NaNo Roundup (And Remembering to Look Back)

Happy December!

To all those who completed NaNo last month, CONGRATULATIONS! You're awesome. Whether you wrote 1K, 50K, or 100K, you made progress and that's an incredible thing.

For me, November turned out to be an...interesting month. The short version is that I ultimately decided to forgo doing NaNoWriMo. I wrote about 5K on one story, but the writing felt miserable (which was a new feeling for me) so I took some time off to figure out what was wrong with it. During that break, I first realized I started that book in the wrong place. While also on that break, the voice for another book idea that had been simmering in my head for about a year jumped into my headspace and demanded to be written. I wrote about 11K in three days and...stalled out.

This writing thing, folks, it's quite the ride.

I stalled out on Book Idea #2 because, while I had a cool character and a fun voice, I didn't really have much of a plot. I have a basic idea now, but still need some time to flesh it out before I start writing again. I'm also waiting on notes for The Trial so I can dig into the second round of edits (which I'm really excited to do).

But right now? Procrastination station.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you may have gathered that I'm a bit of a workaholic. This often means I feel guilty when I take any length of time off. So the last couple weeks of basically no writing?

Bring on the guilt.

As I was wallowing in the guilt today, feeling frustrated because I couldn't decide whether to get invested in Book Idea #2 or just wait until my notes come in for TT so I can do edits, I came to a realization:

It's totally okay to chill and take a break!

The conventional wisdom in writing is that whenever you're waiting, you should start work on the next project. I've typically been pretty good about that. Both times when I finished revising my novels and started querying, I started a new project shortly thereafter. I keep busy. I don't wait the 2-6+ months of querying to start something new. In general, I think this is a good thing. It takes my mind off from the query process (which is full of tons of ups and downs). But this time? I need to remind myself that it's okay to not start something new while I'm waiting to do edits again. 

I think writers in general--or at least me in particular--tend to focus forward. We focus on What's Next and the Next Big Step. Whether that's writing the next novel, getting an agent, getting a book deal, etc. While this isn't a bad thing, sometimes it's a good idea to look back at what we've already done.

In the two years since I started writing, I've accomplished a lot. I've written three novels. I completely revised and queried two of those novels. The second of which got an amazing full request rate that makes me really proud. And while I'm still unagented, I have high hopes for my querying chances with the Trial, once it's fully revised and polished (hopefully by Spring '15). It's okay if I don't write a fourth book until book three is out in the query trenches.

It's okay.

*takes a deep breath*

It is O-K.

I'm not going to pressure myself into finishing a new story this month (she says, trying to convince herself). I'm going to relax, enjoy the holiday season, and wait for notes so I can do round two of edits on the Trial.

So whether you're in an awesome routine, writing every day and making great progress or if you're taking a break from writing for the time being, take a moment and reflex on all you've accomplished so far. Celebrate the progress you've made, even if you've got your eye on what's ahead.

Be kind to yourselves, whether writing or filling your creative well.

-Isabel