Sometimes Moving Ahead, Means Putting Behind
Sometimes Moving Ahead, Means Putting Behind
These past two months have been like most of 2020. Different.
It’s bad enough to have the pandemic hanging over our heads like an umbrella blocking the sunshine we seek. Add to that Thanksgiving and Christmas and even the most Pollyannaish of us can struggle. (Tom always considered me the ultimate Pollyanna.)
I did not want this year to get the better of me. And it could have. The final quarter of 2020 dawned poised to do just that.
Long ago I learned that the things you leave undone are the things that make you tired. I wrote about that in a post called "A Good Kind of Tired" a few weeks ago. You can read that post by clicking HERE. I had “things left undone” on my proverbial to-do list. Things left undone for six years. And the effect was far more than “tiring.”
It was draining.
Finish the Race
I shared a few weeks ago that I set out to complete The Edge of Quiet in October. It was the book I started right before my husband died.
I also planned to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. It was also something I anticipated doing in November, 2014 but never did.
You know my story. I've shared it before. On October 29, 2014, I sat at my desk setting my goals for the days of NaNoWriMo and the writing of The Edge of Quiet.Two hours later, Tom died from injuries he sustained when his bicycle went off the road and threw him into a tree.
Of course I didn’t write. I was working to put one foot in front of the other. I was trying to breathe without that invisible heavy stone crushing me. Blocking every breath from reaching my lungs. I still find it amazing my heart continued to beat. I was broken.
If it had even made my list of things to do, writing a book during that time would have landed in the last spot.
Tom and I had talked about the premise of The Edge of Quiet. We both thought it could well be my best book to date. It followed me through the next few years as a job left undone.
I did not write the book.
I did not participate in NaNoWriMo.
As I've said, the things we leave undone are the things that make us tired. And anxious.
It is important to FINISH THE RACE.
I was tired of being tired. I simply knew this was the year I would make a change. I made a plan to write and finish The Edge of Quiet by the end of October. And I did.
I decided I would craft the first draft of its companion book during NaNoWriMo in November. 50,000 words in a month. And I did it.
The two pieces of my life, left dangling and taunting me since 2014 are behind me now. There is no magic in completing a book or finishing a challenge, but for me there is closure.
Things I had left undone are now finished.
Finished brings with it a sense of peace.
And with peace comes renewed energy.
But there is more.
The two books I crafted these past two months are totally different from others I've written.
I also applied a few new writing strategies to get the job done. to finish the race. I share them here. Maybe they will help you, too.
1) If I want to get a certain number of words down...turn off the self-editor. Ignore the misspelled words my computer is underlining in red and get the idea down. I can always go back and fix spelling. I can't always go back and recapture a great idea.
2) I learned to "journal" a book. Every morning after I read my Bible and had a cup a coffee, I opened a small journal and wrote thoughts on the book, the experience, what I thought was going on to motivate a character. I could have counted these words toward the Nano project, but didn't. I found them to help me think through the next part of the story and get my creative juices flowing so I could write my 1667 words each day without the stress of facing a blank screen.
3) Though it is intense, NaNoWriMo is a good lesson in consistency. We all know if we want to complete...anything...we must tackle the job and be consistent. Writing 30 days in a row got me into that mode of consistency.
4) Sometimes it is best to take the story you though you were writing, print it out, cut it apart and put it back together. That happened with The Edge of Quiet. I threw away sluggish parts and enhanced more exciting parts.
These are lessons I will take with me to my next project. Maybe not with the intensity, but they work: Write the story, journal the book, be consistent, and don't be afraid to get rid of what isn't working.
What is it you always thought you’d do, but have yet to put behind you?