Re-aligning Expectations + Parenting, NaNoWriMo, Punctuation, & the DOJ v. PRH

How setting expectations helps in NaNoWriMo + parenting; business webinars; marketing insigh; power of punctuation; Harvard Bookstore recs; a juicy lawsuit; literary awards; & the best fall pasta bake

Greetings readers & writers,

Happy National Novel Writing Month to those who are participating! For those unfamiliar, it’s an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in one month (and they have free inspiring resources all year round). I am once again participating, revisiting and completely re-imagining my very first NaNoWriMo project from my earliest days of parenthood.

I chose to do NaNoWriMo as a new parent because I was feeling that dissonance between my self as a writer and my self as a mom. I needed something to get back into the routine and mindset of writing. Without much in the way of a writing support group at the time, NaNoWriMo was built in community and accountability.

I didn’t even make it to the halfway mark. I wrote the same chapters over and over, trying to get a foothold. It wasn’t a novel, it was barely a first act. I felt like a failure.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Especially when toiling in isolation, it’s hard to approach one’s work with any kind of objectivity. I’d written 18,000 words in a month when I was hardly getting any sleep, had just gone back to work, was still washing bottles every night. What seemed like a failure at the time, in retrospect, was a spectacular success. I proved to myself that I wasn’t going to give up writing. I showed up to NaNo again the next year (“failing” once again). But after that, I started the novel that would get me an agent.

So much of being both a writer and/or a parent is managing expectations: our own and our children’s. When my kid breaks down because they can’t get something right the first time, because they have to practice, because something doesn’t come easy, I put my mama hat on and soothe them with reassurances that we all need time to improve our skills. What their teacher calls “productive struggle.” These small “failures” are just little stepping stones on the way to greater ability. The best part is that you showed up and did it. And you learned.

I try to turn that compassion back on myself, when I remember to, both when it comes to my writing and when it comes to my abilities as a parent. I definitely often feel like I’m screwing both up. But then I try to sit myself down and think about who’s expectations I’m trying meet? Because the only person’s expectations who matter are mine. I get to decide what NaNoWriMo looks like to me and that setting boundaries for my writing time has value. I get to decide that an hour or so of TV time a day isn’t rotting my kid’s brain, but is allowing us both a little peace.

So instead of agonizing over every missed day or word count deadline, I’m continuing to embrace the slow. I’m letting NaNoWriMo be about making more words, even if it isn’t all the words “expected.”

If you want to chat more about using parenting skills in our writing and writing skills in our parenting, I hope you can join me for my seminar this weekend. In the meantime, consider: How might re-aligning your expectations meet your current needs as a writer and/or parent?

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Reading Corner

Looking for the right book to gift or read this season? You can check out some of my recommendations or peruse Harvard Bookstore’s Holiday Hundred list! They’re also hosting their annual Warehouse Sale virtually this week, with some truly stellar, deeply discounted titles!


Industry News


Recipe

I’ve been drinking all my usual tea favorites (Pukka anyone?) so instead I wanted to share a new favorite autumnal dinner that was even a big hit with my winter-squash objecting family. This Butternut Squash Baked Pasta was both deeply savory and a little bit sweet, the perfect vegetarian comfort pasta bake that’s easy to prep ahead. Add a little dried sage to give it that extra seasonal vibe!

Kind of mess because I forgot to take a picture until we’d eaten most of it! Topped ours with fresh mozzarella and served with chopped, roasted almonds. Forgot the basil. Everyone still had second helpings.

Take care of yourselves and each other. Get some fresh air or go for a walk. Order books early from indie bookstores. Take a lingering sip of a warm beverage. Take 10 minutes to take action. And remember to do some writing for you.

~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
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