By guest blogger Carole Jane Treggett
In case you might not know what this annual event is all about, the National Novel Writing Month is an online creative writing initiative which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. There were 256,618 participants worldwide who signed up last year.
That’s a whole lot of people writing simultaneously!
For the past three consecutive autumns, I have managed to convince myself not to join in, despite a strong desire to, feeling swept up in the enthusiasm and anticipatory thrill of the adventure each year around this time. I couldn’t allow myself to make my own creative writing such a priority; it seemed like such a self-indulgent endeavor. I had to be reasonable, responsible! There barely seemed to be enough time to follow through on my other commitments, how on earth would I have managed to fit writing a 50,000 word novel in a month on top of it all? I wouldn’t be consistent in writing every day, I’d be weak and give in to procrastination, be stuck in places in my novel development, not knowing what to write next, etc.
So I decided that it probably wouldn’t be worth the bother, before I even gave it a try.
I’ve changed my mind this year. I’m not going to put off my creative writing dreams any longer.
I only have a sketchy idea for the novel I want to write, so I have a lot of outlining and prep work to do in October before NaNo officially starts. Despite the worry and dealing with my mind going blank when I try and think on some of the specifics about my novel, I’m forging ahead anyway. I’ve already told people I’m doing this. All the helpful writerly guiding stars seem aligned this year.
I’ll be counting on my muse to show up with me each morning and help me out in a major way. That we’ll know where to go and how to go when the need arises.
I won’t lie; I’m quite intimidated. Yes, this is quite the step in faith.
Not blind faith, mind you. I’ll be doing my part in preparing for this odyssey, beyond psyching and motivating myself to commit to actually going through with it. I’ve enrolled in an online course in October that will give me a whole arsenal of practical tools, guidance and instruction on what I need to do beforehand to write my novel.
I have recruited a writing friend as an accountability buddy who is doing NaNo again this year. We’ll be in frequent contact to encourage one another to persevere to the 50,000 word finish line. If you can’t find a writing buddy, there are in-person NaNo writing ‘meet ups’ organized at public libraries and other venues in most major cities, as well as a very active online community forum. Check the main NaNoWriMo website for details of events happening in your neck of the woods. Get out and meet your fellow writing adventurers (or masochists, depending on who you ask *wink*) and get the support you need to make this dream a reality.
I’m also planning on following a very specific regular writing routine and schedule, down to set times I will write each day, and special contingency plans in case I fall behind. By sticking to it, I’m hoping it will save me from the temptation of procrastinating or succumbing to other peoples’ demands on my time, or getting sidetracked for too long by feelings of confusion, fatigue, and overwhelm.
I’ll have my regular routine, tangible helps and supports in place to fall against on challenging days. I’ll just come to the page every day, hopefully no matter what else is happening or comes along to distract me.
It’s good to jump off the cliff into the realm of ‘don’t have a flying clue what will happen.’ Although a wee bit panic-stricken with the not knowing, I long to see if I can accomplish this, what I’ll learn along the way, the thrill and exhilaration of this free fall, so to speak:
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E.L. Doctorow
By being proactive with my preparation in October, I can influence the outcome of this experience somewhat. Cook and freeze meals. Communicate my writing schedule with family and friends and commit to carrying it out to reach my daily word count quota.
I don’t want to listen to the NaNo naysayers, although it doesn’t stop me from being drawn to reading all their blog posts like a moth to a flame. I don’t want to let their rationalizations and some compelling reasons as to why it might be a waste of time get inside my head, shake my resolve to go through with this crazy ride.
I’ve spent three years over-thinking about whether or not to participate. This year, I want to follow this strong creative impulse and dive into it for the joy and agony and all the feelings in between of the writing adventure.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice didn’t hesitate in the slightest as she chased after that distressed white rabbit clutching his pocket watch, muttering how late he was, and then jumping into and falling down the deep hole to experience the creative fantasy of a lifetime. I want to be as intrepid as young Alice. I just want to see what will happen . . . next (and for 30 consecutive days this November!)
As I’ve been starting to prepare all of this, including writing this post, the reassurance and excitement has returned. This is doable and we can allow it to be F-U-N regardless of the inevitable hills and valleys.
The reward for persevering will be the draft of a novel written. No small creative feat, my friend! Something solid you can sink your editing/re-writing teeth into at a more leisurely pace after this is over (grin).
How about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?