To NaNo or Not to NaNo
If you are a writer, you've probably heard of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Every November, writers all over the country -- heck, even the world! band together to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. Yes, you read that right. Fifty thousand.
I'm not going to lie, it's nuts. It's exhausting. Mentally draining. It requires you to spend many hours holed up in your room away from your family for days on end, including Thanksgiving, unless you plan ahead to skip it or catch up afterward.
It's also exhilarating. It forces you to be more productive than you might have been the entire year leading up to it. Words are flowing out of your fingertips. Your inner editor is finally silenced because, let's face it, you simply don't have time to listen if you're going to crank out 1,667 words per day. And that's just if you stay on track, which I highly recommend you do. If you don't, that word count piles up quickly and you may be forced to write your little fingers to the bone to catch up if you want to "win."
Winning simply means to hit that 50K word count, which I have managed to do both of the previous years that I entered. The vast majority of my novel, 90% of it at least, was written during NaNo, with the rest of the year spent on edits and rewrites. I'm a slow writer. And I don't mean slow as in typing, because I'm actually pretty good at that. I'm slow in the fact that I agonize over each line and word choice. I've always got a Thesaurus handy. I want each line to drip with meaning while being as clean and concise as possible. All while evoking a feeling of atmosphere and providing layers of subtlety. Yeah. I'm that kind of writer.
So its no wonder that I don't make much progress on my manuscript. Unless it's NaNoWriMo.
Like I said, there is something about being under that time crunch that shuts up my harping inner editor and frees me up to let the words fly. It takes me roughly two to two-and-a-half hours to write 1,700 words -- my personal goal to stay on track -- and that is a gigantic commitment for me. I work part time, have a YouTube channel with 20K subscribers that I need to maintain, a husband, three teenage boys who expect to eat every day, and oh yeah, wear clean clothes and all that jazz. Did I mention the puppy? So two-and-a-half hours for thirty consecutive days? That's a lot to add to my already overflowing plate.
But it's worth it. I've got a 228 page manuscript printed out and sitting next to me to show for it. And yeah, it took me two NaNos to get it, and I'll be working on it again for the third (and hopefully last) year in a row, plugging plot holes and writing new content for the last half of Act 2 and most of Act 3. But you know what? If I didn't do NaNo, I fully believe I wouldn't be barreling down the final stretch of this novel's journey. Life just always seems to get in the way, and writing time ends up being the first thing to get sacrificed because it's the one thing I can't juggle while doing other things. Writing time has to be quiet, solitary. To me, a story is something to be tucked into the crook of my arm and cooed to like a baby bird so it doesn't fly away. It has to be cherished. Nourished. Protected. I can't write a book while folding laundry or stirring a pot or cheering my kids on from the sidelines of their soccer games. If you can, yay you!
All this to say, if you've never given NaNoWriMo a try, if you've been wanting to get more serious with your writing and you just don't know how to find the time, if, if, if... Why not sign up and give it a try? We can survive anything for thirty days. Even if your family has to eat pizza and ramen and fish sticks all month. Even if they have to wear their jeans four times to school or God forbid! help with the laundry. Sit everyone down and tell them what this means to you. Make the commitment to your writing, to yourself.
You may end up closer to reaching your dream of being a writer than you ever thought possible.
And p.s. If you're doing NaNo, feel free to add me as a buddy! Its a great way to keep each other on track!