Tag Archives: pushing

Boston versus Camp

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or even for a little bit, you already know that I have a relationship between running and writing. I’m in love with both, and I see parallels in both quite frequently.

So it should come as no surprise that I’m drawing another parallel, one between the biggest US marathon and a smaller, less stressful month of writing. Both, this year and last, have happened within the same time, with one Camp month of two falling on April. Boston has annually been in April.

This parallel is brought to you by my camp cabin. It had come to me while I was reading about the winners of the marathon, and the times of each. Men are obviously up ahead of women by at least 15 minutes because of natural physiology. Depending on ethnicity, physiology also plays a huge role in how fast a runner is and how much endurance they have. There are a lot of factors that go into what makes that person win, including what they eat, their previous injuries and recovery, and their style of running. Genetics can also have a massive effect on things like endurance, recovery time, and and speed.

Though pace is less important in writing, depending, there is still an instinctual stakeout that I do of the top writers, those who have gotten the furthest in the month. I may not have been able to write as early as others in the cabin, but consistently, I was ahead of the pack.

If you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo has a feature that allows you to “bunk” was 11 other writers in a cabin, to help push you through the month and influence and inspire you. That is the charm of camp, it’s not just you, there’s more with you trying to achieve goals unique to themselves and their writing. Both Friend and I are a bit competitive and definitely ambitious, and seeing others up where our wordcounts were made us want to surge forward.

Being toe to toe with others in a race not only helps you push yourself, but it helps you understand what you’re capable of. Sometimes, you’re going to push too hard and fall out of the pack. The pace is going to get more than what you can handle with everyone else, too much for you to sustain.

Other times, you’re going to be the one setting the pace, and it’ll pull you ahead of everyone else by a longshot or a short one.

I have had very little competition this month so far in terms of wordcount. The closest behind me is 13k short of catching me. I am going to probably break 50k by the end of the month when my goal was 35k and I hit that on Thursday.

This morning, while reading the live tweets of the Boston Marathon, after the women’s winner was announced, I found out that her last time in the race was 2012, and she didn’t finish. This time, she surged ahead in a sprint to win it.

I know it’s ridiculous to compare, but it made me think of struggling through November, how difficult it was for me to finish that novel and do it well or do it any justice. How worried I was about my work and progress. I limped out of November 4k above the goal, and had even stopped writing two to three days before it ended.

Camp is different. Six months later, I’m above my goal and searching more to finish the small novel instead of stopping just because I got where I need to.

Writing, unlike running races, doesn’t stop when you break the tape at the end. It stops when you say it does, when you’re satisfied. In the case of NaNoWriMo and the Camp series that they have, the end of the event may serve as simply a checkpoint for some of us, depending on just how big the story is. Writers have a race to run that takes much longer than two hours and nine or twenty-four minutes, but ours can be taken as slowly as we need to, and with as many people as we want to involve.

In the mean time, I think I’ll grin at my early victory and hope this November goes a whole hell of a lot better than the last one. My training for it should be fairly simple. 😉

– The Novice Wordsmith

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Taking Advice, or the Difference Between Writers and Non-Writers

Just as there are blogs and posts and pictures and near anything else dedicated to “Tips for Writing” there are as many out there about doing it wrong, what not to do, and generally what to avoid. While nothing is wrong with these, it can be if the person has had no previous experience in what they’re talking about, instead just passing the word.

The best word comes from someone who knows what it means, both through experience and observance.

I was reminded recently of a former friend who, after I had finished November last year, took to badgering me about finishing my work. On several occasions, I got messages with the caps lock on telling me to get to it already. Pushed and bullied, I felt the stress of having to complete something under someone else’s watch, but I never let him force me to do things.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t take his words to heart  was because he wasn’t a writer like I am. He wrote journals every so often, and mostly he wrote about science fact, but on very rare occasion, he would write about something that related to his situation. Depressing, rather awful tales, that he wouldn’t touch after getting them finished. Which, I won’t judge: if that’s what he felt most like writing, more power to him, that’s fine.

… But when it comes to policing someone on what they should be writing and when, it is a lot better if you know by some experience what they’re going through before you cast judgement or forcefulness. Not that either of those are acceptable to do, either, because everyone goes at their own pace, not yours.

Fiction writers know fiction writers. It’s going to take some time, whether a small amount or a large amount, and we’re all different. We have good days where we can write chapter upon chapter and revise several and then move on to the next and further into our story. Then we have stretches of days or weeks where we just can’t get into things where they’re at (which, if that’s the case, try changing things up with how you see them at that moment).

If anyone is going to pressure you, it should be yourself, but not to a breaking point, and certainly not making you feel like trash until you do it. To make progress, you need to have some kind of confidence in yourself, to feel like you’re making headway instead of just doing something you should have done. While pressure and negativity work to help motivate some, it is not always the case for others.

Really, too, if you’re writing something for yourself, it shouldn’t have a damn lick of pressure to it. It’s yours. This is your story. You write when and how you like.

Your ideas for publishing, too, are your own. Don’t let someone deter you from doing what you want because they “think” that they have a better idea of how to go about it. There have been plenty of singular books published as a first publication of a first time author, the same as there’s been the first in a series, or the first in a trilogy.

I guess part of this I’m writing for myself. After months of being pushed around and chewed on like I don’t know what I’m doing, I want to do my best to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Thankfully, this person no longer corrupts my daily life, but he left a lasting impression that I don’t care for. Not that I really took any of his “lessons” to heart (I have Friend for that, I trust him more), but I still listened to what he had to say.

What bothered me most about him was that he kept shoveling advice at me that I didn’t ask for. “Publish this first,” “work on this, I want to see it, I want to edit, let me edit for you,” “You do too much of this, you shouldn’t,” “don’t do this,” “why would you do that?” “Why don’t you take out the parts you worked on with this person and work on it with me instead?”

Not only did I not ask for it, but from someone who didn’t write like I did, who had no aspirations to do such or even to publish himself, he found himself qualified because he had heard from others who did. A non-writer telling me that I was taking too long was exactly the way to make me want to scream.

I have trust issues with people who dispense unsolicited advice. Even more so when they’re not qualified to give it.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, do it on your terms, do it because you want to. Writing the book is going to take time, series writers can sometimes take years to bring about another book, and getting published can range from fairly easy to ‘holy shit, is this ever going to happen?’ Read advice from people who write what you write. Who know the endless worlds that you get into, who have seen what you want to see. Learn from their experience, not someone who has a lack of it.

– The Novice Wordsmith

( I guess on that note I have some room to talk, but as a writer, I like to think I have some license to it. )