I should just provide the caveat – before I launch into this post – that this isn’t going to be one of my typical Random Thoughts posts where I pontificate or expound or ramble about a subject that I have thoughts and ideas on in a generic fashion.
While I definitely have thoughts on NaNoWriMo – oh how many thoughts I have – they’re mostly going to be of a personal nature rather than one in which I take an objective look at the month-long event.
So with that in mind….
For those of you who might not know what it is, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event of sorts where writers – published, fledgling, “aspiring,” best-selling – set a writing goal of 50,000 words and give themselves the month of November (30 days) to achieve that goal. Some writers start a new project, some attempt to finish one that’s been collecting dust – in their minds or on their hard drives. Some just use it to work through a tough scene.
Whatever they choose to write about, the idea is that they give themselves a word count and a deadline and hope that at the end of the month they’ve reached it.
The folks at NaNoWriMo.org have put together a much better explanation on their about page, HERE.
So last year, under a pen name that consisted of the first names of two characters in the story I was going to be working on, I decided to join in the “fun.” I’d initially agreed to participate because a friend of mine wanted a writing buddy. Of course she decided to opt out – notice I didn’t say chicken out – at the last moment, leaving me with the difficult choice of going it alone or quitting.
I decided to take a stab at it. And of course I failed.
I actually did fairly well up until Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. – the finish line was in sight, I had approximately thirty-five thousands words on the page. Then everything fell apart. I couldn’t pick things back up after having taken a couple of days off, and I fell so far behind on my word count that I just couldn’t muster up the drive…courage…energy… to push on through.
Whether it was poor time management, poor planning, or just a dip in creativity, I didn’t make it. And my WIP has been collecting dust on my MacBook Air ever since.
This year, with even less confidence than I had last year, I decided to join in again. And I’m terrified. With every day that passes I grow even more nervous about meeting with failure for a second year in a row.
Which is exactly why I decided to post about it here on the blog – well that and as way of explanation as to why things might be a little less active here this month. Because it’s so much easier to walk away when you – and just a few people close to you – know what’s going on versus when you announce something to the world at large.
And I really don’t want to quit before I have barely gotten started. I don’t think I’m that kind of a person.
But boy am I scared. Because I’m not sure whether the voice I have this year is exactly the same as the one I had last year. Which could mean very different things for the project I am working on. Where different equates to bad…horrendously awful…unredeemable.
Thankfully a new idea came to me just the other day, but I’m not sure whether I’m ready to abandon the project I was working on last year before embarking upon something new. But if the direction the story takes isn’t one I’m happy with by the end of the first week, I’ll switch to the new one and hope I have enough time to catch up.
I really don’t want to have another failed year. Oh how I do hate failure, though I am no stranger to it, nor it to me.
While NaNoWriMo isn’t an event that works for everyone – some writers need to be able to write without the pressure of deadlines, word counts or goals – I’m not one of those writers. While creativity only comes when it comes, if I don’t have a firm deadline in place, I won’t accomplish anything. Hence the year-long absence from my WIP.
Because I have so many other things taking my attention away – work, family, friends, blogging, household chores, television. And of course reading. My very favorite distraction of them all. So, writing always ends up on the bottom of that pile. Always.
As an adult I’d never planned on writing again. I figured it was just something I was passionate about in childhood. I’d started creating stories before I could pick up a pencil and I’d continued on through my Junior year in high school, at which point my characters said sayonara and that was that.
But last year, just days before NaNoWriMo was to begin, the introduction to a story popped into my head. Just like that. Out of nowhere. Much like this new story that came to me the other day.
So clearly I’m a pantser – meaning I write by the seat of my pants – and not a plotter. I can’t think far enough ahead in a story – even a short story – to know what happens just moments after the words I put down on the page. So how could I possibly think about how the story will wrap? I can’t.
But I’m hoping that even without the ability to plot I’ll be able to push forward this year and get those 1,667 words down on the page each day. And hopefully they’ll be something more than gibberish.
That remains to be determined.
I am, however, committed to trying to reach my goal this year and achieve that badge that says I am a winner, that I didn’t give up, that my story moved forward to the tune of fifty-thousand words.
It does mean, though, that something has to give. And I can’t quit my job. I can’t ignore my family. I can’t lose the few moments of sleep I get each night. And I can’t live in a slightly less-than-clean home. Which means television – oh how I will miss Damon Salvatore and Oliver Queen – blogging and reading. [Sobs.]
I can’t read stories, typically, while trying to create my own. I can’t spend the four to six hours writing a review when those same hours could be spent meeting word count goals. So, it means that there will be a few less books on my reading pile each week and practically zero reviews on the blog during the month of November and potentially December if my story does take on a life of its own.
I thought long and hard about abstaining from NaNoWriMo this year. I consider myself a reader and blogger more than a writer, and NaNoWriMo takes me away from both of these things that I adore. But I also don’t like to leave things unfinished, like the 100 or so draft posts I have across my various blogs, or the work in progress that has lain dormant for the past eleven months.
And so I’m trying this again. Hoping with everything I have to meet those daily word sprints, but hoping most of all to be able to come up with fifty thousand words that form sentences, that impart information, that provide entertainment, that lead me toward the finish line of my writing project, and that take me from the failure column and put me in the one marked winner.
But what about you?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Does writing with word count goals and deadlines help to focus you or does it hamper your progress or your creativity?
If you’re a Wrimo who is also a blogger, does getting lost in your own story prevent you from getting lost in those stories you read? Does it take away your time from blogging, from family, from friends or work or school? Or are you one of those with excellent time management skills and the ability to multi-task or juggle?
And are you one of those rushing to meet your daily word count goals at the end of each night before the clock rolls to the next day? Or do you meet your word count long before sundown and never worry about the clock ticking down?
If you are a participant this year – or any year – I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo experience!