Tag Archives: power outage

The Things We Take for Granted

We finally got our power back early this morning after nine days in the dark icebox that was our home. Connecticut is still dealing with the aftermath of the freak October 29 snowstorm, which caused more than 800,000 utility customers to lose power. Let me give a big “thank you” to the utility crew that traveled from Indiana to restore power on our street.

Spending nine days without power (actually we only slept in our cold house for four nights; we spent the rest of the time with friends and relatives) taught our family a huge lesson: we take a lot of things for granted. When we flip a switch, we expect the light to turn on. When we flush a toilet, we expect it to work. When we adjust the thermostat we expect the indoor temperature to rise. And that doesn’t even cover the luxuries like cable TV and Internet service.

Dealing with the ongoing power outage got me thinking about how much writers take for granted. One of the biggest things writers take for granted is time. There’s never enough time today, but there’s always more time tomorrow, or next week. I’ve certainly been guilty of that kind of thinking. Have you heard the one about the new club called the Procrastination Society? They needed to schedule a meeting, but they kept putting it off until tomorrow.

Procrastination goes out the window when you enter NaNoWriMo–even when you have no electrical power. It’s all about adaptability and resourcefulness. No laptop? Try pen and paper. No light? Go to a friend’s house or the nearest Starbucks. No time? Get up early. Write when others are watching TV at the house where you are staying.

This is not meant to make light of the real challenges writers face, especially writers with full-time jobs and families. Real life can get in the way and writers must strike a balance. Time management is key. Carve out time. Take your laptop with you. Write during those down times while waiting on a line.

Daily, weekly or yearly word counts are important. They’re worth striving to achieve. Self-imposed deadlines enforce good habits. Stay with it and provide your own power. The light at the end of the tunnel is your finished novel.

Here are the updated numbers:

Day 9 of blackout: Power restored!

Day 7 of NaNoWriMo: WIP is at 13,500 words.

Tomorrow I will share with you what my WIP is all about.

How do you balance life’s responsibilities and still find time to write?

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The Power of Urgency

Newspaper reporters understand the power of the deadline as a motivator. They simply don’t have the time to procrastinate. They have to meet deadlines every day. My 15 years of experience as a newspaper reporter prepared me well for the rigors of NaNoWriMo.

It could not have come at a better time. I was lurching toward the finish of my work in progress–a novella about politics, rap music, and social media. I wasn’t feeling it. Compounding my lack of productivity, I started this blog in September and it was taking a lot of time–time I could have spend writing fiction.

So why take up the challenge of NaNoWriMo? First, I have always wanted to do it. Second, I had a killer idea (forgive the pun) for a murder/mystery. This story had been in my head for about ten years. Third, I needed to shake the doldrums.

I had no doubt I could do it. Then Mother Nature put up an obstacle. On October 30, Connecticut got slammed by the worst autumn snow storm in its history. We are now into Day 6 without power. I initially began writing by hand but that didn’t work for me. I’m too wedded to writing on the laptop. We are staying with friends now and I am able to write every day. My entry, tentatively entitled, “Bonus Baby,” now is at 2,800 words.

The lesson here: there is no way I would have put in the kind of effort I have over the past four days, especially given the weather challenges, without the presence of the November 30 deadline for completing the novel. That is the power of urgency.

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