Why Do I Feel Like I’m Cheating?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you don’t expect much from yourself, and then you do better than you expected, you suddenly feel like maybe you’re doing it wrong?

Take NaNoWriMo (or NaNo, for the even lazier of us) for instance.  We are now on day 4.  Day 3 technically, for me, since I haven’t written anything new today.  I’m still working through the day job, hoping the flow of work picks up (nothing to do right now, that’s why I’m blogging).  So, for me, we’re only 3 days into a 50,000-word month, which I fully intended to fail at.  Heck, I barely find time to write my grocery list once a week, how in the world would I find time to write 50,000 words–half a novel– in one month?

Again, it is day 3.  I have 11,286 words. 

Why do I feel like I MUST be cheating?

Because I am 10% through the month, but 23% through my word count goal!  How can this be? I don’t have time to write.  Just ask me, I’ll tell you!  I’ll tell you every day if you want to know.  I. Do. Not. Have. Time. To. Write. 

So, how am I doing this, you ask?  What have I given up in the past three days to accomplish this feat?  Let’s see, this is what I haven’t given up:

  • Watching TV…saw How I Met Your Mother on Monday night, then Big Bang Theory and Castle last night.  Sunday night I watched an episode of True Blood and Eastwick.
  • Work…I had Sunday off, granted, but worked 7 hours on Monday, and 5 hours yesterday.  Same as every week. 
  • Family obligations…spent last night shuttling son and nephew to taekwondo, will do so again on Friday.
  • Socializing…I have spoken at length on the phone to 2 different people 3 times yesterday and once on Monday.  About my norm. My daughter hasn’t been suffering from withdrawals, so she must be getting her fair share of mom’s attention.  Hubby is content and not putting up a sign proclaiming his NaNo Widower status.
  • Bathing…okay,so I’m still in my PJ’s at noon today, but that’s pretty normal, too.  I work at home after all.  Who would Ipretty up for?  But I’m clean. 

If I’m not giving all that up, what the heck am I doing?  Thinking about writing.  And then actually writing. 

Sunday, Darling Daughter and I spent about 2-1/2 hours at our favorite coffee shop.  We repeated this on Monday night, but only for 2 hours.  We wrote the entire time, racing each other, putting noses to grindstones and concentrating on our stories.  I also wrote a few hundred words at taekwondo last night before I spent the rest of the time chatting Serena.  Then, I came home, made dinner, and wrote until TV time. 

I think the biggest eye-opener about NaNo (aside from the fact that I actually DO have time to write) is that when I am this immersed in a book, my mind works on it all the time.  When I write in my normal typical, fiddle-farting along way, I tend not to think about the book unless I’m actually at the computer, which can be postponed, put off, and procrastinated into being only once or twice a week for a few minutes!  So, essentially, I never think about the book. 

Now though, my characters are flowing through my head, kicking back in my brain and letting my unconsciousness meld with theirs.  I’m discovering their stories as my vision of the story unfolds. 

Why does it feel like cheating?  Because I don’t feel like it’s a struggle? (Yet. It’s a long month, there’s still plenty of time to struggle.)  I’m adding new words, I’m following the rules, I’m not typing “this sucks this sucks this sucks” over and over just to fill up space.  I’m writing. Really writing.

Maybe it’s not that I feel like I’m cheating on NaNo.  Maybe it’s that I feel like I’ve been cheating myself, and my career, all along.  By not living up to my potential. 

Have you ever really suprised yourself at what you could do if you left the excuses at the door?

~ Shannon