Beating the NaNoWriMo week 2 doldrums

You know sometimes when you’re driving and you rev the engine, and the car goes a touch over the speed limit, but it feels so good? All of a sudden you’re cruising. There’s no wind drag, no bumps in the road, your shoulders relax down and you can handle the wheel with a light touch. Up ahead, there’s a minivan with four bikes strapped to the back. And it’s coming up alongside a semi with its indicators on for your exit. And you think, I’m going to glide past that minivan and get in front of the semi before it hits the exit. And then you do it. And it’s like nothing. Why? You found the sweet spot.

Maybe you don’t like to drive, so you dance. And you had that moment where you strapped on those pointe shoes and for the first time ever, did a quadruple pirouette.

Or you golf and you’ve been trying that same swing and hitting the sand trap over and over again. Then all of a sudden. The green.

NaNoWriMo week two can be like that. Really.

These things have one thing in common: repetition. Success with writing–with anything, really–has to do with how often you do it. The best musicians practice, practice, practice. The best dancers take class after class. The best writers get up every day and write.

I had a conversation with Andrea Davis Pinkney recently. It was not meant to be about writing stuff, but we’re both moms who work full time and also write books, so it came up about 1/2 hour in. I wanted to know how she manages to write her own books, and still keep the day job (as VP of trade at Scholastic, no less). Her answer was simple. “I write every day. That’s what writers do. They write.” (You’ll forgive me, that might not be an exact quote.) As it turns out she has a brutal routine, starting at 4am.

Honestly, I was shocked, but then I remembered a conversation I had with another Scholastic mom, editor by day writer by wee hour of the morning, Lauren Tarshis, author of the I Survived series. Her pace is two books per year. She also gets up at 4am. Ms. Pinkney reminded me that Lauren’s a mom of 4. My measly 2 children are no excuse.

The next morning, I got up at 5am to write. It was not easy. But now, I’ve been doing it for a month and my body is used to it. The alarm goes off and I feel perfectly rested. Every day the words come. So by now, NaNoWriMo week 2, I’ve got swing. Balance. The sweet spot. The words and I show up at the same time.

Maybe I should have told you this sooner. Like the week NaNoWriMo started, or a month ago when I started doing this, but I had to see if it worked first.

So that’s the sweet spot that makes the car glide, your pirouette defy physics, and the words pour out. Maybe they’re not great words, and sure you’ll have to go clean up after them, but they’re there.

Doldrums beaten.

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