It does not take much to derail a #NaNo project. At least that’s how it seems to me. For the last two years, I have reached 50,000 words in about 26 days. But then again, I was not doing a virtual book tour, blogging every day, and hosting Thanksgiving.
Last week was all about getting ready to host the Thanksgiving dinner. NaNo? What’s that? We had to clean the house, plan the meal, learn how to cook a turkey and then actually do it. To make it more interesting, our dogs decided to go stark-raving bonkers on us. On Sunday night, twelve-year-old Muffin peed all over the carpet in the library (he NEVER does that). On Monday night, just as I was serving dinner to my children and a dear friend, eight-year-old Sophie had a seizure, puked all over the kitchen floor, and then rolled in it. (I know, I know—it’s disgusting. Be thankful you just have to read about it.) Thankfully, both dogs spent Tuesday at the beauty shop. On Wednesday, as I was madly trying to catch up with word count, bake a bunch of desserts, and clean—Sophie pooped all over my son’s carpet upstairs. (And I do mean ALL OVER.) Not to be outdone, on Thanksgiving morning Muffin hacked up a hairball (yes, he is a dog) on my office carpet. If this were a commercial, I think I’d need more than Calgon to take me away. Maybe a bottle of red wine and some good dark chocolate?
Now back to National Novel Writing Month. When life gets crazy, music reminds me to stay focused and keep writing. In my new book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It), I encourage writers to create a soundtrack for their novel or nonfiction book. But it’s not a bad idea to also make a playlist of songs that encourage you to create. Here are some of my favorites:
Change, Tracy Chapman. Every creative act begins with some sort of call to action. Most writers can tell you about the time when they finally stopped denying the desire to write and just did it. Chapman’s song Change prods us would-be artists to get to work on our writing.
How bad, how good does it need to get? How many losses? How much regret? What chain reaction would cause an effect? Makes you turn around, Makes you try to explain, Makes you forgive and forget? Makes you change?
Brand New Dream, Michelle Malone. Most of us need to leave something behind in order to write—even if it is only our doubts and fears. This song reminds me to kick out the fear, because I have a brand new dream:I got a brand new dream and you’re not in it You don’t know what you got ‘til they push you to the limit
Dare You to Move, Switchfoot. I try not to let the lizard part of my brain make plans for me (that’s the Amygdala, the part of the brain that encourages fight and flight). The Amygdala would like to keep me curled up in bed, terrified to get out and get moving. No way! Switchfoot encourages us to get up and get moving with their words:The tension is here Between who you are and who you could be Between how it is and how it should be I dare you to move
Welcome to Wherever You Are, Bon Jovi. On the days when I think I have not done enough writing or what I have written is not good enough, Bon Jovi straightens me out:Welcome to wherever you are This is your life, you made it this far Welcome, you gotta believe That right here right now, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be Welcome, to wherever you are
Mastermind, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Jack Canfield has said, “I don’t know anybody who has become supersuccessful who has not employed the principle of masterminding.” I agree. Since 2000, I have regularly met with several mastermind partners. Our connection provides me with accountability. I see the same thing happening with National Novel Writing Month. Suddenly, I am not the only one who writes every day. The world is filled with people who are talking about character, setting, plot, and word count. On the NaNoWriMo site and through social media, we connect with each other around writing goals and become a sort of mastermind group:Can you believe in something Bigger than what you left behind Like a balloon on a long string The recipe for the mastermind Working on a Dream, Bruce Springsteen. When I am working on one small part of a book project, it can be hard to believe that there is a finish line. In addition, with the publishing world changing rapidly, my long-held dream of writing books for children sometimes feels like a fantasy. Even so, when I am writing, it helps to know that I am working towards a dream that I’ve held dear for many years: I’m working on a dream Though sometimes it feels so far away I’m working on a dream And I know it will be mine someday
Save Some Time to Dream, John Mellencamp. I get my best ideas when I am driving, walking, daydreaming, or cleaning. Still, having been raised with a strong work ethic, it is hard for me to justify all of the hours I spend staring off into space. I was thrilled to discover this song by Mellencamp. Whenever I feel guilty for all of the time I spend daydreaming, I put on Mellencamp and listen to his prescription to dream.Save some time to dream Save some time for yourself Don’t let your time slip away Or be stolen by somebody else
Fly Away, Indigo Girls. For years, the Indigo Girls have been my favorite group. Their lyrics and musical arrangements always inspire me. In Fly Away, as in so many of the songs in my writer’s playlist, we are encouraged to connect to our creative self and create.Fly away little bird Find the song in you that no one’s heard Strengthen your wings as you sing your solo flight Through this short life . . . Fly away little bird The saddest song I ever heard Was the one I wrote you in my heart That never made it to the world.
Your turn: What songs have encouraged you to write?