I’m four days into my first every Camp NaNoWriMo and all I want to do is read.

Writing is hard. Super hard.

And having a challenge and the accountability of NaNo is so, so important. Especially for me. I’m a serial starter. I have so many story starts and novel starts, but no completed fiction. Why? Because it’s so hard. And I get distracted by books that have already been written. (Seriously, just ask my writing buddy Kim.)

But I just started a book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages (okay…like six months, since I read the first one after hearing about it for ages…) and all I want to do is keep reading it. I read 119 pages today during my commute (hooray for public transit reading time!) and my lunch break (thank you union for mandating one hour reading breaks!).

HOWEVER – I signed up to write 50,000 words this month. And I WILL NOT fall (further) behind today. I WILL write tonight. After I write this blog post. And then, and only then, will I allow myself to read more of Heir of Fire. That’s right. The book I started reading this morning is the third instalment of the Throne of Glass novels. I had this one on hold at my local library for three months. THREE MONTHS. And you can bet, when I got the email last week that it was finally waiting for me, I did not hesitate to go pick it up. But then I had to wait until we had moved all our stuff from our apartment to our new house and unpacked the kitchen and the clothing and done laundry and bought hand soap and toilet paper for all the bathrooms, before I could pick it up and read it.

So now, my friends, I ask you, how do you focus on writing when you want to be reading?

  1. Trisha! Take a deep breath! You are moving. You soul is at the very least unsettled. It is likely confused, distracted, grieving the lost routines and systems of the old place, riotously happy to be exploring new routines and systems (toilet paper for more than one bathroom!!!!) (The human soul is capable of experiencing wildly diverse emotions at the same time, this is important to writing good characters) This is not a good condition to be writing in. It is my experience that a soul needs to know where its body is before it can send anything out into the world. Give yourself a break, dump the writing until you find a happy spot in the house that you can sit and breath deeply and say, I’m home, in.

    • Thanks for the advice, Nicola. I’m loving the new space and find it very peaceful. I think ten hardest part is changing the the routines. Now that I’m back at work, it’s getting there.

  2. I just read anyway and feel guilty doing so. If it’s something I’ve waited really long for, it’s worth it. Plus, even when I’m in the writing throes, I still have to read. Something easy that really grabs my attention and makes me get away from my own current story before I go to sleep at night.
    However, one more thing to say: 50k words in a months is insane. I’ve done it five times now (every November since 2011), and every time I go “Why am I doing this? This is nuts!!” So, just sayin’ – don’t expect to waltz through this. If you want to get your 50k done, expect some serious craziness. But it, too, is worth it in the end.

    • It is nuts!! I will aim to win but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t. The plan is to motivate me to write as much as I can towards a crazy goal and see how I do. I’m having fun, and getting some words on the page, and that’s what’s important. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Well, firstly, if it makes you feel better: I just went two days with doing nothing writing-wise and that was on top of an insomnia incident that had me up until 6:30 am on Sunday where instead of using all that time of being stupidly awake to be productive, I just bummed around the internet and watched So You Think You Can Dance. XD So don’t feel too bad, haha!! (I’m actually sitting down right now to get myself back on track with writing!)

    Second: try setting timers or limits? Or mini word goals? Like, maybe say you can read for one hour, then you have to write for 20 or 30 mins straight. Or, you can read one chapter, but then you have to stop and write 500 words or something. If switching for short stints is too distracting either way, then maybe make the stints longer, or do something like, Tuesday evening you can read, Wednesday evening you have to write. Thursday evening you can read, but Friday you have to write (all barring social/prior commitments of course). That’s something that tends to work for me – if my brain “knows in advance” that I’m going to be writing tomorrow or at 7:00 pm or something, I seem to be less prone to be distracted, and then I also don’t feel guilty on my “nights off”.

    • I think timers might be a good bet for me to try. And self-bribery. I can read a chapter or two after I’ve successfully written (either to a timer or a word count). I love the idea of rest days, but I also love the idea of writing a bit each day. We’ll see how my brain works. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  4. I would definitely put everything on hold for Heir of Fire! It’s funny that I have the same issues in my review schedule. I have so much to read and review, yet I get distracted by my books on the shelf. I really do believe that challenges are so helpful and encouraging. Good luck with NaNo! 🙂

  5. Ah, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve started re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows instead of working on my Camp NaNoWriMo! Keep going, it’ll be worth it in the end!

  6. I have thought about this conversation all across the Atlantic. I am bothered by the term ‘word count’. Writing is a large part of my life, I have a story that is 500 000 words long. (I will trim it for the good of the story, no other reason) It didn’t get there by considering the word count every day, or any day.
    So, I thought, if word count is the paramount consideration, let’s write the same word 250 times every day, giving our pen permission to wander as our thoughts wander, but not letting up until the 250 words are done. This would work really, really well if we listen to the psychologists who say writing with a pen is better than typing on a screen.

  7. You can do it! Just imagine how exciting that will be when you write those 50,000 words! I too am a “serial starter” (love that). I’ve been focusing on writing all the exciting bits that pop into my head and then I’ll go back later and tie it all together with the less “action packed” scenes. At least, that’s what I tell myself 🙂 Best of luck to you! I’ll be sending good writing thoughts your way.

    • Thanks! I’m at fewer than 5,000 words right now. But I intend to remedy that this week. I’m almost done Reading Queen of Shadows. Soon I’ll be able to focus on writing. 🙂 Good luck with your writing too!

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