The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

beverage blur candy candy cane

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In preparation of the craziness that can sometimes go hand in hand with the holidays I took advantage of an offer to head up to the mountains last weekend, and took a couple of days off from the world. The kids loved the snow, and the outdoor heated pool in the snow, and the adults were overjoyed at a clean house that didn’t require extra effort on their part.

Now we’re back to the regular world, getting in the extra hours to pad time off for the holiday season, shopping for last minute gifts (welcome to my boat if by last minute it also means all of them), struggling through the uphill battle of housework, and realizing that I feel a little bit like a failure because not a single decoration has been put up. Sometimes it is important to accept that not being able to keep all the balls in the air does not equal failure. Asking for help does not render you incapable. Sometimes things are going to slide off the plate, it’s how we choose to handle these situations that define us.

We spend so much time measuring our success by how much we do, measuring our value by how much we make, and when those things do not align we convince ourselves we have to pile more and more on to the plate to achieve something that seems out of our reach. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Now look around you.

Did you write something this year? Not this month, or this week, or even today. This year. Success!

Are you putting one foot in front of the other and keeping the bills paid (even if just barely)? Success!

Be aware that sometimes little successes are just as important, and just as celebrate-worthy as the big ones. Sometimes even more so because they are the foundation for the bigger successes.

Failure is giving up. Letting obstacles set you back. Success is overcoming. See possibility instead of problems.

I submitted a short story to a Writer’s Digest contest a couple months ago (back in September, read about it in the post Now That You Know You Can), and I got my notification email on Thursday. At first it felt like I had failed. They thanked me for my submission, but I didn’t end up on the list of winners or those that would receive honorable mentions in the article.

I let myself throw a pity party. I drowned in my sorrow for a minute (two if I’m being entirely honest). Then I picked myself up, shook myself off and decided two things.

One. I had succeeded. I submitted something for the first time ever. Success! Two. I was going to keep pushing forward and realizing more successes. I didn’t accept this as a sign of defeat – instead I chose to see it as an opportunity to lead me to new successes. Bigger ones.

Don’t let one moment of setback put failure in your mind – not a writing rejection, not a house that could be cleaner, and not the lack of holiday decorations at home. Keep taking the moment to look around and see the little successes. Let them push you forward to the next one. Maybe next time it makes the cut. And if not, let it guide you forward even more.

If you’re willing, I’d love to hear about your own obstacles, how you overcome failure, or even some of your successes. Let me know, either in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email: hsellers@heather-sellers.com

NaNoWriMo is Over – How Does it Feel?

let your dream be bigger than your fears signage beside plate with fruits

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We’ve come to the end of NaNoWriMo 2018 and I just want to start this week’s post by saying congratulations to everyone that participated, it was a long road and you did it!!

Statistics time – what did the numbers look like?

The goal for NaNoWriMo winner’s is 50,000 words and I ended the month with 19,322 words so it was not an official win. What the last week’s daily stats looked like:

  • Monday, November 26th – 98 words
  • Tuesday, November 27th- 691 words
  • Wednesday, November 28th – 1493 words
  • Thursday, November 29th – 100 words
  • Friday, November 30th – 222 words

While I did not win the official challenge I feel like I accomplished a different challenge. I created better writing habits. Even on days where I only managed to eke out a paragraph I managed to maintain my writing time. I got to realize that working full time and raising kids doesn’t mean I don’t have time for my writing and that was a huge success for me all else aside.

I’ll be using my newfound appreciation for my writing time to actually finish the 50k words for my novel over the month of December and possibly even pushing into January if I find that my story keeps going. The new goal? Finish my novel and see what comes next.

What are some of the lessons I learned through the whole experience?

I have to say that I thought outlining would be my saving grace and in a way I definitely feel like that gave me a focus when writing was hard, but otherwise it seemed to be a piece of the process that got in my way. Do I think this will be a problem for everyone? Absolutely not. Some people work very well with outlines – and this was the first time I tried to use one, if I do another outline I will definitely make it a point to go more in depth with it, see if that makes a difference.

Some things I have heard people talk about during the month – sacrificing everything so they could win. This was a curious thought to me, because I certainly can appreciate having to give up things during the month to make my writing happen where I could. Things like binge watching TV, or playing cell phone games as a way to wind down. But sacrificing everything? This is something that seems not healthy, or even feasible in some ways.

The author’s I heard foregoing a good night’s rest to make their word counts? They now lose the entire month of December as they try to “catch up” on lost sleep. Other things that are difficult to give up for a month? Work, kids, school, relationships with those that are important (spouses, significant others, etc. …) – unless you were lucky enough to have time off for the month, or maybe have started your NaNo career before or after children, in which case this is a little easier.

When you get down to making the list of things to give up, make sure you sacrifice the things that really are just extra. Take care of yourself, get good rest, eat right, make it a point to do healthy activities. Unless you trained for the marathon you should consider that the steps you took are going to take you farther than the ones you didn’t take.

Do I think I’ll do NaNo next year? Undecided. It may not be for me, but I am glad I did it. If nothing else it opened my eyes to different ways of thinking and new processes that I can use to protect my writing time.

Did you win NaNoWriMo? How did it feel to participate this year? If you’re willing, I’d love to hear about how your NaNoWriMo went. Let me know, either in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email: hsellers@heather-sellers.com