NaNoWriMo Post Mortem

When I set out on this sea of words this month I had some goals.

I was going to use the game of NaNoWriMo to get some long-delayed writing projects off the tarmac and into the air. Here’s what I wanted to do:

1. Write the book about “Projects” that has been rattling around in my brain for ever.
2. Refocus my blog.
3. Do the exercises in the book Theme Weaver.
4. Write the little e-book about “How to Prepare for Your First Yoga class. “
5. Design 8 “themed” yoga classes for a Yoga for Beginners series that I will package and offer online.

So I just validated and “won” NaNoWriMo. Omg, I am so tired.

So how did I do on my goals?

1. I now have a really good first draft for my Projects book. This is the thing that makes me the happiest. I will spend the month of December editing it, and have it ready to ship by mid January.

2. I finally have a clear vision for my blog now, and 10 post ideas that need to be fleshed out and written. It was really hard work sussing out what I wanted to do with InspirationLocation, but I finally fixed it, in my head, and in writing.

3. The Theme Weaver exercises were surprisingly time-consuming and difficult but also interesting. I now have my Yoga Bio, my Mission Statement and I have articulated my Brand. And even though I realize that this process is ongoing, what makes me happiest is that I now can theme my classes in alignment with my beliefs and values. This feels new. This feels solid. This makes me feel more grounded as a teacher.

4. My little ebook is just about done. A few finishing touches and it will be ready to “ship” in January as well.

5. The 8 themed classes for the Beginner Series is my most embryonic project at the moment. I have 8 themes roughly sketched but this one will need a lot more and time and nurturance to flesh out before it will be ready to ship.

Now I get all philosophical about writing

I am so happy about what happened this month, and what I was able to accomplish. (I am ebullient, actually.) Without the game of NaNo I would not have done all this work.

People say that writing is hard and they are right. It is hard because thinking is hard and writing is nothing more than thinking onto a page. The hard thing about thinking is facing the depressing reality that you really don’t think clearly at all. And that your thinking is a mess. And all over the place.

What you want to believe is that your ideas flow logically and smoothly. This is the beast you have to wrestle every time you start to write anything.

I wish writing was just a matter of just tapping on a keyboard, or scribbling with a pen. But it’s not. Writing is thinking.

But it’s even worse than than that.

Because not only do you want your ideas to be clear, you want them to sparkle.

You want your words to engage, to move people to action, or to tears, or even to hysterics. This is the artistry part. And this will never happen unless you devote your life to it; unless you sit down everyday and work at it.

But that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.

What I discovered doing NaNo this year is that I kind of enjoy doing this kind of work.  I like trying to articulate my ideas and make them sparkle on the page, even if the outcome is dismal at first.

I like writing the  way some people like splitting wood. It’s hard, yeah, but in the end you get something that warms the cockles of your heart.

But it is still stupid hard.

Know what I wish? I wish I was smarter. I wish my ideas flowed like buttah. I wish I wasn’t so wordy. I wish I was a more agile thinker.

Practice and all is coming (Patabhi Jois)

But what I discovered this month is that, with practice, I can up my thinking game. I can become more agile and adept just by persistently trying to articulate my ideas in a clear and sparkly way. I can become a better thinker just by practicing.

Writing sucks, but editing is fun.

I now have 50K words that look a lot like a dog’s dinner. There are a lot of words in that document that need an enormous amount of editing before they are ready for Prime Time.

But editing is the fun part for me. Editing is polishing rough ideas to a high luster, whereas writing is the laborious pick and shovel work of mining for ideas in very dark and uncomfortable places.

There were days this month when I’d have to pull myself out of editing mode by the ponytail. I would get all involved with polishing sentences and suddenly notice that an hour had passed and I had only written 50 words of my mandatory 2K daily word count. Yikes.

Editing during NaNo is is big NoNo.

Brain fat gone

Before NaNo I was feeling flabby in my brain. I didn’t realize how flabby I had become until I started cranking a daily 2K word count. Now I feel all toned up, rocking a brain six-pack. Boo-yah.

I did not do this alone.

People got me through this month:
Technology got me through this month:
Things made my life sweeter and got me through this month.

The breakdown:

Edie. Rick Jarow said, “You can only go as far forward as there are people standing behind you.” These are the truest words ever spoken.
Edie made dinner, walked Boomer, cleaned the house, did my laundry, even made the whole Thanksgiving dinner without any help from me.
She did this so I could sit and crank words . She unfailingly backs my projects. She always believes in me. And it’s not just in that cutesy, “I believe in you, honey” lip-servicey way. It’s in that real-world, practical, “Let’s get this done and let me be of real help to you” way. She made sure the the conditions were right for words to happen. Without her I would probably have scabies and be strung out on caffeine.

Scrivener. About 5 years ago I downloaded this fancy-schmancy word processing app called Scrivener. It promised to revolutionize the way I wrote and did research. But after I downloaded it and spent hours and hours messing around with it, I still couldn’t understand how to do even a fraction of what I knew this software was capable of.

I wound up buying a really unhelpful book; I dinked around with it some more, but it wound up languishing on my task bar because I came to see it as nothing more than a source of hair-pulling frustration. I could never make it work the way it was supposed to work.

This September I saw an ad for a program called “LearnScrivenerFast” by a guy named Joseph Michael. The testimonials for this program were ridiculous; the hype was solidly in the too-good-to-be-true zone. I was really intrigued, but also really, really skeptical.

But in the back of my mind NaNo was looming, and along with it, visions of how wonderful it would be to finally be able to use Scrivener and take advantage of all its neat tricks. My thinking was I that could kill NaNo if I could only work in Scrivener, rather than in crappy Word.

So I bought the hype and bought the program. I even went for the “Ninja Package.” Price: $200.

And??

BEST MONEY I EVER SPENT, OMG!

No, really. This Joseph Michael guy is freaking brilliant. His teaching method is so understandable, and he breaks all this complicated content down into 3 or 4 minute video chunks.
And this allows you to stop the little videos at any point, go into Scrivener, road test the lesson for yourself, then resume.

And best of all, I now have access to all these tutorials any time I want them, so if I ever forget how to do something, or want to go deeper into an element of the program, it is super easy to find the particular tutorial where he addresses the issue.

Have I mentioned that this is a great program? People, this is a great program.

Totally worth the money if you are a writer. Scrivener is very cool, but its learning curve is wicked steep and it really taxed my patience and forebearance. But now that I know how to use it, I cannot live without it.

Oh, and one more bonus thing Scrivener does: It plays really nicely with Evernote, which is my all time favorite info-gathering app.

So, deep bow of gratitude to you, Joseph Michael and your LearnScrivenerFast program. Kudos!

Books
There were a 5 books that I had at my elbow all month:
Theme Weaver by Michelle Marchildon
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Ship it by Seth Godin

I knew that Theme Weaver was going to be a big player this month because I set as one of my writing goals to go through all her exercises and figure myself out. I only got through half of the book, but that half was such a rich and productive journey that I am really looking forward to finishing it this winter.

Austin Kleon is my total idol at the moment. I love both of his books, find them deeply inspiring, and when my energy was sagging and I was feeling frustrated, I would read a few chapters in either one of his two books and feel instantly amped.

His Show Your Work will be the bible for my what my newly envisioned blog is going to be: a showing of my work as I work through my projects.

For vanquishing procrastination I always resort to the big gun, The War of Art. That book never fails to get me down to business. Never.

In this last week, as it was looking more certain that I would actually “win” NaNo this year, I dug up Seth Godin’s little booklet, Ship It and I am keeping this handy now because this month will mean nothing at all unless, and until I Ship.

Vince Nance
I eliminated all fun social interactions like lunches and meetings for coffee this month. The only thing I left on my schedule besides my yoga teaching was my training sessions with Vince Nance. About a month ago I started strength training under his guidance and it has been an fun, enlivening and an eye-opening adventure. Thanksgiving and a party in Connecticut have kept me away from the gym for the last 2 weeks though, so I cannot wait to resume. The body gets mighty cranky from cranking on words. Time for some functional exercise!

The “Little Things
My Poang chair and Levenger lap desk up in my cozy room.
My little chiminea-shaped space heater that kept my room so warm and toasty. Like a womb.
My Verismo espresso maker and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee. The best!

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It was a great month. Intense, but great. Tomorrow December begins, and with it all new projects!

Thanks for indulging me in this long blow-hard of a post. 

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