It's about one-third of the way through November, and I've already had a busy month thus far. Every year I know once Halloween has passed, my winter holiday preparations will begin and there will never be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I wish to do. This is why I am disappointed in myself today. Instead of working on any of my many projects, I spent a lazy day in front of the TV and laptop and did quite a bit of pleasure reading too.
October is winding down and that means National Novel Writing Month is peeking around the corner. November can be a great month to be a writer, but preparing for the month-long writing marathon can be a bit daunting. Personally, I never attempt to achieve the goal of writing 50,000 words during November, not with Thanksgiving celebrations and prep-work for Christmas shrinking my free time during the month. But I do enjoy being able to connect with other active writers who chase that difficult goal. NaNoWriMo is a great time to discuss writing strategies, conquering writer's block, planning vs pantsing, and a wide range of plotting, setting, and character topics.
I made quite a bit of progress on my working vacation, and now that I'm home again, I want to keep my momentum going. I cut in half the amount of chapters I have left to edit on my current WIP. Once I finish the last few chapters, I plan to do a final read-through before prepping for querying and pitching in December. I still have my doubts about this manuscript's quality, but then I do admit to having a perfectionist streak in me and needing to get over the fact I can't please everyone.
As one of those people who has limited time to work on my personal projects, taking a working vacation has become a regular occurrence year after year. For me, this means taking my camera and laptop along on my trips so I can work on two of my hobbies at once, photography and writing. This year will be no different.
Today I decided to take a pause in listening to lecture series on my way to and from work to listen to some music instead. Over the weekend I got a song stuck in my head from one of the first CDs I bought as a teenager. It's from The Chieftains' "Tears of Stone" album, and once upon a time, I used some of the music on this CD to help inspire some character and world development in my writing. By listening to this music, I'm hoping to spur my desire to write and edit into action. Again I'm finding that long days at the office are killing my energy to do much of anything once I get some free time, and I want to put an end to this lethargic procrastination.
Over the weekend, we had quite a heatwave. Here in western Pennsylvania, that means humidity on top of the high temperatures, and while many of the communities around my area received afternoon rains to ease that humidity, mine did not. When I woke up this morning, however, it was to the sound of rain and temperatures more than twenty degrees (F) below what we had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Perfect weather to sit down with a large mug of tea and my laptop for an extensive writing session.
Many of us who engage in creative pursuits on top of having a day job and various social/family obligations can often find it frustrating trying to eek out enough free time to devote to our projects. When we do get free time, sometimes we struggle to utilize it. Creative blocks often come when we just don't have the energy to focus on our creative goals. But when the stars do manage to align and we have both the free time and the energy to create, we can fall into another problem. Sometimes we can become so immersed in our projects that we forget to take time for ourselves.
With July here, another session of Camp NaNoWriMo has started. Normally I don't bother with NaNoWriMo anymore; I find setting word count goals runs counter to how I prefer to work. But this month, I'm using Camp NaNo to explore some new writing projects I've been putting off in favor of making progress on established stories. For me, NaNoWriMo is a good excuse to explore plots and scenarios that I've never written about before but would like to try.
The other evening, I was browsing through some of my wildlife photography, looking for shots to share with a friend. I have thousands of photos I've taken over the years, and for the first time, I recognized the amount of improvement I've made. Although I still end up with my fair share of crappy shots when I take my camera for a hike, the quality of the photos worth keeping has grown.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I've captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don't often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all. Some of my camera walks I've done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day's set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.