I have been writing all year round. From January up to this point, December 01. So nanorwimo is just one of the month like any other normal month of the year. I also wrote a few novels since the year started, barreling through like a maniac, making sure I write every month and have something new. So far I’ve only accomplish two months where I write every single day, every day without a day missed. Each day was more than an hour. The other months, I didn’t write every day and there were at least five to ten days missed. Anyhow, there are always lessons to learn regardless of the month. So nanorwimo is not a special occasion for me. My schedule may have changed but one thing is sure, I make sure to write.
This national novel writing month I had a specific novel in mind to write. It had been an idea sprouted from the previous months and I try my best to write how this story would unfold. I write some scenes and dialogues. Snippets and small ideas that popped prior to fully jumping ahead to November. 01. Unfortunately, only five percent of what I saved made through in the novel and I had to throw some works. I write free flow and without outline. I’m a pantser, which was common to other novelists. So when I started the novel I constructed a new foundation that was far from the ideas I saved. But regardless, I wrote the theme behind the ideas. Regardless of how the story went I was able to write what I’ve been wanting to tell. The tone was still the same. And it went well.
Long term visions.
I think writing a novel was one of those hobby (if you are a student, work,) or a work (if you are a full time) that requires a mindset for a long term vision. You don’t write the first draft and expect it to be published. You rewrite. You edit. You refined the masterpiece. I know that this first draft is a garbage. I wrote this in full propeller without turning back for previous chapters. First draft is garbage. Let us keep that in mind but from that garbage, we picked it up again and give life through constant works for the next month, the next and for the next few years. You continually beautify your work. You love it right? So tend to it. Take care of it. That’s the long term. And then there is the submission and exchanging of thoughts. Considering, you’re work is accepted, we all know, even for those who are never publish like me, that once your work is accepted, the only real work is about to begin. Editors would read your work, comment on it and return the work to you. And thus begin another round of revision. You can’t just change one mid chapter without affecting the rest of your story. So this act of writing a novel is a long term process.
But I think I pushed myself way to the long term, farther than the process of getting a book published. The plan for this novel is more than ten years, after I publish a high fantasy series. All of them. Right now, I have a seven plan book. Two of them had a finish first draft with more than 100k words. I’ll have to jump into the first book of the series and work on it. Then work on six more books. So by the time I publish what I work for this November 2016, I’ll be way a different person. The series had to be publish first before the novel I work this November cme out. My only hopes are that I’m not 70 years old by that time, because I’m sure if I go back to this work, I will have forgotten most of it and will probably throw this copy. I guessed I’ve put myself way too long. I know, it’s all about looking in the long term.
Another musing I’ve contemplated not just from writing this specific novel, but for writing all other novels is that we tend to get attached and being attached to the story was a different thing. I’m talking about being sentimental about the work we put in. All the efforts we insert from November 1st to November 30th. We force ourselves to get in front of the laptop. The ups and downs of writing. There are times I’m so inspired that I just sat there, hammering words nonstop. I’m sure if you’ve been writing a lot you have this. You call this state. And then there are days, where you wonder if you are suddenly a different person. I sat with great anxiety. I look around and wander. The anxiety wouldn’t go away and I just stare at blank page. The anxiety grew to nervousness and I would rather prefer to slam my forehead on the keyboard than deal with the anxiety in my chest. In my case, there are instances I just want to throw the laptop and end this good suffering. What you learned from this is that you will rather suffer doing something you love, than suffer doing something you don’t. Everyone works hard anyway and there is persistence everywhere. Not because it’s your passion everything will go smooth. No. So you’re back on that screen. You type in the first words. The first sentence. You describe the scene and you go against the ultimate resistance inside you. You don’t fight it, you focused on the story. Slowly, you are picking yourself up. You’re walking up that hill laboriously. You glance at the lower right corner and see you are in your third page, you look at the clock and see you’ve hit the thirty minute mark. You are on the top of the hill and you’re about to go down. The rest will be gravity. The anxiety is gone. Because now, you’re sharing what your characters are feeling. You are immersed in your own world and reality just shuts off. It can happen by the fifth page or by one hour after. But you just start. At the end, the anxiety goes away…Then you’ll just have to repeat again all of this tomorrow. This doesn’t have to be every day. It’s a roller coaster. Some days were good. Some days were bad. What is important is the work you put in. November 01-30 you attended.
Nanowrimos, you did come to work. You put in more than three hours a day. That has been your life. You shut away social life. So when the 30th day comes in, you wonder, what am I going to do by December? You read Chapter 1, look back to November 01 and then you are fill with nostalgia. It did to me.
Most of you will try to recreate the passion you feel for November. So you edit. What happened to resting your novel for two weeks? In my case, I never edit right after writing my novel. It will seat in a while for weeks and months, even years. But for this novel, just like I mentioned before, this will seat for, probably decades after. So no editing will come to it. I will not go back to working this. As for December, I’m thinking of going back to this one novel I wrote before. But I’m not sure yet. Many things are coming in.
I will not have survived the nanorwimo without stimulants. No, I don’t take drugs to bring me to another world. Then there are literary authors who drunk themselves to alcohol. I don’t do that too. Then there are those who get on with music. I don’t listen to music when I write.
But we all have something that keeps us going. In my case, it’s caffeine. Every day I drowned myself in high octane caffeine. I drink three cups/bottles of coffee most of the days. This November, I always start my day with any coffee mix. There is a stock of Kopiko Brown in the drawer so I drunk that after my first meal for the day, which would be around 12 in the afternoon. I woke 12 or late than that for the whole November. I considered lunch as breakfast.
I’ll drink my second super coffee, Kratos Double Espresso black coffee or Double Espresso latte five in the afternoon. Because in between my first cup of coffee and my second I didn’t log in anything for my novel. I start the day by studying Russian language that I just started this month, unlike writing a novel, this is the first time I made learning the language a hobby, and which until now I still don’t have any comprehension. I tried to put an hour a day or more for my language learning and monitor my schedule. After the session of language learning, I will procrastinate some time. Only after drinking my second cup of coffee, Kratos, I will try and attempt hard to start writing. I’ll log in to some rare days but my will power to jump to my novel is dead. Think about this as a battery. I spent my energy studying a language, the figures I never understood. So it drained a lot from me. And then there is caffeine crush where my energy just dropped to zero just a couple of hours after. I work in my room and the bed is not one step away. It is beside me. I feel it calling for me, for me to lay, for me not to work. So I’ll surf the net and had to take my next coffee, Kratos, to get going. After some time the caffeine will kick in. On rare days I will get to press the Microsoft Word icon and start right away. I’ll write for two hours and then take my dinner by 8. On rare days, that two hours will be spent running or jogging around the village. Just stretching my muscles. I tried to write five pm, but it wouldn’t just come. So normally, my writing session only start 9 in the evening, after I take my dinner. By then I will already had my third coffee. Kratos still had the effect on me even after sweating out hard, but I just want to get that energy. This time, my third coffee is Nescafe Classic. Two teaspoons of black coffee in the cup. No sugar. No creamer. My added sweetener is a slice of butter. I will let it melt in hot water, sat and let my energy settle down. I will reflect for a few minutes and then write. The trickle of Kratos was still inside and so the Nescafe would only add. After an hour, the caffeine would begin to have the effect on me. At this time around my senses are fully alive. I am awake. My body is moving against my control, at least my arms. I just wanted to keep moving and moving. I channeled the energy to my brain, for writing. I’ll start writing 9, sometimes 10 or 11 in the evening. Once I start going, I don’t stop. I can’t stop.
There were days I still have gas and the story has to be told, so I went farther than what I set for the day. I work on hours and not on word count. I monitor how much time I put every single day and made sure it’s at least an hour. I’m hard on myself, if I don’t get to write an hour, I will not logged it in. I have a clock with me. I’ll start the stop watch and will write continuously. I will pause the time every time I stop, either for a toilet or to please my body that begged to move. I would only resume the time clock once I return to writing. So from nine, I will go on until 3 in the morning. While most people are sleeping, I am working. I know I’m not alone. All owl people are working on this time. Most of the days when I finished adding that piece of scene in my novel, it will be four’ o clock in the morning.
The first half of November, I don’t go to sleep right away. I had watched this great TV series The Strain. It’s all about a vampire, but not the typical Edward Cullen type. I watched the entire series every day until the second week of November. Bed time will be around five or six in the morning. I’ll even get to the point where I’ll have a breakfast with my sister. While she prepped for her school, I’m off to sleep.
I also read Every Day by David Levithan this month. I also chunked in Pharmaton multivitamins. In their advertisements a man was on his prime, grinding. So I think, this too, aided. One of the side effects I read at the back was sleeplessness. Plus the coffee I put in my system, I am a loose cannon by 12 midnight.
Your Internal Voice is your best cheerleader
Anyone in their field will have someone else to cheer for them. In a track and field, you have a coach to right your mistakes. You have your coach to cheer you to the finish line of the practice. It’s the same with any sports. Basketball teams have cheerleaders. In business you have your mentors. When you jumped into writing, you have what? Some of you will say that you have the internet community. You go to twitter and someone support you there. But how much support are they really?
Writing is a solitude act. When you don’t feel like writing, when you feel like pushing yourself farther no one will cheer for you to write more. No one.
Ask any of your friends if they write a novel and most of them will answer with a no. Ask yourself, how many of your friends really write a novel? There is always a strong chance there is a slim number of writers with other writer friends. If you have a fellow novelist, good for you. I envy you. Cherish that friend. Value that friend. Because in my case, I don’t have a writer friend. None of my friends write and so I don’t tell them that I write. I always shake my head every time I hear the phrase, tell me who you’re friends are and I’ll tell you who you are or you are the average of your five friends. Never true. And I always read from social media that there are always other novelists like me. You don’t know anyone who write. None of your friends do. Don’t be disappointed if you are like me. In fact be proud that you are doing something against the common things most people do. If you want to succeed in your passion then you have to sacrifice the pleasure that the greater population indulges in. You see your friends walked the other way. Your family, each of them took these paths. One generation passed after the other. None of my family members write. It’s not easy, but you still pick the pen and scribe. You still type. To do something you love takes a lot so give yourself a props but don’t indulge on it. Get on and work.
So when you jump each day to write, learn to cheer for yourself. Manufacture the inspiration from within because no one will tell you otherwise. In this case, you are your own coach. The books you read may be your coach. Your shelves are the testament you can do it, so get in there. But at the end of the day, the voice is always yourself. In writing, don’t expect support from anyone. You are your best cheerleader.
Loving the Sake of Work and not the Trophy
My writing schedule always changed from month to month and season to season. I have the same schedule this November as with April and May. These three months there are no school.
I finished the school’s semester and my internship last October, so my schedule and commitments were unloaded to the point my entire day is blank. This December I will be graduating. Yes, I spent the vacation writing a novel that will be publish decades after. Maybe I’m just crazy.
Once I find a work, I’m certain the writing time will be greatly reduced, to the point it will shock me. But writing will continue and I hope to chunk in little time on my language learning. It’s not about the finish line or the result. A publish book or fluency in language. It’s more about the love on the process of writing and discoveries in the story. Attending day in and day out. Creating worlds and characters. Growing in the journey, developing myself, pushing my will power. Cherishing every moments. That’s what it’s all about. That is what being a novelist meant.
Written: First week of December