Completing the first draft: A look back at the writing process – Part 2

What didn’t work

Pinning down this list was more difficult. There are so many variables; when did a method slip from the ‘Worked’ category to the ‘Didn’t Work’?

For instance, NaNoWriMo 2005 was instrumental at the start. Our son was six-weeks old, we were exhausted; it was a stressful time. Our daughter was 2 years old and she didn’t give a whit if her brother was up all night. She’d slept her 10 hours and when morning came you better be ready for action. NaNoWriMo 2005 was an island in the storm. I wanted to complete the 50,000 like a dog begging to be let outside. It was a relief, but completing NaNoWriMo was a pipe dream. There was no way I could manage and not be a self-absorbed yahoo. My wife was all for it, but with a daughter and a newborn, we had no idea what we’d gotten ourselves into. So NaNoWriMo worked until it didn’t.

Since NaNoWriMo 2005, I haven’t felt the need to participate because I never quit the NoWri part.

So with that, let’s dig into the things that didn’t work:

The deadline: Wha…? I know, it’s not what I said previously, but by it’s nature, a deadline has to be met to be considered a success. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely. My very first deadline was to complete before my 20-year high school class reunion. Stupid idea – right motivation, wrong implementation. The second deadline was more plausible – four months – and I was close. Really close

Attempted assault: It was one encounter on a business trip, but it severed the continuity and momentum I’d built and sustained. I really, really hope those three boys got everything they wanted for the holidays and have since found more gainful employment and are giving back to the community in which they live. At the very least, picked a different form of after school entertainment.

Prime time television: It’s a crutch. Some days after work and getting the kids down, there is nothing better than a healthy dose of mind-numbing television to get you through.

Wine, wine, wine: This is not a cry for help. But if they could caffeinate it, I would’ve spent less time nodding off on the couch.

256MB of memory : I love, love, love my Dell C400 laptop. It weighs less than 4lbs, but until very recently (three cheers for profit sharing; hip, hip!) working in a document and opening the browser brought my little CPU to a 100% standstill. The new, additional memory has made a big difference. (Would it be irony or coincidence that the lack of computer power put the kibosh on browsing the Web instead of writing? Should this be considered a ‘Worked’ column item? Hmm.)

Self-(insert item): If there is one thing I learned, I have no control over the story; only the process. The only influence I have is putting my ass in a chair with a keyboard on my lap every night.  The story is outside of me. I’m recording the events. Events that are happening with or without me. Once I got me out of the way, things worked…better.

Trust the story. Be diligent and responsible and it will be just to you. Now, I’ve got to get back to work. Thanks for dropping in to take a look.


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