Tuesday, August 31, 2010

WFMAD Challenge - Timing

I took Laurie Halse Anderson up on her challenge to Write 15 Minutes A Day in August. It turned out to be the worst time in the world to take on a writing challenge - but then again, maybe it was perfect timing.

I had been struggling with my characters in the last third of my multigenerational historical novel. I couldn't even picture them, and there are great big unknown years in their fact-based stories. On top of that, my shoulder had been aching, worse and worse. In mid-August I could hardly lift my arm, and got the diagnosis: torn rotator cuff, bursitis, and maybe a pinched nerve to top it all off. I am banging this post out with one hand. Since I have to do that at my dayjob as well, writing at home while trying to heal has really lowered in priority.

The good thing, though, is the "just 15 minutes" part. It's freed me up to put my novel aside and get my notebook out (easier with one hand). Some days I just journaled, about my struggles, my characters, whatever. Other days I tried out Laurie's prompts; she always had something to try on her blog. Plus, I've been reading and reading. To paraphrase Ann Lamont (I'm reading "Bird by Bird"), writer's block is simply when you're empty and need to fill up. So I'm taking a little novel sabbatical and trying to fill my creative gas tank.

I don't think I'll keep doing the 15 minutes for the next few weeks, since it's really been a struggle, but I do plan to keep reading and to have my journal ready for when I have some thoughts in my head. I plan to get back to my novel, which I've been working on all year up 'til now, by October. And then I'll take another break from it for November's nanowrimo - National Novel Writing Month! - to write a memoir.

By the way, I met the challenge! I think I wrote all but three days in August.

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