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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Camp

I know I said I was going to start a series on beginnings/expectations, etc., and it's not been something like a umpteen bazillion years since I blogged.  The thing is, I have an excuse.  I got caught up in both endings and beginnings.  The end of the school year for my girls was filled with track meets and retrospectives and previews for next year.  Then, I walked immediately into my summer class, a fresh start and another chance for overly high expectations.

What really threw me off, though, was that at the last minute, I decided to go away to summer camp, Camp Nano, that is.  Just like November's NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. 

Guess what that means?  Yup, another beginning.  Thirteen days in, and I'm still on track.  Given the word counts of middle grade fiction, if I meet the goals, it should mean finishing it by the end of the month.  Thankfully, that will  allow me to tick off one of two summer writing goals earlier than expected.  I plan to write one novel and finish editing one short story. A novel this month will leave me plenty of time for the latter.

The nano idea works well for me overall, though it has limitations. Because the goal is to write fast, to avoid deleting or editing as you go, and mostly, just to write as much as possible, quality sometimes suffers. As a result, I typically wait several months after completing a nano novel to open the file and begin editing.  I need the space away so I can find the forest among the trees.

On the other hand, since I love beginnings, writing the middle of the novel can be de-motivating to me.  And sometimes, I think I can imagine going a year with out chocolate easier than writing an ending.  But nano'ing doesn't allow me to get wrapped up in the middle or stalled on the end.  It forces me to barrel through.

I don't think that's far off from what happens to me when other beginnings don't meet expectations.  I've definitely had to take that approach teaching.  I've certainly had to cover my eyes and run through the downpour of certain childrearing stages (no sleep, tantrums, etc.). 

This isn't to say that I think we should rush everything.  Obviously, that can make us miss too much. 

However, for me, getting through those boring middles and icky endings is pretty much a a Nike ad: Just Do It.  But then go back and reflect, process, make changes. When the bad semester's over, adjust the syllabus for next semester.  Terrible parenting day? Figure out the plan for tomorrow. 

There is always room for improvement, but you now have something upon which to improve, something you might not have had if you didn't force yourself to get through it in the first place.

What kind of things do you have to "just get through" in a day? In general?

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