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How Saying No Helps Creative People
Where Fleur says no to NaNoWriMo and tries not to feel bad about it
I was recently asked to speak at a conference. Lucky me, right? It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly; I’ve worked hard to build that part of my creative life. But I said no.
The thing is, it was during a month where I was already overcommitted, with one (be it local) convention, and one out of state one that would mean travel and all the stresses that come with it. And I knew I would be wiped out physically and mentally because of that. So I said no to this cool invitation to speak.
But of course, I did feel a sense of regret.
I’m one of those people who wants to say yes to everything.
You’d think at my age, I’d know better, but my enthusiasm often gets the better of me.
Same goes for NaNoWriMo—that’s National Novel Writing Month, for those of you not familiar. It’s a fun, sorta competition, where you try to finish a novel draft of about 50k words in a month. I did it a few times, was successful one year (before Thanksgiving even, the overachiever that I am). It’s fun.
But I know that the timing isn’t right. I need to develop my next project first. Create a concept, characters, an outline. (More on this in a future post). And I just don’t like to write that fast. It leads to a crappy first draft for me, with too much editing at the back end.
I enjoy Austin Kleon’s posts, and he wrote one about negative space for artists. It was a good reminder for me to learn to say no, and that saying no can be a good thing.
Because when you say no to one thing, it means opportunity to say yes to another.
Yes to a slower, more enjoyable pace of creativity.
Yes to writing a stronger first draft, at my preferred pace. (and yes to less editing)
Yes to better (mental) health.
Yes to other stuff that makes me happy, like hiking and hanging out friends. Sitting down with Floof, also.
Yes to niksen (this is doing nothing in Dutch).
I’m still not very good at doing nothing, but I am getting better at being selective about what I give my time to. It’s the one commodity we only have so much of.
That said, I do have some Big Plans for this newsletter. A recent (very unofficial) poll told me that many of you subscribers are creative people yourself. I recently taught a class on how to plot a MG mystery that had a great turnout but left many of you disappointed you missed it.
Do not despair!
Because I have my own novel-length project planned, I thought I would share the steps to build a strong outline, right here in this newsletter.
I’m going to share my process, every week.
If you’d like, you can follow along. My goal is to have a finished novel draft by the middle of next year, and I’m going to show you exactly how I do that. More on this next week…
What I’m Writing
I finished revisions (yay!) on my top-secret YA mystery novel. It will need one more pass after my agent gives me feedback, but then it can hopefully go out into the world in 2024.
Otherwise, I’m brainstorming what’s next (as mentioned above). It’s always fun and scary at the same time…
On Writing Middle-Grade
I had a nice conversation about why I love to write MG mystery with Jason DeHart at Words, Images, & Worlds; you can watch it here on Youtube.
Where I’m Going
I have just a few events left for 2023, before it’s time for the holidays. If you can’t make it to any of these but you’d like a signed copy of my books, I’m always happy to mail signed bookplates and bookmarks (for free). Just shoot me a message.
Here’s where I’ll be:
Nov. 4, 1-3 pm: Signing at Covered Treasures Books in Monument, CO.
Nov. 18, 12-2: Signing at Books Are Awesome in Parker, CO.
I have a story representing Colorado in the upcoming anthology Haunted States of America, and the cover was recently released. It looks scary, right? Coming in July of next year. I’ll keep you posted on any happenings.
Floof has been a bit under the weather lately (a stuck hairball? I’m not sure…), so she’s claiming the baskets with room to nap. Winter is coming…