It’s November, again. And that means I have 30 days to get to 50K words. Granted that’s now every month for me, in one form or another, and for at least one month this year, I hit nearly half that on this blog. So that shouldn’t be too hard, right?
What is National Novel Writing Month?
NaNoWriMo, as it’s known to those of us mad enough to attempt it, is the month of intellectual torture many ameteur and hobby writers inflict on themselves in hopes of having something resembling a finished novel by the end of November. Many professional writers also participate, but for pros, often 50,000 words in the course of a month is just par for the course.
NaNoWriMo just happens to be an adrenaline shot in the heart around the holidays when that elusive muse called motivation is flagging because for all the mining you’ve done the only thing you’ve turned up lately is dirt, and now you’re really hoping for a bit of that yellow or silver shine.
It’s refreshing, so many people with a love of the craft, those with the experience backed by years of industry struggle, and those new to the craft with all the passion and excitement that brings!
It’s also basically a month of self-induced mental torment, especially when you’ve got an editor in the back of your mind who constantly wants to go back and fix that not-so-perfect metaphor, description, paragraph, section, chapter, and infinity.
So, how do I feel about NaNo?
NaNoWriMo: My Love/Hate Relationship
My greatest triumph.
And my greatest raw failure to date.
I know, I know, it sounds fatalistic, but I’ve been attempting this madness for a few years now, and each time, I get a few thousand words in, and I trickle out of the race. I’m too busy looking at other people’s word counts, wondering why I can’t measure up, keep up, be them. Not. this. year. Because last year, I sat down between November 22 and November 30 and nearly killed my writing career for good by slamming out 45,000 words of rough draft.
Maybe because I couldn’t look at my writing again for three weeks without wondering if I was going to break down in sobs. Maybe it was the fact that I had my heart set on winning – FINALLY – that year, and I came up short at a measly 48K words, thanks to the 3K at the beginning of the month.
I wallowed in feeling like a failure because I didn’t get the trophy for several days. And then someone – my darling husband – reminded me that one of those eight days I was so desperate to finish, I’d written 10,000 words. In one day.
All because I wanted to get to some arbitrary number of words at the end of an arbitrary number of days.
The Miner’s Analogy
Yesterday, I talked about how often I’ve seen writing a novel compared to climbing a mountain. Nowhere has this been more true than in the context of NaNoWriMo. They constantly talk about the mountain that is the word count goal. Except that the biggest goal I see is getting one’s gluteal muscles in the chair every day, and mining the word ore that adds up to 50K. And then doing it all over again. That’s how writers make a living after all. We don’t buy our daily fare on just one book.
Thing is, everyone always told me NaNo could be a great tool to help build consistency, but no one ever really told me how, because everyone was so focused on the win.
The big finish.
So this month, I won’t say I don’t care about winning. I want the bragging rights. Especially with three other projects in the fire at the same time. But I’m more worried about teaching myself to get down into that mine every day and keep swinging that axe that is my pen.
I’ll still be blogging, and in the meantime, see you all on the other side of November!