After giving it some thought, I have decided not to participate in National Novel Writing Month, having neither plot nor characters in mind. But I am challenging myself to write a post a day during the month of November, in solidarity with those who will be writing entire novels this month.
The goal of writing a post a day seems manageable, because I have kept journals and morning pages for many years, and I have learned that I feel better and think more clearly on the days that I write. Also, I don’t fear the blank page, as some writers do. I can always come up with ideas to write about.
My main problem is to stay focused on longterm goals and not let myself get distracted by all the other things I am interested in and would like to do besides writing. In fact, as soon as I started to think about whether I could actually write a novel in a month, my monkey mind started jumping up and down saying, “Oh goody! I always wanted to write a novel! And while we’re at it, maybe we could also find time to paint and learn to play the fiddle, like you promised!”
And I say, “Shut up, monkey! I don’t have time to do all that. I have a fulltime job, you know, not to mention all the other things that need doing around the house.”
And then Monkey goes off to the corner to sulk, and I am left feeling guilty and discouraged again, so I give up and go clean out some closets or sort through the stacks of junk mail rather than do any of the things I claim to want to do. Before I know it, the day is gone and it’s time to make out menus for the week or go to the grocery or do the laundry or some such mundane task.
While I’m sorting through unimportant stuff and wondering what is wrong with me, I think about all the people I know who are passionate about something–whether playing the banjo or making fiddles or teaching children to square dance or writing books or setting up saltwater aquariums or making quilts or organizing protests or making videos. It hardly matters what the passion is. I want to be more like these people, who stay focused on their overall purpose, who make hard choices, and who manage to find the time to do the thing they love, even while holding down fulltime jobs, raising children, or meeting other obligations.
So I’m going to post at least 500 words every day and see what comes of it. But in the meantime, I think I’ll go carve a pumpkin. Or start a batch of wine. Or rake some leaves. Or clean up the garden for winter. Or help Jim scrape bee frames. Or update the dance website. Or organize photos. Or take a walk through the woods. Or go to the grocery store.