I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I’m eight days in, one thousand words behind, and I kind of want to cry. I don’t really want to give up, but this challenge is no freaking joke. Even for somebody who likes to write and has a pretty regular journaling habit.
For those of you who haven’t heard of it NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every November there is a semi-gimmicky writing program that urges aspiring writers to pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November towards a novel draft. Check out the website here:
It’s totally free. You can sign up for a region, go to local meet ups and find inspiration and possibly some writing buddies. If you are doing it friend me…
LRyhs is my name, and please don’t judge me my title and synopsis are not the best, no picture either I’m basically just signed up to be buddies with the works peeps that are also writing this month.
50,000 words doesn’t sound so terrifying when you break it down its roughly 1600 words a day. Well, here’s my first word of advice…
Don’t get behind.
Just don’t please don’t it makes the whole thing too daunting. I took one day off yesterday while already 1,000 words behind. That meant today I was supposed to write 4,000 words. Which I didn’t do in fact, I only wrote about 3,000. It was easy to do though, as I had the day off and was able to hole up in a coffee shop for 3 hours mid-day, that helped. Tomorrow I’m still at the 1,000 lag plus my new 1600 for the day, and guess what, it’s almost tomorrow. Tomorrow just doesn’t stop coming in this challenge. There just comes a point in the day where your writing and attention turns to crap and you just should stop. I think I wrote a line to the effect of Lydia had large brown eyes, the gentlest eyes Nora had ever seen. This made me gag ever so slightly, and I made sure to highlight it and remind myself to go back and rework it later , and hung up my hat for the day.
That’s the thing, you can’t get in your own way here, and as much as you want to hit a number you should try at least, to not just be pumping out trite BS. I know what you are thinking, that’s not writing, that’s not creative, that’s encouraging people to just write garbage so they can hit an arbitrary number and convincing them that anybody can and should write.
Let’s look at it in a slightly less cynical light. NaNoWriMo is a great way to help people get started, to give people a glimpse into how much work the writing process is and to get them in a habit of writing daily, even when they don’t want to. Like starting a gym routine, it’s work, and unless you are some big name person, or a professional novelist this is work you are NOT getting paid for and there may be no external rewards for doing it, ever. But if you want to do it, do it, go for it. Do the work, don’t let anything stand in your way and find others who support you in this.
There are so many layers to writing a novel. The planning, research, mapping, outlining, then the actual writing. I mean the most I’ve ever written was in the 35,000-word range and not only did the writing of it take about four months, and the attempts at self-editing that followed the writing were just atrocious. There’s all kind of consistency issues, voice issues, syntax errors, jumbled grammar, notes to self I forgot to take out, so many things. Which direction was the store? What was that street name again? Do all the timelines match up and make sense? I think that I had like 3 different names for one character at some point and two different names for the same street. These are things that you don’t really think about if you’ve never done a long piece of fiction. I tried to get some pals to look at it for me, but that’s just asking way too much of somebody who already has way more important things to do than read your silly novella. But hey, you have to learn somewhere, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to do just that. To practice, to learn, and to DO something rather than just talking about it. There’s much respect in that.
The reason I committed to this one is that we are trying a pilot program at the U to see if the students are interested in something like this. We put everything together kind of last minute and it’s a bit all over the place but it hasn’t been shall we say “successful” as a program. There is a ridiculous amount of signage in the library, a display case, and a sign with upcoming events. A couple people came to the kickoff party, I wasn’t there to see it I had my job at the public that day, but so far, we have had 0 people show up to our drop-in events. I mean there’s myself, and my co-worker who showed up to write but we were staffing the events so does that count? I say yes, but only to beef up our numbers to 2. Sigh. I mean, it’s tougher in an academic library to do these kinds of programs. These students are already reading tons for their classes and working on midterms and projects and papers and all sorts of things. Maybe asking them to write in this crazy boot camp style just isn’t appealing to them. I thought that maybe we would have a taker or two, but not so far. Oh well, we learned and maybe there will be a next time, maybe not. I suppose the month is only about 1/3 over and anything can happen.
The struggle is real, but so are dreams and goals. There’s leg work, work and work, and more work. There’s mistakes, rejections, doubts, and breakthroughs. I think the trick here may be enjoying the journey, allowing yourself to be a beginner, and having fun while you are at it. I’ll keep you updated on the progress, god bless it if I finish I’m going to throw myself a party. Honestly, a party, even if it’s just me that shows up. I’ll invite the cat, who knows maybe he’ll wake up.
Wait, I just wrote my 1000 words. So what if it wasn’t part of the story, I’m giving myself the W for today.
image obtained from: http://andimjulie.blogspot.com/2012/06/camp-nanowrimo-laundry-popsicles.html