Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

10 good things about joining a writing program

I recently did something both wonderful and scary: I joined a writing program. Sounds tame, maybe. But to me it’s closer to terrifying than boring. Why? Because I’m working hard, putting my heart and energy into finishing a book. I’m giving it my best now-or-never effort. And after all of this, what if I fail? Or wait, what if I succeed? Things could change! Either way, it’s scary.

Now let’s move on to the fun part where I get to tell you about all the good things. That’s what this blog is about, after all — finding the good and sharing it. And this is some really good good!

I’ll be kind to you, dear Reader, and practise restraint, since I’m guessing you don’t have all day to spend reading. In February, I paid to join a writing program called 100 Day Book Program. If I accomplish my goal of finishing a 65,000-word first draft by June 19, I get $100 back. The money is a great symbolic overall motivator. What’s really keeping me motivated, though, are the weekly word counts and the accountability. I know that someone will notice if I don’t submit my quota of words by midnight Pacific Time. I find that I’m feeling positively bubbly with excitement about this undertaking. Since I promised to not get carried away, I’ll tell you about just 10 of the aspects that I’m loving about this program.

  1. I’m writing regularly. I’m at about 22,000 words now. That is the most words I’ve written on a personal project in the past 20 years. I’m not just thinking about writing. I’m not just daydreaming. I’m not just reading about it. For four weeks straight, I’ve been writing almost every day and submitting 4,500 words a week.
  2. I’m facing problems that real writers have, which up to now I’ve only read about. I’ve become acquainted with Resistance. I suspect that my old friend Grumblings knows and loves Resistance. In Do the Work, Steven Pressfield describes Resistance as the stuff that we throw at ourselves to prevent us from achieving a dream. The negative self-talk, the other activities that seem more important. And why is this good,  you ask? Two reasons: it’s fascinating to observe and it means I’m behaving like a real writer (you know, by actually writing!). I’m starting to understand, in a just-want-to-sleep kind of way, that writing is hard sometimes. When every word seems an effort, the call of Netflix, books, sleep and even laundry is strong. I appreciated the idea of writing being hard before, when I read about it from my comfy armchair. Now I feel how hard it is when I sit in a dark house at my computer before getting ready to go to work.
  3. My family is being wonderfully supportive. I was strangely hesitant to tell anyone that I signed up for this program. I think it was nerves (terror!) about revealing that this time I am serious about writing a book. Committing to doing this work to the other people in the program is one thing; committing to it to my family is another. It seems obvious now that of course they’d be supportive. Family members are great allies in fighting Resistance (aka Grumblings). They encourage me to just go do it, and the matter-of-factness breaks through my occasional internal waffling about why now isn’t the best time. Thing Two even rewarded me for submitting my writing one week by coaching me through learning to play Zelda. I’m not a video game fan and have about three hours of experience, but it was strangely cathartic. I don’t even mind that she laughed at me; I still affirm that anyone who came upon two monsters at the same time in that particular field would cry.
  4. I’m having fun writing the story, thinking about the story, obsessing a little about the story. Talking about the story. The only time it’s not fun is when it’s really, really hard.
  5. I get to be part of a group of writers who are all trying to do the same thing: write a first draft by June 19. We’re all experiencing the difficulties of fitting writing in. I’ve had conversations about my book in progress, and theirs, with people from across North America and in other countries.
  6. We get ongoing encouragement: emails congratulating us on submitting our word count, emails with links to training videos, emails that offer advice on how to keep going. Sometimes they uncannily address exactly what I’m going through. For example, last Friday’s email gave us a simple instruction to follow in the face of self-criticism or other Resistance: “Don’t write well. Just write now.” We’re all working on first drafts, after all. We’re aiming for production, not perfection. It came at just the right time, and brought tears to my eyes.
  7. I am fascinated by books about writing, and have spent many hours and many dollars on them over the years. Now that I’m actually writing, I can call them research!
  8. I have discovered I really enjoy writing action scenes. I didn’t expect that. When I took Tae Kwon Do and karate in years past, I had to fight my instinct to just run away when it was time to spar. My characters, however, don’t always do that. I didn’t even intend to include fight scenes! After writing one recently, I actually felt hot and flushed.
  9. I’m learning about a lot of neat tools for writers:  tools to help correct spelling, grammar and style (like ProWritingAid), tools to keep track of word counts (like Svenja Gosen’s word tracker) and more.
  10. I’m learning to critique the work of other writers. We’re all required to critique at least three pieces each week. I try not to dwell on what’s easy for me as a copy editor; now’s not the time to focus on spelling and grammar mistakes, because we’re all on our first draft with plans to revise our work. So I practise. I think about what I find helpful in the excellent critiques that I’ve been receiving, and I try to find useful as well as encouraging things to say. I  think I am improving. I’m grateful for the chance to practise critiquing, and extremely grateful for everyone who takes the time to read and critique my writing.

So there you have it. These are just some of the things about the program that have me super excited! This is my version of talking a mile a minute.

Maybe I’ve unwittingly hit on another way to fight Grumblings. Focusing on doing something I love makes the things that I often grumble about (like housework) seem kind of irrelevant.

I’m curious to know what makes you want to chatter on excitedly to anyone who’ll listen. What makes you forget to grumble? If it’s not writing, what is it? A hobby? If it is writing, what about it excites you? And what are your favourite tools? Share in the comments or email me at susan at goodbyegrumblings.ca.

 

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About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

4 Replies

  1. Jenn

    That is fantastic, Susan! I recently came across the story map we made when we were going to write that romance novel together. We did a lot of thinking and planning, but no real writing… You’ve come a long way since then!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      ThanksJenn! We had a lot of fun with that. (-:

  2. Lise Gagnon

    How wonderful Susan! Finally, I’ll get to read one of your books! Go Susan, go! xx

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for the encouragement, Lise! (-:

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