I missed Sacred Sunday yesterday, so I decided to have it today. I desperately needed a sacred sabbath, a time of reflection, a time to slow the pace and just be.
I have been participating in NaNoWriMo, the writing project in which participants create a first draft of a novel in 30 days. We are currently on Day 12. To write 1,667 words in a day that fits into the structure of a novel is a challenge. To do it day after day after day after day is a phenomenal challenge. I have been keeping up, but after this weekend, the strain of keeping up each day became overwhelming and I finally gave myself permission today to take a day off. Sacred Sunday came and Sacred Sunday went, and I did what I do every day---write, write, write, write, write. I truly enjoy it, but I'm realizing that as part of my process I must build in breaks, time off, stress relief.
In addition, LoveHubbie was home all weekend. He normally works seven days a week, so it was a pattern break for both of us to have him home. And a monster challenge to keep up with my words each day. I felt like all weekend long I fought for writing time, fought to stay with my novel, while at the same time bearing with interruptions and still taking care of LoveHubbie, as well as planning in some LoveHubbie types of fun since things so seldom work out that he has time off. I woke up this morning tired and barren, my creative well bone dry. I knew that I had nothing to write from today and needed to feed my soul.
Thus today so far has involved doing some collage, getting caught up on the computer with you all--my supportive community, and eating a meal slowly. It will soon involve reading spiritual books and a quiet time and some exercise. All of these activities done slowly and without time pressure help me to pull myself together, and to feel like I have something in place to write from.
I clearly would be better off building this into my writing process. I will be exploring ways of doing this. I don't have any clear ideas. I can't imagine how people with children and full time jobs manage NaNoWriMo, and admire them for even attempting it!
In my writing process, I wake up each day (seven days a week) and begin writing right away. I enter at least 1667 words into my AlphaSmart Neo (named Kaiolohia), usually more, so that I can get to a good stopping place. Then I upload the words from Kaiolohia to a Word file and print it out. I edit it, and expand upon sections where I can. Then I print out a final copy and fit it into my existing manuscript. I have just over 30,000 words, which is something like 90 pages or so. I totally love doing this.
I know now that I'll continue doing this after NaNoWriMo, just not so intensely. Maybe I'll limit myself to two hours a day. Or just mornings M-F. But right now is the learning time, when I'm figuring out how I work and what I need in all of this. NaNoWriMo's founder, Chris Baty, has said to never take off more than one day in a row. I'm finding that I need to listen to my body and my creative spirit, since I tend to lean the other way, towards overdoing.
I've been thinking about perfectionism, too. I've been delaying perfectionism with this book, knowing that I'll have a chance to work towards a better draft later. It makes for a much more productive day. I love working with the AlphaSmart Neo, and want to keep this up. It is too hard to go back and make everything "just so" when you have a screen size a little larger than a calculator. I hope to always use it for writing.
I read at some point over the last week about "positive perfectionism" and "negative perfectionism". Negative perfectionism is trying to be perfect because we need approval, especially our own approval, and can't be without it. It feels like a burden. Positive perfectionism is continually improving and learning in the interests of mastery, and is joy-filled. I like this distinction. I am learning how to discriminate between the two.
The best thing about NaNoWriMo so far is that it has taught me that I love to write. This has been the greatest NaNoWriMo gift, although there are many after just 12 days!
I want to finish my first draft this month. The draft has to have the plot structure included--the beginning, middle and end. I plan to expand on it for three more months; it should double in length. And then take it to Hawaii in March and add special details to it while I'm there (my novel takes place in part in Hawaii). I think I can finish up in the spring. This is my work, and my joy!
To fully enjoy my work, I have to take at least a weekly sabbath, and I have to do more with my life than just write. I need time to renew and time to exercise, time to think and create. I don't mind at all just doing that and limiting my social activities, because secretly, just between you and me, doing so is a real treat for me, and a productivity booster for my writing.
I also want to get more serious about creating a Complaint-Free world. I've been just diddling with it, and it shows. I'm slowly becoming more aware, but not getting results anything like the people who are committed. I find that I need to be centered and grounded and live at a slower pace to do a good job with this.
Well, I'm off to continue my Monday sabbath. We're having a big storm here and it looks like there's a break in the action so that I can Nordic Walk. I enjoy being available for those weather breaks and darting out between the downpours to breath in the fresh northwest air, and the moist smells of the forest.
~Pictures by LoveHubbie, alteration by Me