Well, it’s November 25th and you may remember that, all gung-ho, and full of vim and vigour, I announced my participation in the NaNoWriMo project twenty-three days ago.
The premise is simple; glue your butt to your chair for an extended period every day during the month of November and produce 50,000 words at the end. You will then have the bones of a book that you can work on and edit to your heart’s content and try to shape it into an actual book that you can bring to market. Like most things worth their salt, NaNoWriMo has its detractors: Some writers claim that it’s difficult to work like this, ‘churning out’ 2.000 words a day every day on average on one project. Others heave a sigh of relief when November comes around, safe in the knowledge that the support of the project will motivate them to get some words on a page. Still others see it as a month of indulgence to write on a pet project, or try out a new genre – one they have never fiddled with before.
I approached NaNoWriMo with a project I’ve been wanting to work on for quite a while. I was really excited to try my hand at a bit of fiction. I’ve done a bit of plotting, I’ve gotten to know a little bit about some of my characters, I have a few set-ups for them and I have scenes written (in my head only, mind!) that had me crying in the shower as I felt the emotions of the characters involved and put words in their mouths and hearts.
So, I sat down, committed to writing my socks off and producing the required 50,000 at the end of this month.
I have about 7,000 words of my book written. Look, it’s 7,000 words more than I had a few weeks ago, but I’m not going to nail NaNoWriMo this year. I’m not even going to start on the whys and wherefores of why I have so little done. I’m neither ashamed nor embarrassed by my lack of wordage. NaNoWriMo has served me well; I have spend the month thinking about my writing – thinking about what I want to write, what I want to focus on, what really matters. I’ve formulating a good, solid plan not just for the book I’ve written and am ready to market, but about the next one, the one after that and the spin-off work that could come from it if I market it properly. I have looked long and hard at self-publishing rather than going the traditional route and have not decided against either (yet!). I’ve changed focus and looked at the bigger picture, the long-term and asked myself serious questions about where I want my writing to take me and what I want it to do – the purpose of it, if you will.
I’ve also been writing a bit more than usual – and remembering the joy I get from writing, how easy it comes to me if I just let it, how good it feels to structure a sentence that says exactly what I want it to and how the flow of words from brain to fingertips feels as good to me as a run in perfect weather feels to a professional runner: The exhilaration, the triumph, the purification of the exercise that release endorphins and spur you on to do more, to do it again, to keep going.
So, the end of November will come and go, and I will not be a NaNoWriMo winner. Except, in a roundabout way, I will. I’ll have a course plotted, a strategy devised and a much clearer picture of who I am as a writer. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win.