Nano reflections

I am done with Nanowrimo! In my mind I won even though I only reached 30,000 words. That was my goal. I knew it would be nigh impossible for me write 50,000 words in the month of November when I was acting in a show and had major rehearsals for the show I am directing. (which is opening this week. Check out Players of the Stage’s website for information. If you live in the Lehigh Valley you should come!)

Mrs. Boyle
Here I am as Mrs. Boyle writing a letter. If only I could count the words I wrote on stage as part of Nanowrimo… After I was done with my part, I’d lounge in backstage area with my computer and work on my novel. 

Now that I am finished with Nano (Geek alert…every time I see this nickname for the Nanowrimo I think about Borg technology) I have some lessons learned to share.

Trying to be Superwoman Will Burnout Your Brain.

I have blogged about my superwoman complex before, the burning craze to prove that I am successful. Some of it is because I have big goals (ie: get a building for my theatre, write a play that wins a tony, publish four novels that impact culture, and the list goes on) but most of it is because I stake my life and worth in being able to impress people.

This is one of my greatest inhibitors to my ability to act and direct. Before I would go onstage for The Mouse Trap I’d have to rehash in my brain that I didn’t need to impress my director, my fellow cast mates, or the audience. I would have to remind myself that I am perfect in Christ and that gives me the freedom to perform my hardest and with self-abandon, not fearing people’s reactions. Sometimes playing the tapes backstage worked to help me relax before I went on stage. Other nights I had to replay those thoughts while I was performing.

Theater is just one way in which I try to be Superwoman. Writing is another. I put so much pressure on myself to direct, act, get Players of the Stage’s founding documents together, write 50,000 words, and start and finish two drawings in the month of November, while also nannying twice a week, keeping a perfect house, exercising every day and reading four chapters of the Bible, two in the morning, two at night. Throw into the mix fatigue problems from chronic lyme….

Just writing that paragraph hurts my brain. What was I thinking? Clearly I’ve been struggling more with trying to find worth in others and my accomplishments than I was aware…. Every time I slip into fighting to be Superwoman I lose the enjoyment of my craft, and I burn out. Every time.

You’d think I’d learn this by now. If only I could be perfect and be amazing enough to never try and be superwoman again…. Yes, that is the twisted logic of my brain.

Rehearsing All the Dialogue in Your Mind Can Make it Difficult to Write it on the Page

I tend to create my stories by acting out the scenes and conversations that I want to take my characters through. This method of exploring characters and dialogue has been very helpful for me in writing the first draft of my plays, and even helped somewhat in writing Chrysalis, but I spent so much of my driving time rehashing every conversation that I often had trouble transferring the concepts from play-acting to novel-prose.

I would sit down to write a section I knew well. I knew what Marian said and how Robin rebutted. I knew what insinuations Sir Guy would make and the tactful way that Marian would avoid his advances. I thought it would be an easy transfer, but it was not. All I knew was the dialogue, I knew none of the narration that would make the transitions to get me from one concept to the next.

Part of my wanted to just throw down every line spoken by the character and forget about the rest of the book, but that didn’t work either. I’m still not a hundred percent why; it should be a seamless transition from mind to page, but my guess is that having worked out every word and detail of dialogue out before hand hampered my freedom to explore, and thus to write.

My new plan will be to continue to utilize my love of play-acting as a way of helping me create a story line and explore my character’s voice, but to stop rehearsing it once I have a sequence and outline planned out. That way I can play around but not be paralyzed.

The Internet is a Great Tool and a Great Distraction

(or a more honest way of putting it…I’m a social media addict)

This is obvious, right? I knew it before, but the truth of it really came home to me when I was trying to focus on writing my new novel Mercy and Justice. It was too easy to be distracted by Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes I would set a timer on my phone for twenty minutes to see how many words I could get written in that time, which would help me focus…until the timer beeped, then back to twitter I went! As if I really needed to check it every twenty minutes of my life….

I eventually realized that I was addicted to notifications and mentions, tweets and retweets, likes and shares. This ties back into my drive to make sure every one realizes I am superwoman. If I tweet something, or post something, I check compulsively to see if people have liked it, as if the number of twitter hearts and Facebook thumbs up defines my value.

Realizing this and seeing the amount of time that was taken away from writing my novel prompted me to install some apps on my phone and my computer to block Twitter, Facebook and e-mail at certain times in the day when I should be doing other things. I’m still tweaking these blocks, but I can already see how it has helped me reduce my social media time.

Dedication and Discipline go a Long Way

The great advantage to something like Nanowrimo is that it gives you a goal of writing so many words every day. I plan to take that challenge with me into the new year as I will be participating in the 365K word club, with the goal of writing 1,000 words every day, whether that be on a novel, blog post, or play.

Looking Forward

Before Nanowrimo started, I sat down and wrote a five year plan for writing or revising and publishing the four novels, two adaptations, and three original plays that I currently have planned out. This means that in 2016 I will not participate in Nanowrimo, as I expect to be polishing up Mercy and Justice so it can be submitted for publication and working on revising play adaptations I’ve previously done.

I enjoyed the Nanowrimo experience and learned a lot about myself and my craft. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on my writing while pursing freedom from using my writing, or my acting, or my drawing, or my appearance, or my house as a way of validating myself. In Jesus, I am enough. Honestly, that right there is the biggest lesson I need to learn.




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