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muse-wooI haven’t been posting in the blog lately for the simple fact I’ve been stretched almost invisibly thin during November. For the first time ever, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known by many as NaNoWriMo).

Making the word-count goal, though cool, was less important in the end than what I discovered about myself during that entire month of putting-pen-to-the-grindstone. To my surprise, I found that I could write for NaNoWriMo every day, even though I:

  • worked a full-time job weekdays, plus other part-time jobs evenings and weekends.
  • was knocked down hard with the brutal flu for days.
  • suffered from a rash that made my hands burn like St. Elmo’s Fire for weeks.
  • was trapped on a 14-hour train trip with no computer access (so I wrote longhand on paper and retyped it later).

But perhaps most importantly, I found I could write even when I didn’t feel like it. I used to wait for the muse to strike, at least when it came to fiction. And if I sensed the muse was on strike, I was quick to write off any writing plans that day/week/month.

With my day job (90 percent writing), I don’t have the luxury of waiting around for the muse to wander in. With NaNoWriMo, I didn’t either. And guess what? All excuses removed, I wrote. Every single day, no matter how sick, no matter how tired, even if it was only a couple hundred words rather than a couple thousand.  There were a few times it was only a paragraph.

There were spells that might qualify in old times as writer’s block, but I had the “take no prisoners” mantra of NaNoWriMo pushing me. And I wrote anyway. Blindly, bluntly, yes even resentfully here and there over the course of an entire month, like the employee who begrudgingly records the work they did every day, but who knows that weekly work report must be filed. In the case of NaNoWriMo, it meant I faithfully updated that word count every night.

Simply put, nipping the excuses wooed my muse out of the elusive woods and onto the paper. That’s one valuable lesson I’m taking along with me on the road to the next novel.

So fellow authors, what’s your excuse for not writing today, and when are you kicking it to the curb?