I’ve fallen way behind on the Continuing Professional Development program, cpd 23, 23 Things for Professional Development. I’ll aim to catch up this week.
Next up, Thing 5 – Reflective Practice.
Reflective writing is not a new practice for me. I kept a paper journal from 1986 until late last year (44 volumes!). For a few months, I continued journaling at 750 Words and recently I’ve started typing a daily journal entry into Evernote. Apparently, I can’t think unless I’m writing letters to myself. With the change to computer-based journaling, I often keep up a running commentary on my day, using reflective writing as a way to help me make decisions, large and small.
Since I finished Camp NaNoWriMo today, I think I will use the process outlined in Thing 5 to reflect on that experience.
1. Recall it
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I’ve participated, and “won” by meeting the goal, for the last three years and plan to this year as well. Camp NaNoWriMo is a new concept this year, a lower key version of NaNoWriMo for July and August.
For some reason, I felt more free to be a “NaNo Rebel” for the Camp experience. Instead of writing a fresh novel from beginning to end, I built my world and invented back story for my characters from my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel. I’ve been trying all year to work on a rewrite of that thing and it hasn’t been going well. This was my opportunity to go back and figure out some bits that were making it difficult to proceed. I intend for my 2011 NaNoWriMo project to be a novel in the same world, so I also used some of my 50,000 words for character and plot development for that work.
2. Evaluate it
What did you learn? I learned that I can write 50,000 words in another month besides November and it doesn’t overwhelm my month. In fact, NaNoWriMo features a lot of write-ins. Without those, my life was less challenged by my writing this month than it is in November.
What did you enjoy? I enjoyed the days where the writing flowed most easily. Those were generally the days when I was focusing on characters.
What worked well? Writing with books. A common piece of advice to writers is “Quit reading about writing as soon as possible.” And, I’m sure it’s good advice. But not for me. Books about writing inspire me. Obviously, reading is not writing. But writing with a book open next to me on my desk is writing. If it’s a crutch, I no longer care. I would rather be a lame writer than a non-writer.
What, if anything, went wrong? The writing came to a screeching halt a week or so ago. I think I was trying to push myself into something that more resembled writing a novel and less resembled writing about a novel. But it was too soon for me and things didn’t pick up again until I gave myself permission to do what I said I was going to do in the first place — world building and back story. That gap in writing meant I had to write 10,000 words in the last three days of the month to meet my goal of 50,000 words. I prefer a more balanced and consistent approach.
What would you change? Stay on track with the word count so I don’t have to do a big push at the end.
What (potential) impact could this have in your workplace? I’m a bit scared to say this, but I think that I just proved to myself that I can write 50,000 words a month. Every month. I can’t write 50,000 words of the final draft of a novel in a month, but I suspect that I could write 20 to 30 thousand words of late draft novel and fill out the rest of the words in reflective writing that surrounds and supports my effort. And if I can do it with fiction, I can do it with nonfiction, too. The best thing might be that if I’m writing 50,000 words a month, I can call myself a writer and not feel like a liar.
3. Apply it
Well, the action is pretty obvious. August is another Camp NaNoWriMo month and I’m signing up. I will be even more of a NaNo Rebel this month because I intend to work on a nonfiction project. One month and 50,000 words will be enough to tell me if it’s a project that I want to pursue beyond that.