Shorter Days, Higher Word Counts

24 Oct

It’s snowing as I write this. Not the casual first flakes of fall that melt before they hit ground covered in aspen leaves and pine needles, but real snow. The kind that turns the world white and leads to a frustrating commute behind unprepared drivers going 38 mph on the highway. Two days ago it was fall, and now, while the calendar still says that’s true, I look out the window and see winter. And winter makes me want to write.

Last year at this time I’d just started seriously trying to put words, words about fictional characters I’d created in my own head, on to the page. I had three ideas for novels tugging at the back of my brain, with a few random scenes written for each. And right about this time, a week before the start of November, I decided to try NaNoWriMo. I picked one idea and for the month of November I wrote. I didn’t manage to write every day and I didn’t manage to win, but I proved to myself that I could sit down and write a significant chunk of a novel in a month. And if I could do that? I could sit down and FINISH a novel.

I haven’t yet. I haven’t finished anything. In the last year I’ve grown tremendously as a writer. I’ve taken huge steps requiring me to be a lot braver than I generally am. I’ve joined a writing group, had my work critiqued, joined this blog but … I haven’t finished anything. I stopped even really trying to write over the summer. I had reasons for going on hiatus. I know I did. But now it’s winter again. It’s been a year and I haven’t finished anything.

I want to write. Because it’s winter and I know I can put words on the page during winter. Long dark mornings and evenings are productive for me. I can curl up in a chair by the fire with my laptop, distractions hidden so long as I don’t turn on too many lights. I’m lucky enough to have a job where my bosses don’t mind if I write when it’s slow, and it’s very slow now. I’ve decided to do an unofficial attempt at NaNoWriMo. (Unofficial because I’ll be working on a project I’ve already started.) And sometime this winter maybe I’ll finish something. And next spring and summer won’t be so hard for the writing because I’ll know that not only can I write a good chunk of a novel, I can finish one as well.

Surviving a mountain winter requires optimism–believing that while it seems like the snow will never end, it will. The geese will pass overhead on a return flight, the hummingbird feeder will need to be placed back on its hook, and the daffodils will bloom. Being a writer requires even more–the ideas will keep coming, the words won’t stop, and I will write a novel.

What about you? Do you find writing comes easier during a certain season? I know writers write. I know that professional writers treat writing like a profession. They sit down, and they write, whatever the weather, whatever the distraction. But I’m glad it’s winter again.


Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Idaho, NaNoWriMo, writing, writing motivation


12 responses to “Shorter Days, Higher Word Counts

  1. Janis McCurry

    October 24, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Um, no. In my case, writing with a “W” isn’t easy at any one time. If I’m writing a scene I’m sure about, it flows faster, but I’m not sure easier is in my vocabulary when it comes to writing. While that might sound pessimistic, it tells me I have to work at it. I’m not writing because it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever attempted. Some days, I’m not even sure WHY I put myself through it. 😉 At the end of the day, I believe there’s magic in love and that’s why I write romance. I want happily ever after for my peeps.

    • Corina

      October 24, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      I think we have very similar attitudes to writing Janis. It’s never easy. Ever.

  2. Peggy Staggs

    October 24, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Until this year I’ve treated writing like a business. I write every day. This past year I’ve been slacking off. With things settling down I’m ready to get back in the grove and get some words on paper. I know I’ll be much happier when I’m back on schedule.

    • Corina

      October 24, 2012 at 3:18 PM

      I keep meaning to treat writing like a business. I really do. But I’m not there yet. I’m so impressed by people like you who do! I’m really hoping that this NaNoWriMo will help me get into some better habits.

  3. Stephanie Berget

    October 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I find it easier to write in the winter, too. If the weather is good, it’s tempting to be outside and there’s so much to do out there. I’m looking forward to fall and winter, but I’m sure I’ll be glad when spring arrives.

    • Corina

      October 24, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      Stephanie, I know that by the time winter ends I’ll be thrilled, but there’s something about a new season that screams new possibilities and yet another chance to create good habits.

  4. marsharwest

    October 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    I”m envious of your beautiful snow, Corina. It’s supposed to hit 86 today, but may not if the clouds don’t burn off. I’m looking foward to the weekend when temps will drop to the low 50’s. LOL I know by y’alls standards that’s nothing, but I’ll take what I can get.

    When I first started writing seriously–about five years ago after I’d retired from “principaling,” I was lucky to fall in with two other gals in my writing chapter. We didn’t know one another from–a stranger in the mall–(that was my attempt to get away from the cliche “from Adam” or “the man in the moon.” None of us had finished a book, but one had been writing for many years, and had a ton of stories begun. We met once a week with the goal of bringing 20 pages. Well, I’m telling you she finished her first novel and we finished ours. We didn’t always make our 20 page goal, but striving to, got the words on the paper. Not that those first words on the paper were particularly good, but the books got done. Once the words are there you can always fix them.

    I’m not one of those people who write new words for a WIP every day, maybe I’m blogging like today, or I’m editing, or taking a class. Everyday, I do something connected to my writing.

    I had a very long dry spell while I was president of my writing chapter. Major doubts and not time. Probably the doubts were the reason I couldn’t find the time. 🙂 Anyway, the chapter has a writing retreat, where we just go and write–or brainstorm or whatever it is a person needs. My current CP is a counselor and worked with me before that weekend last year to shut my critical self in the closet and bring out only my creative self. I cranked out 15,000 or so words that weekend. Did little socializing with the others, and they understood and were okay with that. We have that same retreat the first of next month, and I’m hoping to be able to finish that book. I’ve got about 150 K words so that’s halfway, and the rest is mostly planned out. We’ll see.

    I guess what I’m trying to say to you is find what works for you, Corina. We all do this thing differently, and that’s okay. Probably the only thing not okay is not to finish the book. I do believe we have to write to get better. I’m not pubbed yet, but I can see that time drawing closer. Good luck to you and take another look at that beautiful snow for me.

    • Corina

      October 24, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      Marsha, thanks for the encouraging words. The fog’s rolled in and everything is silver and white, including the sun. It’s always good to be reminded that the weather that’s kind of making me want to cry right now is something I chose and that others envy. I’ll keep looking for that thing that will turn this writing thing from a too infrequent hobby into a daily habit.

      150k words as halfway? You are truly inspiring.

      • marsharwest

        October 24, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        LOL Well, not as inspiring as you thought, Corina I confuse my word count and page count sometimes. 150 pages, and half through. 🙂 Who’d want to read something 300,000 words long? I usually end up with 89-94,000 words. Still writing 15,000 words in one weekend was a personal best for me. So glad I checked back.

        • Corina

          October 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM

          Ha! That’s more reasonable 15k words in one weekend though is AMAZING. I’m still completely impressed.

  5. maryvine

    October 24, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Usually, summers are best for me because I get a summer break from work – but not this past summer. This fall has been better, then company arrived, but I should be back at it very soon and plan to get the manuscript ready to go by new year. I have been getting a book out every other year since 2007. That says something about my speed. Other than summer writing, 100 New (new words a day for one month) with my writer’s group has helped and also setting aside one hour a day, five days a week, has helped, too.

    • Corina

      October 24, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      Mary, that’s exactly what I need to do. I need to schedule my writing and not wait for inspiration to strike. I wish I could write in the summer. I did pretty well at the retreat, but summers are so blessedly short here in the mountains and this one was so spectacularly gorgeous I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe by next summer I’ll have weaned myself from relying on my laptop and I can do the old-fashioned thing and write on the lawn with a pad and pen.


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