Dew on changing leaves

And just like that, the month of November is over, and with the advent of December comes the end of both National Blog Posting Month and National Novel Writing Month. During the month of November, I managed to post at least a photo–most days, nothing more–and to write 50,042 nonfiction words, just as planned. As always, it’s been a fruitful exercise, one that has taught (or reminded) me I can maintain a regular writing, photo-snapping, and blog-posting practice, even in the midst of a busy semester.

Dried hydrangea flowers with fallen leaves

This past month felt a bit like a writer’s retreat that I attended in the midst of my mundane life. My emphasis wasn’t on product (that is, the quality of the stuff I was writing and posting) but on process (that is, the mere fact that I was writing and posting). Posting a photo a day wasn’t too challenging, but writing toward my 50,000-word goal certainly was. This past month, I learned (or remembered) several important things about myself as a writer:

  • I can, if I put my mind to it, write between 1,000 and 4,000 words a day, but only if I write whatever appears.
  • If I sit down with the goal of Writing A Book, I can’t write. If I sit down and write whatever appears, I can write anything.
  • Like Thoreau, I write best in the mornings, before afternoon sleepiness intrudes.
  • Like Thoreau, I write best when I keep a journal in which I write whatever appears and then cull and revise the best bits.

Dew on changing leaves

When I started both NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo, my goal was to kick-start my blogging (which has been lagging this past year) and work on a book-length nonfiction narrative I want to write (which has been lagging my entire adult life). On both counts, I feel happy with what I learned and accomplished this November. Did I write an entire book, or even a draft of an entire book, this past month? No. Did I get a good start toward writing a draft of an entire book, and did I learn a technique (that is, “Write whatever appears”) that will fuel my ongoing work on that goal? Yes, most definitely. And that realization alone is worth a month of diligent effort.