The Most Frenzied Time of the Year

Ah yes. November. Thoughts turn to Christmas shopping, and a good number of us Americans start thinking about Thanksgiving. Yet if you stand close to a writer there’s a fair chance you’ll see furrowed brows and a distracted look. Not to mention that undeniably distinctive smell of adrenaline and anxious longing. Clearly they aren’t thinking about presents and turkey. But you can’t blame us for that. After all, it’s November.

It’s time for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

NaNo-2018-Writer-Facebook-Cover

But For those of you not familiar with it, the idea is to write 50,000 words in thirty days–the standard size of most novels. If you win, you’ll come out with a draft of a novel and serious bragging rights. By the time you read this, we’ll already be five days in. Ideally by the end of today, we writers will have at least 8,337 words under our belt. Some of us (like me) will be behind, some of us will be on target, and some of us will be miles ahead. But we’ll all be having fun doing what we love. Writing.

Some people swear by NaNoWriMo, and others decry it saying you can’t get anything beyond trash if you try to write a novel in a month. Of course, both sides claim the other is spouting rubbish.

Then there’s me, firmly in the middle.

When I first ventured into the depths of NaNoWriMo in 2009, I won. What I came out with was…rubbish. To be fair, I was young, I had little to no experience with novel writing, and yes, I was quite idealistic. That idealism worked wonders for me while writing, but I was under the impression that I could bang out a draft and it would be set to go to the presses. Like I said, I was young.

I put my novel aside when November was over and pulled it out a few months later.

I was mortified. Oh, the idea was good. But any reader will tell you plot alone won’t save a story. My characters and dialogue had me baffled in places. It was too hard to tell who was who if I didn’t constantly name them, simply because I didn’t flesh out the characters enough. To be so confused by one’s own writing is quite embarrassing.

And yet, I still have that draft. Off and on for the past nine years, I’ve been doing the world building, the character sheets, and creating a full on outline for the book and the series it will be a part of.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo nearly every year after that, although I’ve only ever won one other time. But I’ve never considered those times a loss. I’ve come to find that no matter how awful the writing is, you still come away with something. Each time I’ve learned more about writing, myself, and my local writing community.

But the goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to get to 50,000 words or to even come out with a workable draft at the end of it all. The goal is to enjoy writing. To take the time as often as you can to write. To push yourself and your story forward. There’s no shame in not “winning.” You tried. You decided to take a chance. And heaven knows, there’s no shame in saying that this year there’s no way you can hold on to your  mental and physical health and write that much. The goal is to have fun, to write, and to take care of yourself in the process.

I personally think that anyone interested in writing and those who want to make it part of their lives (whether publishing their writing or work in the publishing industry) should give it a go. After all, the greatest adventure is to take a chance on yourself.

 

 

2 Replies to “The Most Frenzied Time of the Year”

    1. Honestly, if you can look at your own writing and see the flaws in it, that’s fantastic! It shows that you’re in it for the long haul, and it also shows that you know good writing when you see it. Yes, it hurts a bit because that nasty little voice says “I should know better.” But you just wrote a draft of a full on novel. That’s a brilliant achievement! Most of all, in retrospect, it makes for a good story. “Hey, remember when I wrote that draft of such and such?” It can become a thing you can laugh about and take deep pride in. It’s fun to see how much the story has changed and grown from that first draft.

      All that is to say, don’t fear the edits! The editing can be just as fun as the writing itself. Like you said, it’s an accomplishment when you’ve reached the editing stage. Take pride in it and enjoy it.

      I saw you’re already at 14k words in your NaNo Novel, congratulations! I’m always delighted when I see people taking the plunge into NaNoWriMo for the first time, and you’re already a head of the game. I’m quite behind myself (ah, life, why do you delight in vexing me?). I hope the writing goes well and that you continue to enjoy it. Welcome to the screwball adventure that is NaNoWriMo!

      Thanks so much for your comment
      ~A. E. Moseley

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