Why hello there! It's been a few months since I've participated in the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Summer was a bit crazy and it was best that I stepped away for a while. To be perfectly honest, I just haven't felt much like writing.
So I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month). I should have known that life would get even more hectic and it has (more on that in a future post). I typed a little one Day One. I eked out a few words in pencil on Day Two. Days Three and Four were a bust but I was able to talk to a writer friend a little about writing so I'm not counting those days as a total loss.
As I wandered through Day Five (this past Monday), I had a head cold and had pushed myself too much the day before hiking in the rain. That morning, before heading out to run errands, I clicked on an email from the NaNo admins and saw this quote:
That resonated with me. If you're like me, you want writing to be glamorous. We float down the hall to our writing room, coffee in hand, sit at the computer and away we type, glorious sentence after glorious sentence. The truth is that many times we have a great idea but the minute we start to put it on paper it misses the mark. I'll have these lovely scenes all mapped out in my mind but the minute I start to type, it sounds like I've lost all ability to communicate coherently. To be blunt, the words suck and I'm left with a mess that doesn't resemble the story in my head.
Gardening is a lot of work. You have to prepare the soil, the yard, the garden area. You have to get the plants are start the seeds. You have to plant them, water them, keep them alive until their roots are established and can stand up without fear of losing them in the next mild storm. Then you have to weed and watch and harvest, all the while continuing to tend the ground around you, trimming and plucking, planting and pruning. And that's how we have to go at writing. Unless you buy a house with a mature garden already in tact, you're going to have to do a lot of work to get your yard exactly how you want it. Cottage gardens aren't born over night; it takes years to get that lovely explosion of color and texture. Novels aren't completed in a month. A draft? Sure! I've done it many times. But after the drafting – the seed starting, the rooting, the watering – you have to tend to those words and help them grow.
So what's the point? What's the key to both of these projects? Patience and the willingness to go to the computer (or the garden) a little bit every day. You have to look at the writing, the gardening, the process as important. Even ten minutes a day will get your closer to the words The End than doing nothing. Just because you can't finish a novel in a day doesn't mean you can't work on it daily. Believe that what you're doing is important and it will become important to you. It will become something that you can be proud of, something that will begin to grow, and sprout leaves and then one day you'll see the buds form and flowers will burst forth and you'll realize all those gorgeous blossoms are there because you took the time to tend them and you didn't give up on then when they were just spindly little twigs sticking up out of the cold, hard earth.
Think of every idea as a seed, every word as part of the tending. Think of your stories as plants that need water and fertilizer and weeding 'round the roots. Allow your stories to take root so that they'll grow in strength, in your mind and on the screen. And as you tend them, you'll start to see them change and you'll recognize them by their flowers. When the time comes, you'll get to harvest them – send them off to agents and publishers – and see what kind of beauty and nourishment they can bring you and those around you.
But you can't get tomatoes if you don't plant the seedlings. And you can't get a novel if you don't sit down, day by day, and write the story, word by word.
PS: If you're interested, I'm chronicling my NaNo journey on my Instagram account @jenchandlerwashere. Feel free to click over and join in!