On a cold November night, the glow from my computer monitor and the clack of the keys were the only indication that something was awake at three in the morning.
The story excited me. It was different and out of my comfort zone of chick lit. I had tried my hand at mystery writing, a genre I knew one day I would end up in. And it fit better than a glove.
That was my second experience with National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short. It was the first time I really took it serious (the first time was a disaster.).
Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the intended goal—50,000 words in November—but for a beginning writer the exercise highlighted the cracks in my preparation. It showed me what I needed to concentrate on and what if really took to finish a book. Among the lessons I learned is that writing needs to happen every day, regardless of fatigue or social calendar. If writing is the priority is needs to be a priority. It deserves nothing less.
So this year, when I made the decision to give it another go, I was determined to win thinking that my previous experience and my journalism writing skills would help.
I was wrong.
Now, toward the tail end of the first week, I find myself behind by a day and stumped in chapter two of my novel. Not a good sign.
It seemed that the lessons I learned the first time were the ones I quickly forgot. But what freaked me out is that I had lost my discipline. That was disturbing.
For a day job, I write for a newspaper. I work in the world of harsh writer’s realities—deadlines, cynical editors, literature in a hurry.
To succeed despite the landmines, tenacity (read: stubbornness )is needed. Focus. Determination. Time management. All the things that should make me a successful
But I’m still behind.
I’ve read other journalists turned authors that the skills they learned being reporters have help them adjust to the writing life. What they failed to talk about is the self-editing.
With shrinking newsrooms, reporters have to self-edit themselves more now than ever. And when that self-edit is on deadline, it happens as the story is being written.
So my problem is calming my self-editor–chaining her up, dumping her in a boat and let it float away. That has been difficult. Even as I write this now, my self-editor is over my shoulder, reading every word.
So here’s to relearning the lesson and the disabling of my editor.