Controlling the Cheetah

Last night I had a bizarre dream where I had just let a cheetah go, and I remember thinking in the dream, ‘Why did I do that? It could hurt someone.’ I also had the memory, in the dream, of having let a cheetah go before.

I didn’t know what it could be about until I told my husband. He laughed. “Well, NaNo is coming up.”

During November, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year, I wrote 201,000 words and finished the first draft of two novels. But I paid for it with tight gluteus muscles for months. I took regular stretching breaks. I wrote while standing for a portion of each day. I took walks, but I still overdid it and was uncomfortable driving, watching a movie, etc.

In order to write the first draft of two novels, I spent 10-12 hours a day writing intensely, and I did this seven days a week until the 29th of November. I then visited a chiropractor, varied my sitting habits entirely, and still can’t sit in a soft chair for very long. So, I don’t want to do that again.

My goal this year is about 100,000 words. I’ve only plotted out one novel, so it should be easy to stick with it and not write so much that I’m sore for months afterward. But I’ve had a goal of being ‘more sane during November’ before. Two years ago when I finished early, I worked on ‘Alien Flag of Surrender’ and wrote about 60,000 words on that novel as well as 100,000 on the first one. My wrists hurt for weeks afterward, so last year I was careful to ensure my wrists weren’t being strained.

Clearly, I need help in keeping the cheetah chained. My plan this year is if I’ve written 3,000 words on a given day, then I have to do at least a half hour of Yoga before I write more. And if I get above 4,000 words and it’s before 3:00, then I have to do some painting of the bedroom that’s been needing to be painted for years. I get bored after 15-20 minutes of yoga, and I’ve avoided painting that bedroom all summer.

It’s a little strange to give myself ‘punishments’ for writing a lot, but I really don’t want to get too carried away. I want to write a great first draft and have the words flow, but not get so caught up in writing that I spend 12 hours a day doing this.

Who know? Maybe I’ll get two bedrooms painted. Although the dream about letting the cheetah go loose does make me wonder about what happens next. Seems like it might make an interesting story.


About Katherine Lato

Writer, thinker, observer and participant in life.
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