If you’re following this blog, you probably have some sort of vested interest in what happens in books or the writing community, which means you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo.
Side note: if you’ve accidentally stumbled across this blog and know nothing at all about reading or writing, please take a moment to check out my website (https://tamilund.com/) for lots of cool books to read. And, for your information, NaNoWriMo is a mouthful of a not-real word that represents National Novel Writing Month. Every year in November, authors across the world commit to writing a 50,000 word first draft novel between November 1 and November 30.
It’s a cool concept. It works for a lot of people. It’s motivating. Gives many authors the impression of a deadline. There are also a lot of support groups and encouragement from other authors. You can do it, authors, all of you!
Yes, I can write a 50k word first draft in a month. I’ve written 20k words in a weekend before. And given that it’s the time of year when I should be planning for 2020, should be determining how many books I want to publish next year, should be booking time on my editor’s calendar; forcing myself to write an entire novel during the month of November actually seems like a brilliant idea.
But I don’t.
It’s the pressure that gets to me. Unlike (most) other authors who thrive on the self-inflicted deadline and the competition with others (“I wrote 635 words today!”), my muse likes to pack up and head out of town during such situations.
First of all, I do the bulk of my writing on the weekends. This is because I have a day job and a long commute to and from said bill-paying responsibilities. And when I get home each evening, I’m first, already mentally drained, and second, still have responsibilities to see to that have nothing to do with writing. Walking the dog, making dinner, doing a load of laundry, folding the clothes that have been sitting in the basket in the living room for the past week and a half.
To top it off, this week, the first full week of November, is the worst of all when it comes to getting things done after the day job. That’s because Daylight Savings Time kicked in over the weekend. No, wait, DST ended over the weekend. (I can never get it straight.) Which means it’s getting dark by five o’clock here in the Upper Midwest. Which means my exhausted brain wants to go to bed at approximately seven p.m.
Even walking the dog becomes a chore that I have to talk myself into each day. I hate walking the dog in the dark and the cold and beginning this week, both are available in heavy-handed portions.
So, using basic math, if I were to do NaNoWriMo, I’d be roughly 11,666 words behind by the time the first week of November ends. Which means I’d need to write just shy of 24k words next weekend in order to catch up and, in my head, be on track again (knowing I won’t get any words down during the next week, either).
And inevitably, on that particular weekend, there will be something non-writing related going on in my life, and I’d lose precious putting-words-on-paper time. So I’d end up behind going into the second week, and you see where this is going, right?
Failure. I’d feel like I failed at writing. An event that’s supposed to be a writer’s cheerleader, that’s supposed to help us feel better about ourselves, only serves to present me with the opportunity to beat myself down, and nobody needs that kind of self-inflicted doubt.
So I don’t do it. But yes, I do still write. And who knows? Maybe I’ll finish the first draft of my latest writing project anyway. Or maybe I won’t.
It’s okay, either way. Because I know, eventually, you’ll still get a new book to read. Probably in the next few months.