Inktober. NaNoWriMo. A to Z Blog Challenge. I keep thinking I can do these month-long or daily memes, but I always stall after about ten days. Why is that?
I mean, it’s not as if I actually get bored with them. I love to write. I love to draw. Give me a subject to blog about and I can probably whip something up by the end of the day.
One reason is that they usually take place at the wrong time for me. Inktober and NaNoWriMo both take place during the last quarter of the year, when my Day Job is usually the busiest and the most stressful. There’s only so much brain power I can provide on any given day. Even something as quick as Inktober can be a chore if I can’t think of anything to draw that day. And if I skip a day, then I feel I’ve already given up. It’s stupid and annoying, yes, but it always happens.
How do I break that?
First of all, I have to remember that everyone of us has off days. Days when we get broadsided by so much Day Job ridiculousness that the last thing we want to do is think when we get home. We just want to have dinner and watch Time Team episodes all evening until it’s time for bed. [At least that was me yesterday.] It’s A-OK to skip a day; the meme will probably forgive you for that.
Second of all, sometimes there’s already a major project going on that needs more attention. I’ve just hit Act III in The Balance of Light so most of my focus has been on its editing. If I can sneak in a half-assed drawing in five minutes that I can post, that’s cool, but I have to remember that I don’t need to hit every single meme goal. If I was more of an artist and not a writer, sure, I probably would nag at myself a bit harder to hit that goal, no matter how ephemeral it might be. But writing has been the major driver here, with everything else riding shotgun. [This is the main reason I can’t do NaNo…I just don’t have the time to dedicate.]
I know what you’re saying right now: it’s just a meme! Don’t take it so seriously! Honestly, I don’t. I don’t beat myself up for missing a day. I may feel frustrated by it, but I won’t feel like a complete failure. But here’s the thing: I do these memes for fun, but I also see them as possible projects as well. Yes, even the maps…I either think of those as my ongoing portfolio, or possible worldbuilding reference. I know, it’s weird, but I’ve never been able to create something without thinking ‘hey, I could use that somewhere’. It’s just how I am.
It’s not as if I don’t know how to have fun on my downtime. As mentioned above, we’ve been watching old episodes of Time Team (the UK version) to relax, and I’ve been burning through my TBR book pile at a furious clip lately. I’ll watch music videos on YouTube and listen to new release streams online. I pick up one of my guitars for a few minutes every day just to noodle around on it. I just don’t always have time to provide to a month-long meme, is all.
Still, it would be nice to be able to dedicate a good block of time for these. Especially NaNoWriMo…I’m curious to see if I can actually write a full novel in a month. Maybe once my slate is finally cleared of all projects, I’ll give it a go.