This November, I’ll be doing the National Novel Writing Month challenge for the eighth time. Each year, the challenge gives new opportunity to deepen writing practice.
I’m still in grief-and-rage at the decades-too-early death of my mentor, so I have not been in the best shape in the last months.
This year, I am concentrating on self-care and letting the work find its own pace. In a year and a half as an independent writer, I have been in recovery from the physical and psychological damage of systematically abusive day jobs. This past June, I lost my cherished mentor, and in thinking about her life and career, I’ve found myself face to face with internalized Voices of the Oppressor.
A lot of those Voices come from corporate culture, and thence backward to the economic terror that has been the keynote of US history. In a country based upon stolen labor on stolen land, it’s no wonder that a lot of us have an Internal Editor/Boss voice that is far from kind.
So this year, I’m going to share some unconventional advice that comes from working writers who don’t subscribe to the Simon Legree School of (Self) Management. Special thanks to my writing friend Lev Mirov, who’s been a treasured companion on the road.
- Writing begins with forgiveness. You don’t have to write every day. Daniel José Older tells some plain truth about writing, (self) forgiveness, and the reality of writing from a marginalized position.
- Try writing small. Give yourself easily achievable goals, and rejoice in meeting them. I’ve talked about writing bouts but here is a writing friend of mine who really knows whereof he speaks. Lev shares some additional insights in his Writer Tech interview about self-care and the writerly zone.
- You do not have to be perfect. Essayist/memoirist and editor Diane Kavanaugh-Black takes on A-plus student syndrome. Part 2 here
- Fun and (video) games are good for you. Devin Harnois on how Dragon Age helped him level up as a novelist.
- Writing can be your escape from Real Life So-called, and that’s perfectly fine. Becca Patterson talks about writing in hard times.
- You don’t have to take the trip alone. Vacations in Romancelandia, a group interview with the Bowman’s Inn Collective. How one group of writing buddies came together for fun and anthology shenanigans.
- Know thyself. Everybody thinks it’s about productivity and word count, but it’s really about self-knowledge (from 2K to 10K). Yes, spreadsheets are a tool for enlightenment. Rachel Aaron writes about finding her sweet spot for painless productivity. Note: it is not in the least contradictory with any of the above advice.
- Writing and visual art? Not an either/or but a both/and. You could ask William Blake, but he’s dead. The amazing likain is very much alive. Check out her Patreon for manifesto and a dose of color and light.
- Planner or pantser? You don’t have to choose. Instead, you can follow veteran pulp writer Dean Wesley Smith as he writes into the dark.
- It’s OK to be a work in progress. Your Humble Author shows you how: Dare to be bad and Watch out for toxic standards