Ten minutes.

I'm actually writing this on Thursday, but it's being published on Friday so let's just all pretend that when I say "today," I mean "Friday" because that reality is easier for all of us to accept. Or maybe it's just me that cares. Either way, I'm using today to be lazily productive. Most of my writing days fall into this category because I never really get dressed or shower, but I do get things done, and today is a writing day, as most "todays" are, but especially so right now because it's NaNoWriMo and like the fool that I am, I decided to participate again. I'm very behind on my wordcount, but I'm perservering because that's what the point is (for me at least), to perservere even when I know that getting to the 50k by the end of this month is possibly not going to happen, but instead I have to believe that it definitely will happen because I have to believe that future me is going to muster the motivation to put the words down even though current me is struggling.

The way that I manage it is ten minutes at a time. I sit down and I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes. Then I hit play on my laptop so that loud music is blasting and I start typing and I don't let myself stop typing until that timer goes off. As soon as that little annoying sound starts playing, I stop typing - even in the middle of a sentence -, I hit pause on the music, and I go do some other task on my to-do list (i.e. putting in another load of laundry, working on a patreon reward, taking the dogs for a walk, or arguing with the ghost in my bathroom). As soon as that task on my list is done, I do another ten minutes, and then repeat until I have finished my to-do list. I've found that it takes me ten minutes to get about 350 words out of my brain, which means that I only need to do six writing sessions to surpass my daily goal. Suddenly, it doesn't seem so bad anymore.

This method is by no means an original or universal one, but it's the one that works for me. I'm not a person who can sit down at my laptop and write from dawn until dusk. I get distracted or discouraged when I start to run out of steam and then depression and self-loathing sets in, and frankly, those are demons that I'd like to not wrestle with if I can help it (The ghost in the bathroom isn't so bad, even if its sense of humor can be gross), and I'm thinking that maybe the reason this works is that those demons need just more than ten minutes of travel time to make it to the front of my brain, but if I don't give them more than ten minutes, they miss the train and they have to wait for another one, and then I just end up never letting them catch the train and they're stuck on a platform deep in the recesses of my mind for most of the day. I'd feel bad for them if they weren't such jerks when they came around.

Anyway, I'm not sure if any of you are slogging through something this month, whether it's a wordcount or some other daunting task, but if you are, I hope you have something like my ten-minute system to make it less scary. If you do, leave a comment down below and tell me what it is, because it took me a while to find mine and maybe someone else reading this is in need of one.

 

The Titanic Was a Thing and A Movie Theater Is a Place.

I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I had a long list of perfectly good reasons not to do NaNoWriMo this year:

  • Writing/editing 1 essay a week for submissions
  • Editing two novels
  • Updating this blog twice a week
  • Keeping up with the Patreon Page
  • Working full time
  • Running a Youth Group twice a month (which requires way more planning and organization than one would think!)
  • Running a weekly teen writing workshop
  • OH and maybe some personal time to spend with The Mr, our dogs, our friends and maybe sleeping sometimes too?

See? Those are all really good reasons not to do NaNoWriMo.

And I was also feeling really comfortable with this decision. I wished all my friends who had decided to dive in good luck and told them that I was cheering them on.

But I had one friend who decided to email me. On November 1st:

Subject: NaNoWriMo

Body: I'll race you to the 50k :)

And I responded with my whole "Oh, I'm not doing NaNo this year because <see reasons above>, but good luck!"

And he was all "Hey, we all have shit to do. Here's my laundry list of reasons why I shouldn't be writing a novel this month either." And then he essentially was like "do it anyway." I'm totally paraphrasing here, but that's basically what he said.

And I was all "Even if I could, I don't have an idea! I don't even have a character in mind that I could just start following around in my brain!"

But then I talked to another friend - a friend you only talk to when you want to be talked into writing - and she gave me a pretty great idea...

So suddenly I had an idea... and a laundry list of reasons still not to write the book... that I decided to ignore. Not ignore, exactly because I'm still doing all of those things... I just decided to add to it? So now here I am, waking up every day at 5am to put words onto the vomit draft of a new novel. And one of the best things is that I've got this weird husband who was all "Alright. Let's do this." instead of being all "EMELIE WHY?" For example:

So as of this blog post on November 3rd I am 2,201 words into a strange novel. And I can't wait to see where it's headed.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Buddy me so that we can support each other.


And now, for some business:

 

I’ll be performing at this open mic night on Saturday Night (November 4th) with some really amazing people. All proceeds go to the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in New Milford, CT. If you’re able to make it, please do! I’m reading one of my most awkward pieces I’ve ever written, and everyone else will be reading really incredible stuff, so it should be a good time for us all.


This blog is able to remain ad-free because of the awesome community of Awkward Ambassadors on Patreon. If you’d like to become an Awkward Ambassador and receive special perks (like exclusive vlogs or messages from my dog), please click here.

Holy Crap This Thing Is Awesome #3: Stress and Joy with Sabrina

Earlier today, after wrapping up my NaNoWriMo word count for the day, I rewarded myself with some time to catch up on some of my favorite YouTubers. If you watch the vlogbrothers channel, you know that Hank just had a baby and is on paternity leave (yay fatherhood!), so on Fridays, his usual videos are being taken over by the lovely Sabrina from Nerdy and Quirky, and her debut video in this slot was AMAZING.

I'll let you take a moment and watch it right now. In fact, I'll join you.

 

I love everything about this.

Yes, stress can be a bad thing, but... what I love about Sabrina's point is that stress, like fat, comes in good and bad forms.

I am the type of person who performs well when time is of the essence. For example, I've set a goal for myself to write a blog post every Friday, and I'm holding myself to that goal while also trying to attempt NaNoWriMo, while still working a full time job, and working with teens twice a month for a few hours at a time and planning a wedding and saving up to buy a house (or maybe build one) and taking care of a really smart and active dog and reading more and trying to also spread joy and happiness and good vibes in one of the undoubtedly negative periods of our country's recent history. And then there are all the shows on Netflix to catch up on. It's exhausting.

But Sabrina made me realize that if I was doing none of these things, if I was just sitting around and drinking coffee and working on nothing, I would feel no reward. I would get none of the joy that blogging and noveling and bookselling and the wedding planning and everything else brings me.

Good things take work to create, but it's good work. It's fulfilling work -- and when you've worked really hard to get something good, that thing feels so much better.

I'm so glad that I watched this video today and was reminded that some forms of stress are worth having. They are the fires under our asses to get us moving towards the joy in our lives.

So the next time that you're sitting at your desk, wanting to tear your hair out because STUFF ISN'T HOW YOU WANT IT RIGHT NOW, just take a moment and remind yourself why you sat down there in the first place and try to smile even though your blood pressure is rising. Think about what it is you're working towards and why this will all be so worth it.

And remember, you can do it. I believe in you.

Speaking of which, what are you working on that's a source of good stress in your life? Tell me about your happy projects in the comments and let's support each other through it all!

Spread joy, everyone.

*This is an installment of the Holy Crap This Thing Is Awesome series in which I pick one thing that I am loving right now and I tell you all about it because I want more people to be aware of the existence of that person or thing. I do not get paid for these and I pick them purely based on my own interest in them. 

NaNoWriMo Begins!

I've attempted NaNoWriMo in the past and failed. Maybe failed is the harsh term, but either way, I've never actually completed a novel. I've been working on the same book for the past few years on and off and I'm so ready to complete it. I don't want to be done with it in the sense that I want to wash my hands of it or anything, but I'm sick of listening to myself make excuses, so I've decided to do NaNoWriMo a little differently this year. Instead of taking the 30 days to write a 50,000-word novel from start to finish, I'm going to start at word 17, 787 and go from there. I'm going to use NaNoWriMo to freaking finish my novel. It's time to take all those notes and scraps of paper and post-its and actually apply them here and get this shit done.

It's going to be tough. I know that. I'm not one of those writers who just bleeds words and PRESTO!: There's a novel.

No.

I'm one of those writers who whines and cries and bangs her head against the desk and constantly texts her friends saying "I can't do this."

That's the kind of writer I am.

But dammit, sometimes I even text myself back and say "YES YOU CAN! YOU'VE GOT THIS!" and then sad-me responds with "STOP TOYING WITH MY EMOTIONS AND JUST LET THIS DREAM DIE!!" and then the cool-me says "NO! KEEP GOING!" and it goes on like that for a while.

What's my point again? Oh yeah, I'm determined to finish my novel this month and I'm using NaNoWriMo (albeit in an unconventional way, but still) to do it and I hope you're all okay with that.

And if you aren't, well then I'll enjoy being a rebel in your eyes.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? If so, leave a comment below with your NaNo name and I'll buddy you!

Happy writing, all!

***

In other news, here's the new Page Break episode, in which Cole does a book review of the new Garth Nix novel (yay!!) Clariel:

I'm Essentially Just a Giant Failure Who Loves Christmas.

HAPPY DECEMBER, EVERYONE!!! advent1

This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. This and summer. And fall. And Spring.

Okay, I kind of love all the seasons, but the Christmas time is one of the best. For sure.

I started playing Christmas music in my apartment while I decorated today and then I made some cookies that turned out terribly. Martha Stewart is a liar and her recipe did NOT work. Nevermind the fact that I was missing like... half of the appliances she told me to use. I figure that if the woman is willing to lie on her taxes, she has no reason to be truthful to me. Therefore, it's not my fault that these things were gross.

In other news, I failed hardcore at NaNoWriMo, but congrats to those of you who succeeded! Congrats to those of you who worked your asses off to get it done. I'm proud of you all. Me? I chose the worst year to attempt this. I moved on October 25th, started my new job a few days later, which is a retail job, and then decided to attempt to write a novel, all while trying to meet new people and find the grocery store. I am not Wonder Woman.

In other words, this is just a post to say that even though the East Coast has no snow, Christmas is coming and I can't do anything, but I'm still happy. So yay.

So how are all of you?

NaNoWriMo

That's right, Duckies!! It's November! For so many people, this month means Christmas preparations, turkey selections, and training for the biggest shopping marathons of their lives. And then there's the Nano-ers. For us, this month is the most exhilarating challenge of the year: Write a novel (50,000) within the month of November.

Why? Because we're all insane. Obviously. In fact, right now, I'm all "Emelie, stop writing this blog post and just get back to your book. THIS IS WASTING PRECIOUS TIME." But then the other side of me is all "Hey, stop being an asshole. You have to write for the duckies, too, and if you don't,they'll cry." (In  my head, you all cry when you miss me.)

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is because if any of you are embarking upon this amazing writing challenge...

I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT.

Why?

BECAUSE YOU CAN DO THIS.

And when all else fails,

JUST KEEP WRITING.

So many people give up on NaNo because they think that what they write isn't brilliant or wonderful or pulitzer prize worthy. Well, guess what, it's supposed to be a first draft, so cut yourself some slack and JUST. KEEP. WRITING.

If you want to be my buddy on NaNo, find me under the name "Siv Samuelson" and I'll totally buddy you back. This month, we need all the support we can get to power through the writer's blocks.

You ready, duckies? Because I so think we've got this.