Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Accidental NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo - the one acronym that can reduce me to a shivering bundle of nerves and self-deprecation. And why should a month dedicated to the thing I do every day anyway evoke such rabid fear and loathing? Because I really really want to win this thing just once to prove myself that I can, in fact, pump out 50, 000 words in one month. The reality is that I've tried many times before and have never managed to succeed.

My excuses have been many:

1) Insufficiently inspired (the Muse's fault)

2) Insufficiently prepared (my own fault)

3) Too busy (work's fault)

4) Not my style (the excuse I trot out when I want to feel better about failing at the challenge)

5) I can write 50k any other month of the year, November is just a bad month (it is because I work at a school and November gets incredibly busy, but it's still a lame excuse)

And so the list of excuses continues...

The truth is that writing 50k words in 30 days is entirely possible, especially when I plan well, have a decently detailed outline and am totally in the zone of the piece I'm working on. Heck, I've written more than 50k words in one month on works already in progress. My problem is diving into something new with enough gusto to get all that wordage down in 30 days. Point number 4 from above is partly true: writing the way you need to to win NaNo isn't really my style because it takes me a while to ease into a new work and I often end up rewriting and editing as I go - definitely not a good thing if the main goal is building a word count.

This year I was adamant I wouldn't be taking part in NaNoWriMo, but then I started seeing all the tweets and posts about it and I just couldn't resist the challenge. I had a sort of outline for a brand new work and decided to take the plunge. The first 5k flew by and then I stalled. Writing out of my comfort zone with a half-formed outline for NaNo was mistake number one, and secondly, this is a story I want to get right and rushing it for the sake of wordage felt wrong and left me feeling demotivated. Once again I was going to fail at this challenge.

I accidentally stumbled upon a short story meant for an anthology that never happened. I liked the story, loved the characters and had aspirations of expanding the short to be a longer short story of say 15k. I started working on it and the Muse kicked into gear and the words were flowing and suddenly I knew I had a project I could actually make work for NaNoWriMo *sound the trumpets* Despite starting almost a week late with this project, my word count today is at almost 23k, only a little behind where it should be according to NaNo site statistics *toss the confetti* Up until Friday when life threw my a different kind of curveball (which I can't talk about just yet) that will not doubt end up curbing my daily word count, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of winning NaNo this year. While I doubt I'll now be able to hit 50k this month, that's okay because this WIP is taking shape and exceeding all my expectations. Regardless of whether or not I can hit 50k by November 30, the fact that I've got a story I'm excited about turning into a novel feels like a win to me.

Wishing all those participating in NaNo this year the best of luck, but remember - the true goal isn't writing 50k words, it's writing and enjoying that process. I'm no longer going to let November and the unattainable 50k words stress me out because it takes the fun out of writing and what's the point of that?

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