In my post on December 9, I talked about completing and winning NaNoWriMo 2020, something I never thought I could ever accomplish. The challenge seemed daunting to me because I had never taken on one that huge, and I never fleshed out the idea that I had for my novel. It proved to be quite easy for me because I made myself sit down almost every day (I took a break for three days) and I reached the goal. Granted, the first draft was just a file full of words, but at least I had something to revise.
The Writer Rests
I let the draft sit on my computer for one and a half months until I opened it back up and saw that, in my effort to go back and forth through time in the narration, I inadvertently wrote two novellas that could stand on their own. I wasn’t disappointed, though; in fact, I was excited. After all, I ended up with two stories in my first NaNoWriMo challenge! Each of them are a little over 25k words, but I am setting one of them aside to work on the story I first intended to finish.
Boy, talk about revision! I decided that first-person POV wasn’t working, so I changed it to third-person. While most thrillers I read are in the first-person, I felt that my novel had too many stories to tell for each character and would make for a more immersive novel.
But, we’ll see what happens. I have to keep telling myself that a novel doesn’t take a few months to finish. Most novels take years, and if I decide to set this big one aside, at least I have another novella to work on that has a totally different plot.
The Writer Learns
My writing break hasn’t been in vain because I have been taking online classes. I am learning American Sign Language online through the local community college non-credit courses, and I plan on continuing my education in ASL. I don’t have a friend or family member who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing, but I do love languages and ASL is certainly a fun one to learn. As far as my language learning on Duolingo, I’m still learning Welsh and have started learning Scots Gaelic.
Another course I am taking is by writer Joanna Penn (fiction pen name, JF Penn) and is called “How to Write a Novel” (see Author’s Note below). She was offering a great discount and, after scanning the syllabus, I immediately bought the course. It comes with a workbook for each module that you can use as a tool to help you reflect on your writing expectations (you don’t have to have anything written to take this course, just a few ideas of what you want to write). I’ve just finished the second module and it’s an inspiring course so far. I’ve learned how to track my research, organize my notes, and really think about the purpose of my writing.
One of the prizes from NaNoWriMo was a heavily discounted offer to download Scrivener, a software that is used by many writers to store their drafts and their research. Taking Joanna Penn’s class led me to finally open the damn thing and go through the tutorial. Since I have most of my novel written in Word, I’ve been copying and pasting what I’ve revised into Scrivener and will make further revisions in the software.
The Writer Plays
I had set aside my ukulele during the latter half of 2020. I’m sure that I don’t have to explain why since we all went through that part of 2020 together. I have since picked it back up and I received my Little Martin LX1 acoustic guitar yesterday.
Music has been a powerful force in my life. It binds me to family, and it keeps me from getting cabin fever as this pandemic continues. I haven’t played the guitar in years, but I still have most of my sheet music and books from when I started learning in high school. I played my Little Martin for a couple of hours last night and had a blast. It felt good to hold a guitar that was comfortable (many guitars are too bulky for me) and that sounded amazing. It was a pricey instrument, and I was lucky to have some extra money set aside, but I’m happy that I have it. It was an early birthday gift to myself.
I can’t wait to walk down memory lane with the songs I used to play, and I can’t wait to see what new techniques I’ll learn.
The Writer is Sober…sort of
I have been alcohol-free for one month and five days, and I feel pretty awesome. There have been days where I could have used a drink (at least that’s what I told myself), but the feeling goes away eventually. I say I am “sort of” sober because I still partake of that legal Oregon flower, if you get my drift. I find that it grounds me and helps me focus when I am writing or taking one of my classes.
While I am not pining for whiskey or cider, I have been drinking copious amounts of sparkling water, mostly ones that have a sharp, citrusy flavor. One good thing about living in Oregon is that we have a program called BottleDrop, where we can turn in the cans and bottles for recycling and get back that ten-cent deposit you pay for at the store. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have about $60 on that account that took about a year to accumulate.
I’m happy to say that most of those bottles and cans are non-alcoholic now.
The Writer Continues
Since I left my job in November 2020 after taking a generous severance package, I have had to create new routine, and it happens to be set around doing something creative. I’m not going to lie to you: I don’t miss my day job. However, my severance is not going to last and I am currently looking for part-time jobs so that I can keep my creativity going. The problem with my full-time job was that I didn’t have enough energy during the week to write or do much of anything else, and all I wanted to do on the weekends was relax from the stress of the week. If I go back into the full-time work-a-day world (which is a big possibility), I’ll strive to add an hour per night to whatever I’m working on, whether it be my stories or my music.
As creatives, we have to keep creating. It keeps us steady and grounded, and I’ll be damned before I lose mine.
However, the only one not quite used to my new routine is my cat, Archie. He doesn’t understand why I can’t cuddle and write at the same time.
*Author’s Note: I am not being sponsored or endorsed by Joanna Penn. I am just enjoying her course and writing advice, and I like to share writing information to fellow writers.*
Congrats on giving up the juice. I myself have stopped drinking for about a year now, and I now realise how little I need it. It doesn’t serve any of my life’s purposes—not even to unwind—since I always feel worse the next day, so it’s not worth it. Wishing you the best in finding your writing groove!