The life of a writer can be a lonely one. Most of us find ourselves locked in a room daily for hours on end just us and our characters. Personally, I have to at time remind myself and others that this is a career. I’ve got deadlines to meet, even if a lot of them are self-imposed. Like every job, a writer needs to put in the time to get the work done. As I said at the outset writing can be lonely. I try to block out time daily to the craft of writing. During that writing time, I try to keep distractions to a minimum. Most days that’s easier said than done. I’ve got a 2-year-old great niece running around and a little dog that both want my attention. My parents always have questions or need my help with this or that, and I’ve got appointments coming out of my ears. You know normal life stuff. I find that writing is time management on steroids. Some days I can sit in my chair with my dog on my lap and crank out words onto the page easy. Unfortunately, the majority of days the distractions of home and the feeling of cabin fever drives me insane.
Last October I was having the hardest time getting any work done on my latest book in the CISA series. I decided that it was time for me to try something different. I put the project in the drawer that is the cloud and started a new project. I had heard about a writing challenge years ago but hadn’t gotten around to trying it. I decided to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo, is a yearly writing challenge that takes place every November to write 100,000 words in that month. While I was working on the project I found it difficult to be at home. Distractions were just everywhere. I went to my local Starbucks. I went from a quiet room to a busy coffee shop with people coming and going, coffee grinders, and the noise of conversations that not even my noise-canceling headphones could completely drown out, however being away from my normal surroundings just allowed my creative juices flow. The best part about NaNoWriMo for me was I got to meet a very supportive bunch of fellow Wrimos, other writers working on projects for NaNoWriMo. We met several times a week at other coffee shops or libraries to just work on our projects and motivate each other. It was so helpful to sometimes just stop working for an hour. I’d talk to these fellow writers. Sometimes we talked about our projects, but most of the time we discussed what works or doesn’t work for us. Even though a lot of us completed our NaNoWriMo goal of 100,000 words, some fell short. One thinks I personally feel that we all benefited from the comradely of peers that understood the struggles that writers deal with. Writing is a lonely job, but you don’t have to always go at it alone. I completed my project with three days to spare but better yet I learned new ways to improve my writing process. I turned those skills back to the project that was killing me in October and after modifying the original story to fit these new tools I found myself back on track. Now when distractions get in my way at home I pack up my go bag and head to a coffee shop with the goal of getting some words in. I admit that sometimes my 2000 are on my novels, this blog, something I’m working on something for one of the charities I support, but some days it’s just writing in my personal journal.
There are two lessons I hope that everyone can take away from this story. First, you have to be determined not to let life’s distractions get in your way. Writing is a career. It’s your job and you need to treat it as such. You need to put in the time and effort if you want to tell a quality story. Secondly, every writer should have someone that they can talk to. Someone that they can share their experiences and skills with, and receive the same from them. Always keep an open mind. Our knowledge of the craft of writing is fluid. It can and will evolve to fit what works for us. We just need to be open to suggestions. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk your story out or to try another method of attacking your writing process. You can always go back to your habits if that works best for you. But you may find something that will improve the quality or consistency of your writing.