NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Lessons, Observations, Affirmations

After my first week of attempted novel-writing, I suspect I am in the same position as many first-time Wrimos—panicking!

My most profound lessons thus far…

  • Try not to get behind.
  • If you get behind, try not to get any further behind.
  • If all all possible, catch up!

I can’t speak for others, but I am finding 1667 words per day a challenge. It takes me a few hours to get there, and the sense of being behind—by even one day—makes the task even more daunting. If you write slowly (as I do), 1667*2 is a very big number. I fell behind Sunday and I have not quite caught up (only a few hundred words behind target though).

Interesting (or not) observations…

I’d started working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way before NaNoWriMo. Synchronicity is at work and many of her tools, concepts, and ideas have helped with this novel-writing exercise.

  • One of the regular tools in the book is Morning Pages, three hand-written pages of stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning. I’ve noticed a shift from filling up the pages with whatever crap falls out of my head to using the pages as a way to process what might happen next in my novel.
  • One key concept that I have found eases my writing is a mental shift from “thinking something up” to “just getting it down.” Listening to whatever might come and recording it rather than straining to create something from nothing.
  • A related concept: Trusting that the words will come. Saying to the universe: “You take care of quality, I’ll take care of the quantity!” In other words, get your butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard and something will manifest. Mostly this has worked for me, and I’ve found some interesting characters and plot points as a result. However, I think I’ve hit my limit on what I can do with my very sketchy plot idea. I feel like the context is set but the real story has not yet started. It’s time to map out a little more of an outline so I know what scenes to tackle next.

My two new favorite affirmations…

  • I am an endless source of creativity!
  • I write with ease, joy, focus, and flow!

Feel free to use with reckless abandon. 🙂



Target word count end of Day 8: 13,336

Actual word count end of Day 8: 12,615


Happy writing, Wrimos!

I am now a “competent communicator”!!

When you join a Toastmasters club, you start working through the “Competent Communication” manual, a series of 10 speeches, each with a different focus (organization, vocal variety, gestures, etc.), culminating in a big “inspirational” speech to wrap it all together. After two years of procrastination, I finally wrapped up my 10th speech yesterday. And you know what? I was OK!

I roll my eyes at the name of this particular Toastmasters award – Competent Communicator, or CC. I’d like to think I’ve been “competent” for quite some time—after all I’ve been in the business world for (cough) a few years, I’ve run a few meetings, facilitated a few strategy sessions. Sit with me one-on-one and I’d say I’m even better than “competent”—at least “decent” if not “pretty good.”

But public speaking—giving a formal presentation—has always made me nervous. (I am not alone—depending on what list you read, fear of public speaking ranks right up there with fear of dying.) So I figured when I started my own business, I’d better spend a little time getting over that particular fear—or at least learning to hide it better. Thus, Toastmasters.

A few observations about the journey to competence…

  • Early on, I took a presentation skills class from a really good speech coach. I’ve taken public speaking classes before, but somehow in this class the messages came through differently and resonated differently. Perhaps a case of “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
  • Recently I had a chance to watch this speech coach rehearse for an hour-long keynote address. Something about the process shifted my thinking from “presentation” to “performance.” Hard to even describe what happened, but I recall a similar experience watching Olympic downhill skiers many years ago when I was still learning to ski—“Oh, that’s the rhythm/motion/flow I’m supposed to have.” The next day on the hill—way more better!
  • I’ve written about affirmations on this blog. One of my affirmations this year has been “I have a voice that others need to hear.” That shift in my mindset has helped me stop worrying about what other people think and simply focus on what I need to say—after all, they “need to hear” me. How could I refuse them? 🙂
  • I took the opportunity to read a few of my poems aloud for the vocal variety speech, which really was my first foray into “performance” rather than “presentation.”
  • I practiced this last speech a LOT. I’ll be the first to admit, most of my speeches got nowhere near this level of preparation. Our club has a tradition of giving a standing ovation for the 10th speech—so I figured I’d better earn it. And, go figure, practice made a difference!
  • Finally, the “performance” of the speech became much easier because I had some passion for the topic. Since I liked what I was talking about, my facial expressions and gestures and movements more easily reflected that. No stilted feeling of “Oh, I need to put a gesture HERE.” I was in the “flow.”

Yesterday’s poem was written a couple months back, but was part of the process to reach speech #10. Yesterday I did intone my “first true words” in a manner of speaking. I’ll try to repurpose some of those words in an upcoming blog entry. I mean, really, who would not want to read “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Science Fiction”??

Here’s to Toastmasters—to competence and beyond!