November marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where those crazy enough to sign up for this adventure will crank out 50,000 words in thirty days. Last year I not only joined, but found four friends from my writer’s group to join as well. The hope strove towards camaraderie and support. For the whole month, we furiously typed 1700 or so words a day, or more, in the hopes of completing a story.
I believe that the toughest situations, such as facing life or death, or in this case the NaNoWriMo contest, brings out the best of a person. Pushing oneself strips the soul to the bare necessities and reveals you to the core. You see what you are made of.
I can’t tell you how often I wanted to quit. Self doubt screamed at me. When the thirty days ended, and I won the little graphic that marks me as a ‘winner’, I discovered I gained so much more;
I learned of myself that I can in fact set deadlines for myself. I didn’t think I was capable of writing that much each day. This also showed me how important it is to set deadlines in order to get things done. Procrastination and excuses tend to get in the way of writing. Set and follow deadlines!
I discovered how supportive my husband could be. Instead of cleaning or giving him attention, I was tapping out chapter upon chapter. Without his nudge here and there, or the cups of coffee he brought to me, I’m not sure if I would’ve lasted.
I found that pushing out 50,000 words in thirty days produces crap. I won’t lie to you. Forcing myself to write when not inspired created page upon page of mundane writing. I wouldn’t let anyone read what I did, but the idea here is that the story line was done. There it set, in black and white, waiting to be edited and molded into something better. (Which every novel needs to go through anyway). I had the framework completed, the bare plot line unfolded.
I could shut off my self editor. This is sometimes necessary for a writer to get a story completed. Too often I find myself in the middle of a story, but then I want to change a character’s name, or even the gender. I start editing scenes, shifting locations, or changing where the story even begins. This leads to frustration and feeling overwhelmed, so that the story gets set aside and never finished. Shutting off that inner-editor, and getting the story cranked out helps immensely to completing a story. Then- and only then- do I edit and make those changes.
Am I joining NaNoWriMo this year? I haven’t decided yet. I’m not even sure if the next 50,000 book will be fiction but something more instructional. I’ve also started homeschooling my son, and know this year I wouldn’t have the time as I did last year to write a novel. I would, however, recommend to those who haven’t joined to consider the experience.