NaNoWriMo and The Blog

This year, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row, but this time I won. For those that don’t know NaNoWriMo is National Novel Riding Month, where you write 50K words in a month. I had a good time with it. I had a productive solo writing retreat up near Mt. Rainier and was able to finish a rough first draft.

So, I feel good about that.

Unfortunately, due to this and other reasons, my blog has fallen by the way side.

For the past few months, I have been trying to maintain consistent, weekly blog posts. The past few weeks I have failed to do that. Part of the reason was because of NaNoWriMo, but the other reason is something I have yet to uncover. I’m hoping that, by writing about it, maybe I’ll figure it out.

But let me first circle back to Nano.

For some, NaNoWriMo is a real struggle. They have a hard time getting words on the page each day. It’s true that writing isn’t easy. It can be a grueling struggle at times.

I didn’t have that much trouble during Nano. This can be attributed to the following things:

Outlining

I spent a solid month outlining before I started writing the book, so, for the most part, the words flowed onto the page. I didn’t have to sit and think about what to write. I already knew the main purpose of each scene so I worked to get to that point. It made the writing process much easier. And because I already knew what my endpoint was, it freed me up to think about and sprinkle in new details here and there. It made for much more efficient writing sessions.

Growing Confidence

Another reason I can get words on the page is because slowly, but surely, I am gaining confidence in myself and my abilities. Part of this comes from the fact that I take care of myself. I value myself. Therefore, I value the work I do. While I’m working on a book I don’t think about whether or not I’m writing cliches or how my work will be received or even if the words make complete sense. I’m not worried about how the work will be viewed. I’m just doing the work, knowing that it is a continual growth process. When I come back around for the second draft, I can clean things up–and by then, I’ll have grown even more (hopefully).

Routine

As I have said before, my writing routine is the most important part of my process. I already write every day, so doing NaNoWriMo was just a way to sprinkle in a little extra fun. There’s something satisfying about updating your word count each day and watching the bars on the graph get bigger. Because of this, I didn’t put a bunch of extra pressure on myself to finish. That’s not to say I didn’t make it a priority–quite the opposite, in fact. I made sure to not do any recreational activities until I spent time writing. The important thing is that I showed up every day to work toward reaching 50K, which was made easier because it was already part of my routine.

The Struggle Is Real

If you don’t feel confident in your writing it may be time to step back. Try to evaluate other parts of your life. How do you view yourself? Do you consider yourself a healthy individual? How much time do you spend doing things that could be considered time-wasters? Are you learning new things every day?

If your answers are not positive then it might be time to start thinking about how you treat yourself.

Are you trying?

This is something I have to ask myself regularly, especially as it pertains to my blogging habits. I would like to increase the quality of my posts, but it takes time to get good.

So I had to sit and think about why my blogging was falling off my radar.

One might think that the obvious reason is because I was hard working on my Nano novel (and I was), but the two main reasons are:

I had run out of things to talk about.

I had too many things to talk about.

Let me explain.

I Had Run Out of Things to Talk About

I needed to think about the purpose of this blog. The main themes consist of my experiences in self-improvement and writing.

So, why was I running out of things to talk about? Had I run out of self-improvement insight? Surely there was more to learn.

Was it that my growth has become stagnant? This was certainly a possibility.  I feel like I’ve hit a plateau in my exercise routines and need to push myself harder, for instance.

So I feel that stagnation played a part.

Another reason is that there are other things besides self-improvement that I am interested in writing about.

Too Many Things to Talk About

The other side of the coin is that I have a whole lot of drafts covering many different topics. I have started writing them, but none of them have enough meat to provide anything meaningful yet.

They are ideas in development that require more research, study and asking around. And that takes time. I don’t want to just whip out an ill-informed post about an important topic.

I need to do more research (and likely peer review) to ensure a good post.

In Short

That being said, I think I need to somehow create a balance with this blog, containing light topics I can post each week, mixed in with weightier topics that take more time and research.

So, looking back at these two things: the main reason Nano was not a huge struggle for me is because I had an outline. On the flip side, I do not have much of an outline, if any, when I blog. I have a large number of drafts of different topic ideas, but none of them are outlined.

The conclusion I have come to is that I need to outline what I blog about, perhaps find some templates online. I also need to develop a better outline for my life in general. I have been experimenting with scheduling my weekend days down to the hour, and seeing if I can get more done that day. I am going to keep that up and see how it goes. It will probably be worth it for me to look into various goal setting and reward systems, as well.