Go With the Flow. It’s Going to Drag You Along With it Anyway!

Planning versus pantsing. It’s one of the great debates amongst writers. Which is the best? Why? What are the pros and cons of each?

I’ve discussed this before, but with Camp NanoWriMo just ending (I failed to reach my goal by the way…very sad about that) I figured I’d bring it up again, since Nano has been traditionally all about pantsing.

For those who don’t know, “pantsing” (or “flying by the seat of your pants”), is basically the exact opposite of planning. Rather than work out your plot line, character archs, and important scenes beforehand, you just write, going for quantity over quality, and deal with the results in editing.

Today I’m going to discuss a different kid of proponent for “pantsing”. I’m going to discuss my wedding.

Many women plan their wedding to death. They drill every detail into the ground. What color are the napkins going to be? Oh no, we can’t sit Aunt Agnus next to Cousin Greg! My shoes can’t have a silver beading on them, it all has to be white!!!!

You can’t really blame them too much because for many women their wedding is the most important day of their life, something they’ve been waiting for since they were little girls. It has to be perfect. It has to be flawless. Any misstep will follow her around for the rest of her days.

Right?

When I first started planning my wedding I was a little crazy as well. Even though I didn’t even want half of the bells and whistles that one is used to seeing at a wedding, I still wanted it to be perfect. No room for error!

But here’s the thing…things started going wrong almost immediately. Little things at first, like when I couldn’t find a printer to do the invitations. Then it was big things, like when two of my hubby’s three groomsmen had to cancel. Finally it was an enormous thing: we heard word that our venue – a bed-and-breakfast style inn with lovely grounds – was going out of business. I’ll admit, in those days I nearly had a nervous breakdown. At the time that we heard about the venue we only ha about two months to the wedding, and the invites had all already been sent. How was I going to find another venue this late and communicate the change to some 200 possible guests? I spent more than one work day gritting my teeth and trying not to burst into tears in front of all my coworkers.

As it turned out, the venue held on a little longer and we were still able to have the wedding there. When I found this out not only did a huge weight life from my shoulders, but my entire attitude toward the wedding changed. I realized that yes, things were going to go wrong. Things were going to turn out differently than I imagined. Things were not going to be perfect and flawless. That’s just life. And when I realized this and accepted it, it made all the difference to my psyche.

No, relaxing and letting things flow did not suddenly and magically make everything work out wonderfully. We still had lots of issues. My wedding dress almost wasn’t hemmed in time. The venue manager forgot to order the tent, which would have been a disaster of it had rained. My bridesmaids and I woke up the morning off feeling sick as dogs. My uncle mistook the seating set-up for the church equivalent and had the front row completely empty, expecting the wedding party to sit there. My mother-in-law went head-over-heels trying to get a picture of me coming down the aisle. I could go on, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. Despite everything we had to deal with before and during the wedding day, the wedding was beautiful. We got married on the sunniest day we’d seen yet that summer. My best friend’s father played beautiful music for us and we took hundreds of gorgeous pictures. We had a ton of fun drinking and dancing with our friends and family. And in the end, the most important bit happened: my husband and I traded rings and became man and wife.

I tell you all of this not because I think “pantsing it” is the only way to go. I’m not trying to convince you that everything will be cupcakes and unicorn rides if you just go with the flow. But if you can convince yourself I the truth – that nothing in this world is perfect and that trying to obtain perfection, especially on the first try, is tantamount to insanity – you’ll be a lot better off. I could have obsessed about every little thing that went askew with my wedding, but I choose to focus on everything that went right, because that’s what really matters.

I challenge you to apply this way of thinking to many areas of your life, whether it be your own wedding, writing a book, building a house, teaching yourself a new skill, expectations you have for your children, or any other number of life events. I won’t promise that everything will magically work out for the better, but I’d be willing to bet that you’ll be significantly less stressed out.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 15

Sometimes we all need to just take a break, sit back and relax, and try to forget about the chores we have to do, the responsibilities we have, and the numerous things we are trying to accomplish.

Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself this past week.

With that thought in mind, I don’t have a lot to report this week. I decided when I got home from my shift out West that I was in desperate need of a week of doing absolutely nothing, and I’ve pretty much stuck to that.

Health and Body Image Goal

As stated above, there isn’t a lot to report, since I allowed myself to relax after I got home for this turnaround. However, I can mention that I’ve restarted Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution plan as of this past Sunday. More on that in tomorrow’s post, but suffice it to say that my teeth are firmly gritted. I’m gonna get in shape if it kills me, dammit. (And it probably will.)

Editing Goal

Hells yes, I avoided this one while I was relaxing. Something that needs to be done? Yes. Something I enjoy doing? No. With that in mind, I don’t expect to dig up much time for editing in the coming week either, since I’ve fallen drastically behind on my blog posts and need to replenish the supply so I don’t have to worry about it during my next shift out West.

1,000,000 Word Goal

Have I got something to report for this one? Yes. Yes I do. I can report that this has been my worst week yet at 2183 words, all of them blogging words. Something is definitely better than nothing – and you’ll be so kind as to recall that bit about relaxing – but still, I feel a bit bad. Worst week yet. Ick. In addition to that, my lack of writing over the past week has meant that I’m only up to 13060 words for Camp NaNoWriMo. Less than halfway to my goal and less than half the month left. I’d better get back to work, hmmm? Agreed.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 14

It’s the best time of the month. I’m boarding the bus to go to my last day of work for the shift, and that shift is only six hours long. What could be better?

Well, a lot of things, I’m sure, but still, I’m in a pretty damn good mood. And I’m not going to let Accountability Tuesday ruin it for me! Dammit! 😛

Health and Body Image Goal
I’ve been having a very difficult time on the exercise front, which I hope will be at least partly reduced once the Albertan sun starts coming up earlier. I’ve just been so tired and it really doesn’t seem as though there are enough hours in the day! That said, I have been doing fairly well with food intake over the past few days. Making salads, eating egg whites, all that kind of thing. Mind you all of that is likely to go to hell when my flight lands in Nova Scotia, but at least this week was good. 😛

Editing Goal
There’s not a great deal to report, although I’ve finally actually gotten going. It’s a slow process because I haven’t done any in such a while that I’m still more or less trying to remember what’s happening and what I want to fix. But baby steps are still steps, right? Right.

1,000,000 Word Goal
I had planned to go nuts this week, and that didn’t really happen as I’d hoped because work got ridiculously busy, but it was still a decent week. Between a combination of my work in progress, blogging, and a little love story that became as the result of a writing exercise, I wrote 9174 words past week. Adding to the couple of extra days that weren’t part of last week that means I’m up to 10877 words for Camp NaNoWriMo so far! Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some good old fashioned happiness to get to. Be home in less than 24 hours before I’m home, baby girl!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 13

Technology is a wonderful thing, you know? Here I am, on a bus on the way back to camp from a long day at work, and I’m listening to music on my iPhone while typing up an accountability post on my tablet with my bluetooth keyboard. My coworkers are getting a good laugh out of it, but to hell with them. I’m multitasking!

Okay, I may be feeling a bit looney this evening, so let’s get to the important parts so I can get this post scheduled for the morning and enjoy my evening trying to make up for several nights in a row of poor sleep.

Health and Body Image Goal

As has become a tradition, I have to admit that I’ve been a very bad girl this week. Since I arrived at camp for this shift I’ve polished off a fair number of sweets and no fewer than two (large) bags of chips (with cream soda to accompany). I haven’t even been bothering to put together half-decent lunches for myself…I’ve been snagging the pre-portioned containers of spaghetti and ham-and-cheese sandwiches. I’ve been bypassing the salad bar and healthier stir-fry meals daily because, let’s face it, I’m lazy and I have no willpower. Neither have I been getting any kind of exercise because of the aforementioned laziness and because if I want to also get a decent amount of writing in I would have to give up sleep. If you were reading the beginning of this post you know that I’m not sleeping well anyway. Why is that, I wonder? Am I stressed? I might be stressed.

Anyway, I made a decent effort today and ate better at least. I stil had the spaghetti, but I had yogurt and an orange for breakfast and somehow refrained from indulging in the nanaimo squares that I (for some goddamn reason) took to work with me today. Are you proud? You probably shouldn’t be. I don’t deserve pride, dammit! When I can report self-discipline for at least 7 days in a row, then you can be proud. Stow your pride for later.

Editing Goal

It’s not much, but I finally have something to report. That is, I’ve been looking over my previously edited pages, refamiliarizing myself with my manuscript. It’s not editing in the strictest sense, but I’m pretty much caught up, so any day now we should see some real progress, I promise.

1,000,000 Word Goal

As mentioned in my special post on Sunday, I’ve begun participating in Camp NaNoWriMo as of this morning. I’ve set myself a word count goal of 30,000 which, while not as ambitious as I would like to be, will bring me up to 100,000 words so far this year (if I’m successful). For my first day I’ve manged to write a little more than 1000 words so far, which is right on track. Wish me luck, and if you’d like to join me at NaNo Camp (it’s never too late!), take a swing by the website. My username for all NaNo events is Toreshi.

As for my weekly wordcount, I actually had a pretty damn good week, if I do say so myself. Not my best, but much better than the last three weeks (in fact, almost as much as the last three weeks combined). I wrote a total of 7435 words, which came from a combination of scenes for Parallels, a bit of blogging, and a few writing exercises and prompts that I tried out over the last two days. As a matter of fact, one of those prompts may very well turn into a full blown work in progress because it’s been pretty fun to write so far. As much as I would like to plow on and finish Parallels, I’ve been having a major blockage as to where to go next, so I’m thinking I might use Camp NaNo as an excuse to try a few new things, get the juices flowing as it were. Maybe I’ll even share some of what I end up with on Fiction Fragment Fridays. Look forward to it! 🙂

Camping while there’s still snow on the ground…yikes!

This special weekend edition post of No Page Left Blank is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo, in which I will be participating for the first time this year.

I’ve mentioned National Novel Writing Month before; for those who have never heard, it’s a challenge to all writers across the globe to write a 50,000 word novel entirely within the month of November. The challenge is run by a group of wonderful peoplel at the Office of Light and Letters, and participating (which is free!) grants you access to a community full of writers of all ages, enthnicities, religious groups, skill levels, and whatever other group designations you can think of. It’s a wonderful challenge that has really helped thousands upon thousands of people to finally get that novel out of their head and down on paper (or computer screen). The community aspect is so supportive and helpful, and there are lots of fun little distractions on the website as well. There are even in-real-life meetings organized by Municiple Liasons (or whoever takes up the task) where writers can meet each other and have write-in events. All in all, it’s just a great and fun event that I’ve participated in several years in a row now.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a similar event that is also hosted by the Office of Letters and Light twice a year. It’s like NaNoWriMo, but a little less structured, a little more freebase, and a little more casual. This year they’ve pleased many people by making the word count goal variable. If you want to participate but don’t think you have a chance of hitting a goal of 50,000, you can tailor your goal to suit yourself. If you think you’re a superstar and you can double, triple, or quadruple that goal, then that’s what you can do!

I’ve chosen to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year because of the motivational advantage. NaNoWriMo always revs me up to write as much as I possibly can because I love the challenge of it, and that’s something I sorely need these days. While I have been writing quite a lot since my Wildly Improbable Goals post, my enthusiasm has been waning. I’ve been unmotivated to the max, and have been finding myself struggling to get through each sentence. I hope to banish these lethargic feelings by taking up the challenge that starts tomorrow on April 1st.

I don’t think I have it in me to get through 50,000 words, considering my work schedule and how active my daughter is getting, but I don’t think it will be pushing it to give myself a word count goal of 30,000 for April. That’s slightly less than 1000 words a day, which I did with some amount of success back when I first started this blog. Can I do it again for one month? I think so. I hope so. We’ll see!

If anyone is brave enough to take up the challenge with me, visit the website ASAP! The challenge starts tomorrow, people! Seize the day!!