An Extra Hour of Writing Time

It’s Sunday morning here and I have no commitments until 10:00, at which time I’ll be hiking with a friend.

I awoke, on my own, with no alarm, at 5:56. My first thought was, “Yes! A bit of time to lounge in bed and write.” After grabbing the laptop, I arranged three pillows behind my back, tucked the comforter around my legs, put my fourth pillow on my lap, and put the laptop atop the pillow. The pillow puts the laptop at the right height for typing. More importantly, it keeps my legs from sizzling beneath the heat of that little machine.

I plugged the laptop into the extension cord that dangles over my headboard. (You know you’re a writer when you allow for an extension cord to emit electrical particles into your head all night long, just so you’ll be ready to write when you can, while in bed, early in the mornings, late at night.)

I signed up, last-minute with nary a thought, for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is in November of each year. I’m not writing a novel, but I want to continue with my memoir. The expectation is to pound out 50,000 words in one month. I’m hoping and praying NaNoWriMo won’t kick me out once they hear mine is a memoir and not a novel. And, I’m not sure what the penalty will be for not making it to 50,000 words. I pray it’s not jail time. Community service seems more appropriate.

Still, I’m getting started today. Two days late. November 3.

I opened my document–Every Other Weekend Mother–and saw that it is 32,767 words long at this point. I wrote most of those words last summer when I was off from teaching.

I started to do what I always do when I open this document. I began reading. I started at the top and read as if I was going to read the entire 60-some pages. I always want to make sure it sounds good. I changed a few words here and there, but mostly I was just reading, because a lot of this is already at the point where I want it to be. I’ve revised it several times already.

“STOP!” I tell myself. “Stop reading! You’re supposed to be writing!’

It’s NaNoWriMo, not NaNoReMo.

True. I’ll never make 50,000 words, or even a few thousand, if I do this every time before getting started.

I needed to do some organizational work here, I determined, before I could effectively settle into this NaNoWriMo challenge. I decided to take this 32,767 word-, 60-some page-, 20-some chapter document and break it into several different files.

I spent a good hour copying each chapter into a new document and saving it as a separate file. After that, I believed, when I opened this baby up to start writing it wouldn’t be as tempting to begin by first reading every chapter that I’ve already written.

Then, I was ready, ready to start! I opened up a NEW document, an empty white rectangle, no words there to read. Words just needed to be added. Written.

I wrote. I got lost, I was trying to do what NaNoWriMo encourages–not think, not revise, not wordsmith, just write. Get it out. Get it on the paper. Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stay out of the thesaurus, couldn’t not edit and revise a bit as I went. That’s how writing works for me.

Suddenly, I panicked. Oh my gosh, what time was it? Should I be showered and fed and ready to go by now? It was dark when I started all this. My curtains were pulled. I saw then that it was quite light beyond the plaid window covering.Time Change

A glance at the clock. 8:05. Phew. Plenty of time to write a little more and then get up and get going. Maybe I could write more after my hike.

A few more sentences and then I noticed that the time on my laptop, in the lower right corner, was 7:13.

Confusion, then elation. 7:13!

I forgot! I forgot that the time changed over night, that I gained an hour. I double checked on my cell phone. Yep, it was indeed 7:13.

A whole extra hour to write that I wasn’t counting on. I smiled, amused at what I was thinking. In past years, it was always an extra hour of sleep. The time change occurs overnight and that, in the fall, translates to one additional hour of time passing while we slumber it away.

But this year, this fall, I’m all wrapped up with my writing, and I definitely took this hour as the gift of an extra hour of writing time.

Watch out NaNoWriMo, here I come!

New Month Resolutions

Blogging every day in October turned out to be a major light bulb for me–

SETTING A GOAL AND COMMITTING TO IT FOR ONE MONTH IS PRETTY DANG DOABLE!

I stuck with it because a distinct end was in sight and I knew I could survive the short length of time before I was able to return to tending the neglected areas of my life.

And I didn’t realize this yesterday, on the last day of October, and it didn’t hit me until I woke up today and it was the first day of a brand new month, but every month is the perfect reason to try something new, to set a goal and stick with it.

So here it is November 1st and the calendar is screaming at me, “Opportunity!” I know I hinted that I would clean and cook during this month, since these two things went by the wayside during October, but you didn’t really believe that nonsense, did you? Me neither.

I have some better ideas. I am calling these my November Resolutions and I’m already thinking the heck with New Year’s Resolutions, from now on I’m going strictly with New Month Resolutions.

November Resolution #1 – NaNoWriMonanowrimo

Shortly after I posted my last NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) post, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I knew nothing, really, about NaNoWriMo. Something came through my inbox about it yesterday and I started reading. The goal, as I understand it, is to pound out 50,000 words–the length of a short novel–during the month of November. I am not writing a novel, but I did start a memoir last summer that I figure I can continue working on for this. I doubt I’ll add another 50,000 words to it by the end of the month, but this I do know–if signing up results in me adding another 1,000 or 10,000 or 25,000 words, then the NaNoWriMo will have served its purpose of motivating me and giving me the confidence to move forward with the memoir. Also, I believe the rationale behind NaNoWriMo is to get as much down as possible, as fast as you can, and then go back and tweak words and perfect sentences and all that later on. This is exactly the encouragement I need. I tend to want to get things as good as I can as I’m going and that really doesn’t make sense with a full length book because some of the original content could be cut anyway.

November Resolution #2 – The Racquetball Tally

My friend and I have played racquetball two or three times a week for about three years now. We have a ton of fun with it, mostly because we are so well matched. He wins about half of the games and so do I. This morning when I went to the gym, right after the whole first day of a brand new month hit me, I told him we should keep a tally this month of how many games we’re winning against each other. I don’t recall him agreeing to it, per se, but… it’s happening! We both played harder than usual, I do know that.

Psst. Just for the record, which I will periodically post, I am ahead three games to one.

November Resolution #3 – My Fitness Pal and The Seven Minute Workout

I need to lose those few pounds I gained while sitting on my butt writing all of October. So, in addition to my regular exercise, I am going to monitor my calorie intake with the My Fitness Pal app and try to do the Seven Minute Workout app daily. The latter works on body parts that running and swimming and racquetball don’t.

There they are, my November resolutions. I’m putting them out there. And even though I realize that probably not many of you would have noticed or cared had I not posted something on my blog every single day in October, and therefore you won’t be keeping track of whether I stick with these new resolutions, the fact that I announced the post-a-day kept me motivated and held me accountable, just as, hopefully, this will during all of November.

Now, what are you planning on doing with your November?