02 December 2011

Guest Post: J. A. Bennett

Keeping the Pace during the Holidays
My name is
J. A. Bennett and I'm visiting from A Book, A Girl, A Journey for another life list Friday. Gary is a guest at Pam Hawley's blog today so be sure to hop on over there when you're done here.

Like many of you, last month I participated in NaNoWriMo. Those of you who joined will understand my trepidation about taking on the venture. Fifty. Thousand. Words. Stop and think about that number for minute. If you told someone you planned on running Fifty Thousand miles in a month how do you think they would react? 

 Let's do a little comparison here - running and writing. Before NaNo, I felt like someone who had never really run before. Sure, I had taken a few jogs around the block, I maybe even sprinted a few hundred feet. But running, and staying dedicated to running, that was the idea that frightened me from wanting to participate in NaNo.
The other thing that held me back was the gaping hole on the calendar. My husband and I had been planning a trip to Colorado and we would be gone six days. Two of those days would be spent driving. One of those days was Thanksgiving, and another one we reserved for some old friends we hadn't seen in a while. That only gave me two days to do any form of writing and even then I wasn't sure how much I could get done.
Well guess what, despite my reservations, I did it! I wrote Fifty thousand words. Whoa.

Here are a few things I learned along the way that might help you through the busy holiday season.
1. Keep a Schedule
I am mother of two toddler aged children, I am busy all day long. Any life lister will tell you how important my kids are to me, and I didn't want to shove them in a corner just because it was the month of November. So I set a time. Actually I set two times. The first was while my daughter was napping. I would make sure my son had gone potty, gotten his snacks, gotten his blankie, and then I would let him watch TV. For that hour, it was mommy's writing time and he was not allowed to ask for anything.
The second time was after everyone was asleep, it usually started about 10:00pm and went to midnight. Yes, I got less sleep, but I achieved my goal.

2. Tell People
I made sure my husband knew ahead of time that I wouldn't be coming to bed with him every night, and my family in Colorado knew that I might be taking a bit of time away to squeeze a little writing in. No one got mad at me for wanting to work at achieving my dreams. In fact just the opposite was true, they wanted to encourage it. It doesn't hurt to have people pushing you to write.

3. Don't Expect Perfection
There were days during Nano when I didn't write much and other days when the words just came. It's okay, not every day is going to be perfect (and neither is your writing so just put the editor away for a while). Your only expectation should be that you're willing to continually chip away at your goal until it is done.

What did you do to get through NaNo? If you didn't do NaNo what do you do when you feel like giving up on your dreams?


J. A. Bennett is a stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Besides writing, she has a passion for cooking and good movies. She blogs at A Book, A Girl, A Journey about writing and other life musings. She is currently working on a young adult novel that involves time travel, world destruction, and the awkwardness of teenagedom.  She is also on Twitter, Facebook, and Google plus.


  1. Awesome advice, Jennie! In my humble opinion, your steps are just right. I didn't do NaNo, but I do listen to the wise words of people, like you, who have experienced a tough schedule. It sounds like you ahd it under control without beating yourself up it you didn't write on a given day. Congratulations on winning NaNo! You rocked it!

  2. Congrats Jennie! You really did plan out time each day and that's the difference where you succeeded and I only made it a quarter of the way. I'm really happy that you had a support network around you while you worked on your writing. That is crucial. Can't wait to hear how you work with that story now!

  3. Congratulations are in order for you Jennie. As far as I can tell, you may be the only LLC member who took part in NaNo and finished. It's a sign of what you're made of and you have work-product to show for it. Best wishes on following up and publishing it.

  4. I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, but I'm getting more and more interested in doing so next year. Congratulations on meeting your goal. These are all helpful tips. Will be interested next in seeing where your new book leads you. Are you ready for revisions? Or are you going to take a break for awhile?

  5. @Marcia - I wanted to beat myself up but instead I just put my nose to the grind-stone, lol.

    @Jess - thanks! I'm planning on finishing it this week (I wrote 25,000 words on it before NaNo) then I'm taking a little break (I've earned it) :)

    @Gary - Thank you Gary! It's the editing I dread :s

    @Elizabeth - After I finish it this week I'm going to let it rest until January. I'm taking a short break, then planning on writing a couple of short stories and what not in that time. Then I planning on diving into revisions with the same vigor :)

  6. Jennie,

    I started NaNo and then was flat on my back for almost three weeks and did not "win." Still, the 10-15K that I was able to write is likely much more than I would have had in a month like the one I just had.

    NaNoWriMo, to me, is about the journey and the hope of a new book. The 50K is exciting, but it's almost never my actual goal. Plus, it's very exciting for me to see my friends making the goal so I always love it, even when November is a rough month.

    To Elizabeth: Do it next year!! You won't be sorry. :-)

  7. Great advice! And mega congratulations!!! I wasn't ready for NaNo this year but I was so excited to cheer for everyone else.

  8. I luv J.A.'s blog...this one's pretty rad too:)


We'd love to hear from you. Don't be shy.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.