What I Got From Nanowrimo

I’ve written approximately 1,700 words each day for the last thirty days.  I’ve written beside tennis courts, in Starbucks, on park benches, in sports halls, in the car, and in bed at 6:30 am every day.  The reason –  I’ve been taking part in Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month.

Most people who participate in Nanowrimo aim to write novels, but there is a growing minority of “Nano Rebels” who instead use November to write in their own chosen genre, be it short stories, a non-fiction book or even blog posts.  There’s even a dedicated section of the Nanowrimo website for rebels.  For this, my first, Nanowrimo I chose to write blog posts.

The rules are straightforward: write 50,000 words in your chosen genre in November. If you succeed, you get one of these:

And a lot more besides.

Why I Did Nanowrimo

1.      To practise writing

Would-be writers are usually inspired by other people’s great writing.  We’ve read enough to recognise good writing when we see it, and we also know bad writing when we see it.  Unfortunately this means we are only too aware of our own bad writing! This is the point when many quit.

What we need to remember is that most of those good writers we so admire had to do their own time writing badly while they honed their skill.  The more we write, the better we get, and gradually, over time, we begin to close the gap between our own writing and writing we admire.

2.      To find my voice

In the year since I started blogging I’ve often held myself back from writing about particular topics for fear of what other people might think.  This army of imaginary critics – friends, family and (highly imaginary) multitudes of anonymous readers had me in a creative straightjacket at times.

I relished the opportunity Nanowrimo gave me to write completely for my own pleasure, unfettered by any concerns about the army of critics looking over my shoulder.

3.      For the challenge

Because it was there. (And unlike climbing Everest, I could incorporate it into our homeschooling lifestyle.  Just about.)

What I got out of Nanowrimo

1.      The Satisfaction Of Achieving A Goal

Many people have goals but most – me included – rarely take the time to define a goal so clearly that it’s obvious when we have achieved it, or to allow ourselves to bask in the satisfaction we are owed.

Nanowrimo provides a perfect framework for doing that.  It was great doing something just for me.

Did I mention how much I love my winner’s badge? 🙂

2.      A Good Example

This may sound contradictory on the heels of the last paragraph, but  I liked knowing I was modelling some pretty good behaviours for the children:  goal-setting, commitment, and writing both for pleasure and to achieve an end.

3.      The “Squash And A Squeeze” Effect

In the children’s book A Squash And A Squeeze , a woman who complains that her house is too small is advised to take in one more of her animals each day.  Of course she soon finds herself more squashed than ever, and she begins to doubt the wisdom of the advice.  At this point she is told to turn out all the animals, whereupon – lo and behold – her house feels wonderfully spacious and the woman complains no more.  Finding the time to write 1,700 words a day has had a similar effect on my time management!

Writing took up a large proportion of the time we weren’t doing school and I wasn’t doing housework (or organising C’s birthday!). I began to make lists of things I would do when November was over, in the way I did at school when I was revising for exams!

It feels great to be beginning the busy month of December with a wonderful feeling of abundance of  time.

4.      Clarity about why I am blogging

I’ve always known that my primary inspiration for blogging is for me and my family to have a record of our homeschooling days.  But as an avid reader of other people’s blogs I knew I also wanted to offer something to others.  I just wasn’t quite sure who those others were.

Nanowrimo gave me the chance to find out what I’m inspired to write about when I’m doing it only to please myself.  I found that I love to write about our homeschooling and some of the day-to-day issues that accompany this lifestyle.   I also realised that I find it a great help to journal about personal concerns, and I’m going to keep this up outside of the blog.

Nanowrimo  begins again on 1 November 2012.  Why not give it a go?

Deliberate Creation

My blog byline (if that’s the correct word) describes me as a “home-educating deliberate creator”.  I use the words “deliberate creator” in the sense given by Abraham-Hicks in their body of work on the law of attraction.  I believe I am the creator of everything I experience, both positive and negative, which I attract by my thoughts and feelings. Since I came to understand this I have been playing a game of gradually training my focus towards what I want and away from what I don’t want.  I was born an optimist, which helps, but it’s amazing how much attention most of us (me included) give to unwanted conditions and situations.  As children we are brought up to tell “the truth” (tell it how it is), but while I can see the folly in sticking a happy face sticker over an empty petrol gauge, I’ve come to realise that giving my attention to unwanted things, for example by talking or writing about them, just keeps them in my life.

So this blog may seem a little Pollyanna-ish, and writing a post can take a bit longer than it might, on those days when I first need to focus my thoughts towards positive inspiration, but when I reflect on some of the incredible changes in my life since I started playing the deliberate creation game, there’s no question in my mind that it’s a price worth paying.

Reasons For Blogging (2)

(2) To create a record of our home educating life.

In 1980 I was given a plain blue “Page-a-Day” diary for Christmas.  I began filling the book with events from my days, filling any spaces with doodles and algebraic equations (I was a well-balanced eleven year old!).

So began a habit which continued, in lined notebooks of various sizes and colours, throughout my teens, twenties, thirties and now forties.  But while there is now more than ever I’d like to record about my life, my notebooks have evolved into what would more accurately be described as journals than diaries.  I use them as a tool to focus and improve my thoughts (and in turn my life experience) – to work through things I want to change and to set and prioritise intentions and goals. They’re more useful than ever, even interesting to look back on, but not much of a record of what we do on a daily basis!

This blog, then, is an opportunity to record some of the highlights of our family life during these precious years when our children are with us.  One day, I’m planning to have the time to look back on it!

So, here are some highlights from the last two days.

There was fencing:

Fencing…  chess …

Chess at Putney Group

… drama…

mask making at Putney group… and “boat”-building …Boat Building at The Lookout… and there were cuddles…

Cordie & Thomas

Reasons For Blogging (1)

I’m reaching the point in my blogging career (all three weeks of it, give or take the odd autumnal dabble) when my respect for those whose blogs have more than about thirty posts is growing fast.  So I thought it might be a good moment to remind myself of some of my reasons for doing it:

(1) I want to write, and by writing, get better at it.  It may take me a while to accrue Malcolm Gladwell‘s 10,000 hours to mastery (another 54 years, if I carry on as I am!) but I’m an awful lot more likely to get there – or even a tenth of the way there  – if I keep writing than if I stop now.


When I (along with several million other bloggers, no doubt) started posting again on 1 January, I resolved not to let perfectionism get in the way of writing regularly.  A book I very much enjoyed recently – “The Decisive Moment” by Jonah Lehrer – reminded me that making mistakes is one of the most effective ways of learning, so I shall post – and err – away.

In November 2007  my sister gave birth to a baby boy, S.  Three years on, that baby is a fully functioning person with a wide vocabulary, a big personality and all manner of physical skills and capabilities. In November 2010, my brother’s wife gave birth to a baby boy, T. In three years’ time T will be a fully functioning person with a wide vocabulary, a big personality, and all manner of skills and capabilities.  And what will I have to show for the passing of the next three years? Lots of things of  course, not least, God willing, a 10 year old daughter, an 8 year old son, and two lovely nephews.  But I’d also like, in celebration of scrumptious 6-week-old T and the miracle of life in all of us: (1) three years of daily writing experience, and (2) a record of some of my thoughts and the things we have done over our first three years as a fully home-educating family.

So should anyone ever be kind enough to accept my invitation to read this – please bear with me!

My Library Thing

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