No NaNo Blues

It’s November, which seems to be one of the busiest months of the year for a lot of people. There’s the circus of the election every couple of years and the obligatory bitching/gloating that accompanies it, the coming of Thanksgiving day feasts and football. For the truly crazy (or those cursed with jobs in retail or customer service), there’s Black Friday stampedes sales and fist-fighting shopping. There’s decorating for Christmas, Christmas shopping, visiting with family. I have finals for my last class of the semester, my birthday and for some 300,000 writers, there’s NaNoWriMo.

I’ve posted about NaNoWriMo before, but for those who weren’t around for it, the funky name is a shortened moniker for National Novel Writing Month. Writers of all ages and skill level commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. The camaraderie you share with all these other crazy people tackling a huge number in a short period is pretty awesome. There’s something addictive about watching your word count rise and compulsively posting updates. There’s the thrill of the word war, the sprint and the bragging rights when you blow your daily goal out of the water. I always got gleeful dropping the novel into the verifier and getting my “WINNER” badge to parade around as an avatar.

To those who haven’t attempted it, the whole venture sounds imposing. While it can be intimidating, especially on a day when the words WILL NOT COME, it’s entirely possible. Some ambitious folks (who I don’t think work a full 40 hours a week) achieve way more than that.  More than once, I took on the NaNo challenge and succeeded. It took effort because there are days when you just don’t want to write, or days when hitting the daily target of 1,667 words seems impossible. It’s not, of course, but this is the way we all work. Some of us adrenaline junkies will procrasturbate until panic is writhing beneath the surface of our skin, then sit down and hammer out 7,000 words in one sitting. Mind you, this is a way to break a sweat without moving more than your fingers and earning a completely numb butt in the process, and is not something I’d recommend based on my personal experiences. However, it is do-able.

Right now, though, NaNo is not something I can commit to and see through, which makes me sad. With work, school and yoga, there’s not enough hours in my day to find the time to pound out almost 2k more words a day, or to feel comfortable with even a self-imposed deadline. I still write, usually a full hand-written page or so before bed on an average day, but there are days that pass with nothing but scribblings jotted on sticky notes or in my notebook for later action. Sometimes it’s a fragment of a scene that came to me (which may or may not be used), sometimes it’s a tidbit of world building, or maybe just notes on a character that will be involved in the story. The point is, it’s something, and more than putting down 50k words in 30 days, NaNo is about building a habit of BIC and doing the work. It’s about learning to shut off the internal censor and let the words flow. It’s about accepting that shitty writing happens sometimes and being ok with it; about acknowledging that rewrites and edits are for when the story is done. It’s about acknowledging that draft zero is crap compared to what the final draft will be, but that’s only in comparison; it’s about remembering that first drafts are SUPPOSED to suck and still finding the joy in spinning the thread to weave the tapestry of the story. It’s about acknowledging that writing a story is fun, but that good writing is WORK.

In support of my NaNo’ing friends and acquaintances, I’m wearing my NaNo hoodie (which is SUPER comfy, by the way) and wishing you all happy writing. Remember to pick up the traveling shovel if you get stuck, and don’t procrastinate!

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