This post will serve as something of a writing update, since I may not engage in them on more than a monthly basis for a while. But NaNoWriMo holds a special place in my heart, and I wanted to talk about it before I plunge headlong into it in a few hours.
I’m happy that I managed to finish off my October project and write a two-sentence horror story for every day of the month. I’ve been pleased and humbled to watch my views, visits, and likes increase as I put out content on a daily, consistent basis. If you’re ever in the mood for a month’s worth of tiny bites of creepy content, I’m proud to stand by this collection as a flawed, fun set of unsettling goodness.
I’ve mostly managed to keep the 500 words per day writing goal intact, though I will admit there have been a few days where that simply hasn’t happened. With November upon me, I should have no problem (I’d better not, at any rate) keeping this goal met. I also intend to keep writing for other sites as well, so while there may not be as many posts from me on this blog this month, there should be plenty of content on my Facebook page for anyone who cares to follow along.
Now, on to NaNoWriMo.
I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month three times in the last few years. I’ve succeeded at it once, and I say this with no shame whatsoever. Even when I’ve failed, I’ve at least tried to write a novel, and I’ve managed to create content whenever I otherwise might not have done so. It’s a worthwhile, noble endeavor to undertake, and when you hit that 50,000 word threshold, it feels like you’ve won a mighty victory. You have written a novel’s worth of words, after all.
In the past few days, I’ve seen a number of friends in my online social circles talking about NaNoWriMo, often with trepidation and apprehension. Some have been downright pessimistic, saying something along the lines of, “I might try this, but I really just think I’ll flake/putter out/fail in some other fashion.” I’d like to address this phenomenon directly.
It’s fine to feel apprehensive about trying to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. Doing so is a gargantuan task, and the fact that you’re pouring all that focus, energy, and concentration on one large work or project is intimidating as hell. But one of the worst things you can do is set yourself up to fail.
Say this with me: self-deprecation is not okay for NaNoWriMo.
The year that I succeeded in doing so, it took every bit of will, discipline, and determination I had. I gave up video games that month, foregoing my X-Box so I could get my 1700 words per day written. I was less available for friends, socializing, and often even family (except Thanksgiving. I’m not completely dense). Even in the home stretch, I wondered how I could possibly complete this task before my mental fortitude gave out.
I did not–could not–allow myself to contemplate the possibility of failure, even for humorous purposes. Whenever that particular demon reared its head, I bore down and kept writing. Even if it sucked. Even if it was just to put words to paper and increase my word count. I would see how other writers were doing. I would look for support. And I always got it. And I kept writing.
And eventually I climbed the 50,000 word mountain.
I’m not exactly thrilled with my victory novel from that year. My novel from that year may have hit 50,000 words, but its story wasn’t finished. It was glaringly weak in places. And, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, it hasn’t receive much work since then. But dammit, I proved I could get that amount of words written. I could write a novel’s worth of words. And as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, “That ain’t nothing.” And I intend to build upon that.
My biggest piece of advice for NaNoWriMo participants is to do the opposite of what I’ve recently seen. Tell yourself you can do this, just for one month. Join a write-in and get to know other participants. Seek support from other writers. Don’t allow any of your doubts to get a foothold this month. Banish them. I know how devastating they can be, and how easy and soothing they can make the temptation to quit, or even slack for a day or six.
Push through. Write all month. It’s just for this month.
I will do it this year. And so can you.