the dumb memory and how I felt and how I failed and by the end of my essay, I’m happier and more fulfilled and generally off to the races to work on my blog or my books.
Cliches are a toughy…they’ve lasted so long probably because of two reasons: 1) we resonate the most with these tried-and-sort-of-true sayings or 2) we’re lazy. I tend to go with the latter.
Not only do they make a story predictable, but they also show a lack of effort on the part of the writer. They can distract a reader from a story filled with otherwise fantastic prose and characters. Sometimes they’re just plain frustrating. Other times they actually inhibit the development of otherwise inventive and creative characters.
And don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s really difficult to write without them. Some are so ingrained in our conscience that we don’t even notice them as cliches or their pervasiveness in our stories. And too, there are very few new things under the sun. Continue Reading
I come to you today with a slightly shorter post. But don’t worry, it’s a super fun topic.
Ever done a word sprint?
If you haven’t, then you’re in for a writing treat! If you have, then you’re probably grinning knowingly. Those who have partaken of a word sprint are never quite the same. Neither is their writing…especially those NaNoWriMo first drafts.
So what is a writing sprint?
For the most part, they follow this formula: a set time (ex. 15 minutes) + key words (pickle, picnic, parsnip) = a writing sprint!
Sprints in the writing world are similar to sprints in the track and field world. Basically, you try to write as many words (or run a set distance as fast as you can) in a set amount of time. Bonus points for getting more words than you did last time (how fun is it to beat your own record, right?).
Except writing sprints are more fun. And leave you less susceptible to injury. Continue Reading