A Race Against Time

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Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash

It came down to the wire this year– yesterday was day 29 of NaNoWriMo.

I had 35,777 more to go.

There’s something about having a goal, one you know you’ve reached before and that feeling, the one that doesn’t let you be less than what you’ve been. I didn’t want to lose this year, I had to reach the goal. 50,000 words, I had to reach it.

I started on day one. Now I may have missed days 2-7, but I promise, I started on day one. By day 2, I was behind.

It’s not that I didn’t know what I needed to write, that wasn’t it. I’ve had this story in my head for a while, one that allowed for the collision of so many different worlds to come together into one incredible novel that only makes sense once you turn that last page. Then that “oh” moment makes you sit back and wonder how you got from the start to finish in the first place.

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Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

That’s the kind of moment that makes you want to read a book again, right after you read it the first time, because somehow there’s got to be more.

More. There’s got to be more. That has been my writing process.

It’s been a struggle to catch up once I got behind. Every day I wrote a little more and a little more, but it didn’t feel like enough. i wasn’t even going for the substance of my writing, no, that isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo.

The point is to hit that 50,000, because if you do, that means you’ve been writing. Consistently. Unless you’re one of those people to knock it out in under a week, the idea is to hit that word count because you’ve spent thirty days creating one world and one story.

It’s about the commitment to creating something that hasn’t been put on paper yet.

So did I commit?

After weeks of making late night time for writing, among the studying and the constant reading, I kept going. At first it was hard to find the story, to figure out just what I was trying to say. They say that the characters choose their lives and we’re not allowed to change their story once it’s set.

Whatever happens happens, we put our pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and let the story come as it may. I committed to writing a story, all those words in one month so I could meet my goal, but even more so, so I could create a world.

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Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

And here we are, November 30th, the final day of NaNoWriMo.

I’m at 35K words, just short of 50,000 by a few days of hard work. I haven’t written a single word since yesterday, well, I don’t plan to before the clock turns and strikes the first of December at 12am. I am not a winner for National Novel Writing Month this year and I’m okay with that.

Because I realized that as of right now, my finals start on Monday and there are things beyond my story that need my focus. Writing for me will always be a priority, but so will my studies.

Besides, believe it or not, my goal for the month wasn’t hitting 50,000.

I wanted to get that novel started, the one I’ve been thinking about for months. I wanted to find that space where I knew my characters and I found the story I needed to tell, that was my goal— in 35,000 words, I found that goal. I didn’t need to keep going.

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It isn’t about consolation or even technically “losing” NaNoWriMo. I’m on track for my studying and all the readings I’ve had to do, and I found my story.

For me, that’s a success.

So with an unfinished novel and a busy two weeks ahead, happy Friday everyone. I hope you find your own success today, even if all that means is changing your perspective.

Good luck.

 

Challenge Accepted– NaNoWriMo

Another week has come and gone and a very busy one at that— just in case you were wondering, about last week, I did decide to take the high road after all. Sometimes that’s the only way to do it, and maybe it wasn’t even worth putting the emotional effort to be hurt or angry. This year I’m at least learning that it’s our choice who we keep close, am I right?

Beyond finally learning more big things, there are three others that get me truly excited these days: free food, cancelled class, and more sleep. Lucky for me, we turn our clocks back this Sunday so I get a little bit of that last one to start off the next week.

Which is perfect, because it’s finally November… Do you know what that means?

Various kinds of pies will be eaten, a few more exams will be taken, hopefully more sleep will be gotten over break…

And maybe if I hit my word count, a new novel will be written (started). Because it’s National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo).

Officially, the month started yesterday and every single day, the word count needed to hit that incredible goal is 1,667. If you miss a day, that word count doubles. Because one way or another, if you want to win nanowrimo, you’ve got to hit 50,000 by the end of this month. And well…

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Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

I just missed day one.

That’s the thing about having a goal; if you miss a day of it whether it’s working out, reading a few pages every night, or remembering to sit down and relax every morning before work, it sets you back. And you are the only person who can make up for it.

Right now, 50,000 for me is quite the lofty goal. If you remember from last year, I was able to hit that word count but it was a real scramble down to the last few hours. Well, the last hour. But I threw myself into it because I needed something to focus on, some other place to put my mind for a little while, and I could get that much closer to finishing my book in the meantime.

Don’t you have things like that too?

I think there are a lot of times in our lives, things we get ourselves into, not just because we want to but truly because it’s what we need. Think of it like exercising— just because you should doesn’t mean you will, but we (should) do it anyway, for our own good.

Considering what’s going on in my life, the things I’m already doing along with maybe remembering that I should actually take care of myself, adding a 1,667 word goal to my days isn’t the kind of stress I need. But as weird as it sounds, it’s the kind of stress I want right now. I miss the creativity, the process of writing something other than academic papers.

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Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Maybe it’s not the kind of thing I should be taking on right now, but I could use the distraction, the goal to set. Even though it’s work, it’s also a break— the best kind really. Because I’ve been so caught up in all the papers and readings and work and interviews that I haven’t had time for anything else. One thing this month does is literally force me to take the time if I’m going to hit 50,000. So I guess that’s what we’re going to do— commit and hope for the best in whatever comes next.


Wish me luck everyone, I know that I’ll need it if I’m already behind. So have a great weekend, find your own challenge this week, and I will see you Friday.

The Beginning of The End– How to Keep Going

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And just like that, welcome to the final month of 2017.

You know those months where you count down the days, square by square on that calendar, until it’s over? Well that was me with the month of November, but not because of how much I love the Christmas season (though I really do).

You see, November is what a lot of people know to be National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s an idea, one that started with just a few people and now reaches worldwide to creative writers up for the task: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Does that sound daunting to you? Because it did to me.

These past few months have had a whole lot going on, from my work life and my personal life to my educational life and my sleep life. Trust me, these are all different things— I’ve gotten good at procrastinating on each and every one of them.

This month, I needed something good, even if it was just in one aspect of my life I could control. So I made a commitment to the one thing I care about solely for myself and unfortunately, the one thing I’ve a hard time finding my voice in for a while now.

My writing.

On November 1st, I set a bookmark in the novel I’ve been working on since January of last year and I wrote below it “Start here.

patrick-fore-381200.jpgSingle word by single word, I did my best to keep up with that challenge every day. But I’m sure we all know, commitments can be hard to keep.

By day 5 I was supposed to be at 8,333 words, by day 10, 16,667. Both times, I was stuck on 5,568— I couldn’t find the energy, the motivation, to do what I wanted to do. Everyday I watched that number get farther and farther away from me, like sand through my fingers— there was no way to stop it.

Days went on, passing over the keyboard while my fingers neglected to, and before I knew it, Thanksgiving break was here; I was at 25,000 when I needed to be at 35,000.

I wanted to give up, to forget the goal of reaching what I wanted and accept that maybe I wasn’t cut out for a commitment like that. It was too hard to keep up.

Yet there was this voice in my head, not the nagging insecure one telling me to let it go already, but the one that always keeps me going. It told me to try just a little bit harder. For as I’ve quoted before, not only regarding writing but everything it means to be human:

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

So I didn’t give up.

I spent the entirety of that break hoping to see friends, do some homework, spend time with family, and try to catch up with the word count. Yet by Friday, I still had 10,000 words to go to be on track. It was now or never.leio-mclaren-299136.jpg

Picture this, Nick and I are driving back to SLO on Saturday morning with a friend and once Nick and I switched off driving, I started writing. Then… I fell asleep. I woke up here in San Luis Obispo, still 9,532 words behind that goal.

So I wrote and I wrote until the day was done, unlike my homework, finally down to 4,658 to catch up (add another 1,666 for the next day to get me to 41,667).

The goal seemed so far away, I was tired of constantly running behind that line. But I was catching up, slowly. So I decided it was my job to make it happen.

On Sunday, I got up and went straight to my computer. I was ready to knock that line out.  First I hit 37,000; then 39,000; there was no way I could stop there. After a club meeting and a food break, I returned for the home stretch. Finally I hit 41,693 words on day 25— I caught up.

Over the past week of being back, during prep-week before finals and the last days of class, I kept up with that line, always staying ahead, until yesterday. For yesterday, I hit 50,494 words at 11:36pm.

I made it to 50,000 with 24 minutes to spare.

It was an incredible feeling to hit that number— I had managed to double my word count and get so much closer to finishing my book, all in 30 days. Because I committed to it.

Despite how many times I wanted to quit or how hard it was to keep up, I still made it.

So as we head into this last month of the year, I want you to think about everything I just told you; it’s not about how close you are to where you want to be, its whether or not you keep trying anyway.derek-story-308547

This year has been hard, for everyone that I know, it’s been a long time coming. But today is another day and we made it; congratulations, because no matter what, you are still going. Be proud of yourself for that. In this holiday season, among the job stress or finals weeks, remember that it’s okay to want to quit, to want to open your hands and let the sand slip through. As long as you hold on to the people by your side and your own reasons to keep going, all I ask is you try for just a little bit longer.

Soon enough, the tide will turn for you.