It’s November 1st! Are you doing NaNoWriMo?
I’m still not sure. I’m writing this October 31st (last night) at 6:43, so I still have 5 hours and 17 minutes to make up my mind. I fist-bumped Elizabeth Boyle this weekend that I’d do NaNo with her, which I think may possibly be as binding as a blood oath, so it’s likely that I’ll do it for fear I may, like, lose my soul to some otherworldly being or something if I back out.
If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, this stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and consists of
sacrificing your entire life for a month to the writing gods committing to writing 50,000 words on a new novel in a month. Sounds scary, huh? It is.
Well, it seemed like it would be that first year I did it anyway. That was two years ago, and the idea of carving out time to write 1667 words a day for 30 straight days (even with Sundays and Thanksgiving off) seemed horribly daunting. But I decided to give it a shot. There were days I seriously questioned my sanity.
But I met my goal. I wrote 50,000 words. They weren’t all good words. In fact some of them were downright awful. But I learned a HUGE lesson that month:
I DO HAVE TIME.
No matter how often I bemoan how little time I have to write, no matter how many times I repeat the excuse to anyone who challenges me to get cracking on whatever I’m writing and stop trying to justify my procrastination…I DO have time.
I bet you do, too.
It’s not easy. I’m not trying to tell you it is. And I would never want to keep up the frenetic pace of NaNo beyond a month, or maybe two months (spaced very far apart), a year. At least not while working a full-time job and taking care of a family. If I wrote full time, I think 50,000 words a month could be achieved more often.
Succeeding at NaNo is a sacrifice. I gave up some television (made possible through the miracle of TiVo). My appalling housekeeping practices went even further downhill. I may have skipped the occasional shower and the odd hour or three of beauty sleep.
But I wrote 50,000-freaking words. In a month. No matter how you look at that, that’s awesome. Even if I’d only written 35,000, or 25,000, thus not “winning” by NaNo rules, it would have been a success, as it would have been 35,000 or 25,000 more than I’d had before November.
I’m not typically a rule-breaker…except when I am. The first year I did NaNo, I did it strictly by the book. I signed up, declaring my intentions publicly. I wrote 50,000 words on a new book (new being the critical part). I submitted the pages for verification before midnight on November 30, and got my badge to prove I had “won.”
Last year, I wasn’t even planning on doing NaNo. I didn’t have a new book to write. I’d broken up with my agent, so was feeling depressed. But then I had an idea. I’d cheat. I would do NaNo, but write 50,000 words worth of blog posts for my soon-to-be website, The Happy Writer, instead of work on a new book. I didn’t officially sign up (since I was cheating), so I never had my success verified by NaNoWriMo officials. But still. I damn did it.
Did it matter that I didn’t follow the official rules? Maybe. But not to me. To me it only mattered that I dedicated November to my writing, to stretching myself outside of my usual boundaries. I pushed myself.
We should all push ourselves sometimes. It’s good for the soul and the self-confidence.
This month if I do NaNo, which I’m pretty sure I will, since I’d kinda like to keep my soul, plus Elizabeth Boyle scares me just a little bit, I’ll be writing 50,000 words. Some may be blog posts (since I have been slacking off while writing 2 workshops and a magazine article). Some may be on my current book project (which I’ve been slacking off on while writing 2 workshops and a magazine article). Some may be for my ShannonMcKelden blog (which may be so neglected that aliens have taken it over).
But I think I’ve got 50,000 words in there somewhere. I may just have to stretch a bit to find them.
So, how about it? Are you NaNo’ing? If you are, I’ll make sure to post some encouragement throughout the month.