It’s National Novel Writing Month, which is a program that tries to get folks that want to write a novel motivated enough to put aside excuses and start writing. There are a few general rules, but it boils down to solo writing a minimum of 50,000 words of a new story in 30 days. It’s held every November and you can find much more information and still join at www.nanowrimo.org. And don’t fret about already being behind. There’s no such thing as being ahead or behind, in my opinion. It’s too easy to catch up or fall behind to either beat yourself up or take it easy. Just keep writing and don’t stress about word counts.
It’s a fantastic program, with tons of support, tips and advice available on their forums. I participated in 2008 and 2009, having won in 2009. By the way, winning simply means that you were able to write 50,000 words. I cannot recommend this adventure highly enough. Many write to have a novel to publish or podcast, but mine was purely cathartic. I will never show the novel to anyone other than my hubby, but it is still something I’m extremely proud of having written. It healed some uglies on my inside, which was the point.
This year, between college courses, doing freelance work for Patrick McLean, managing my health issues and a household, my schedule is very tight and I’m very behind on everything. That is why I decided over a month ago that I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo. Then I got this idea for a story that has been tinkling in the back of my mind, nearly constantly. I decided to try NaNo, even though knew that I wouldn’t win. There’s just not enough time. I figured any words I got down by tapping into the collective community support would be a win in my situation. Besides, I won last year when I was just starting down the path of finding out what my illness was, so why not?
Why not? Well, in my time calculations, I left out exercise. My work outs take a big toll on my day. The exercise time itself isn’t so bad, but the recovery time after I exercise is the big time suck. I’m dizzy, migraine-y and extremely fatigued so I just grab a tall cool drink and relax until the extreme symptoms pass. It can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours for this to happen before I can resume my day. On rare occasions, it doesn’t pass and my day is shot, other than being proud of myself for the workout.
My total exercise time includes stretching, anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour on the street or up to 90 minutes on the recumbent bike (when I’m too dizzy to run, I just hold on and pedal), stretching after, the Hundred Push-Up Challenge, core stretches and 100 or more crunches. This is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I take long neighborhood walks (3 mile minimum), do arm weights and floor work (stretches/crunches/core work). I try and do a long walk at least one day on the weekend, but that rarely works out with our busy schedule of late. If anything is planned for the afternoon or evening I just can’t risk having to cancel if my symptoms don’t clear up.
I follow this schedule as closely as I can. On average, I have to cancel a workout a few times a week because of a migraine or dizziness that has me nauseous. Last week, I only worked out four days instead of the planned six. Because of the unpredictable variable, I give my all when I work out, reminding myself that it may be the last one for several days.
I am nearly ALWAYS dizzy after a workout, sometimes leading to a migraine and/or extreme fatigue and sometimes not. This is the reason I gave up going to the track. It’s not safe to drive after I exercise because of the dizziness, so I only do neighborhood workouts now.
Now, I did attempt some writing on Monday, which was the start of NaNoWriMo. I spent most of the time researching my naming convention for my characters but did manage to get a little over 200 words down. I was happy for that, as I needed to get the image down before I forgot it. Migraine had me put it away at that point.
Yesterday was extreme dizziness and migraine, so I missed class and skipped exercise. No words written as any amount of time on the computer and the bright glow from it spiked the brain pain and the meds were completely useless. I was starting to stress over getting even my reduced goals met. It occurred to me that I could regain some time for writing by cutting back on exercise. When I realized that was the only way to find writing time, I knew it was time to walk away from NaNo this year. Exercise is the only thing that brings me any sense of normalcy right now. Even though it has gotten to extreme levels of illness, my doctor fully endorses it and believes as I do that improving my overall health will make my life better.
I still have some writing to do before I put it away. There are some scenes that I’ve got to get typed up before I forget them. And I would like to name all the characters, as I think that will help give them flavor as I give the story itself time to simmer away in the back of my mind.
As I planned a few months ago, I’ll likely pick a month in the Spring as my own personal NaNoWriMo. November is hell for this type of thing, in my life anyways, with the holidays so close that you can taste them. And plan for them. And clean for them. And decorate, and stress, and… you get the idea.
Reply in the comments if you’d like to write along with me in the Spring. April has thirty days, right?