NaNoWriMo – Time for a breather!

After today’s writing, I have 17,147 words on Darian’s War, book 2 of my YA series. I’m happy with that – not because I’ll cross 50k at any certain point, but because my personal goal is 3,000 words a day, and I’m averaging 3425. That means I have words “in the bank” for a day off if I need it (I’m flying to Houston this weekend to speak, and I may have loads of time, or I may not; this way I’m fine either way). My goal is to finish the novel, and I’m on track.

I haven’t procrastinated too much in the forums so far. I did a good bit of forum reading before November 1, and might do more after I’m done, but mid-writing I don’t find it too helpful. Here are some things I’ve noticed, for what it’s worth:

People take themselves way too seriously. I am (at least in my own opinion!) a professional writer. I do NaNo events (all the NaNo events) so that I can get a first draft. My intention is to take that draft to publication. Is that draft ready for publication on December 1? Of course not. But I am serious and intentional about my work.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, and that I don’t try to make NaNo fun. I mean, let’s face it – it’s a crazy thing to do, to write 50,000 (or more) words in a month. Regardless of your plans for the work, the process is nuts! It’s absurd, when you get right down to it. And I celebrate that. I don’t take myself so seriously that I can’t enjoy silly posts or crazy rants or even the occasional whacked out haiku. It doesn’t offend my “craft” when people have fun writing, and it shouldn’t offend yours either, no matter how seriously you pursue your goals as a writer the rest of the year.

People give up too easily. On day 1 there were countless threads that it was over, done, finished, irretrievable, irreparable. People were calling it quits right and left, before they’d even begun. Come on, grow some backbone! Believe in yourself a little! Will you write the next great classic, destined to be taught in ivy league classrooms? Not bloody likely. Can you crank out something, even if it’s a rambling stream of consciousness involving your sister, zombies, aliens, a smuggling ring and Bigfoot? Sure! If you thought enough of your skills to sign up, think enough of them to at least try, for more than 24 or 48 hours.

People don’t dig deep enough. I don’t mean a backhoe. I don’t think a lot of people bring a plastic beach shovel. I am not the most disciplined person around. I don’t exercise regularly, diets don’t last more than a couple of days, I hate housework, I have boxes of crap that I don’t want to file. It’s a joke to my kids that people always say, “Oh, I couldn’t homeschool because I’m not organized or patient.” Well, neither am I! Everyone I know will attest to that fact.

But I do know that, for a month, I can set a daily goal and work towards it. There will be days I don’t reach it and days I don’t write at all. There will be days I’d like to scrub the toilet rather than write. Conversely, doing it anyway means that I’ll have days like yesterday, where I had an idea that turned into a small plot point that became a big deal. Where the first 2000 words had felt like pulling teeth, the last 1600 flew off my fingers. If I hadn’t plowed through those first ones, I wouldn’t have gotten to those last ones.

My first boss used to say that the streets were full of people with talent. He didn’t hire people with talent. He hired people with tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness. Tim Tebow basically says the same thing about football: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  Bottom line is, you have to work hard at things. Some things come easy, and some things don’t, but you don’t get far without the work. You all know what I’m talking about… When you’ve worked hard and achieved something, you’re proud, right? In this case, it’s 50,000 words. Who cares if it’s good? It’s a marathon – crossing the finish line is an accomplishment, even if it takes you 8 hours instead of 3, right?

NaNo wasn’t created for the “serious novelist.” Nowhere in anything does it say it’s for the “serious novelist.” So lighten up. Even if you’re a “serious novelist,” does that mean you never have fun? Maybe you should! Throw in some fairies, some zombies, a line of dancing girls. Eat red hots and cackle over your own genius. Have some wine and chill.

It’s supposed to be fun. Really.

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7 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Writing

7 responses to “NaNoWriMo – Time for a breather!

  1. Great advice. And I hope you get to relax when you take your day off. Taking a break is always helpful. Good luck in your writing! Hope to read your novel soon!

    • Thanks! yes, I learned early on I couldn’t do this much writing without a break at least once a week. It makes me tired! haha! (Not as tired as last year – my writing “muscles” are getting bigger!)

  2. Absolutely, Jennings! Have wine (well, a mudslide or hard cider for me) and chill. I might try Nano next go round or the round after that. I’m not into competitions so much, but it might be worth it to sit back and snicker at those taking it too serious. I’m totally kidding…I would never do that. 😉 And things like nano, from what I hear, should be light and fun. Save the seriousness for the actual novel you’ll be drafting over and over again.

    • From it’s founding onward, it’s been lighthearted. The founder, Chris Baty, wrote “No Plot, No Problem” about it, and it’s hilarious. Their pep-talk emails are hilarious. Their videos are hilarious. There’s not much that’s serious about the whole thing. But wow, are there some people with… ok, I couldn’t think of anything not kind of crude to say about their attitudes! haha! Esp in the 50+ forum, where they apparently think they’re above it all. 🙂

  3. I’m having a lot of fun with NaNo. This is my first, and will probably be my only, but I agree with EVERYTHING you’re saying here. I’m averaging over 4000 words a day because the first two days I was SO DANG EXCITED and enjoying SO MUCH getting that outline turned into my work that I just couldn’t stop writing. Great post. Thanks for the reminders!

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