November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, or amongst friends...NaNo. It’s a worldwide challenge for writers to complete a novel, minimum of 50,000 words, in thirty days. And it is quite a challenge, boils down to writing an average of 1600 words a day.
What I like is the sense of community that it creates for writers. Last year a group of us met before the start date to discuss plots and characters, and then met again for group write-ins at the library. Since writing is usually a solitary activity, NaNo provides like minded individuals an opportunity to meet, on their web site, by offering forums to chat, get feedback, or find help.
I have always been a bit of a math nerd, what can I say, I love numbers. Every day the writers are to enter their word count for the day, and miraculously, on their personal page, they are shown a graph of their progress, total word count, and the average number of words they need to write everyday to complete the objective of 50,000 words. If one writes in fits and starts, that number can be daunting.
I’m proud to say that I completed the NaNoWriMo Challenge in both 2012, and in 2013. Both of those books have been published with Amazon for Kindle E-readers.
This year I had my new story idea, had pages of notes and research, but did not finish my book in progress before November 1st. I found myself in the same predicament as last year, and that time I shelved the incomplete work in favor of the new story. Metaphorically speaking, I shoved the unfinished manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it.
Just like with sewing or knitting, I hate going back to a project I’ve set aside. It’s hard to gather the same kind of enthusiasm. And with writing, you can get out of the feel, the mindset of your characters so you lose your edge. That unfinished book is still unfinished.
The one thing I truly hate about NaNo is the timing. You start November 1st, end 30 days later, often ignoring much of what’s happening in the world outside your novel. Things like Christmas.
The first year I woke up from my NaNo experience and was shocked to find I had little more than three weeks to prepare for the holiday. Talk about pressure.
The next year I did much of my shopping before November, determined not to be caught unprepared again. Who was I kidding? I’m a grandmother, my shopping is never done. There is always that ‘one more thing’ that would be just perfect...for someone on my list.
This year, for several reasons, I decided to opt out of the challenge. I want to finish the current book before starting another, and when it’s done I’ll have a good portion of the prep work done for the next. I have most of my Christmas gifts wrapped and ready, an ongoing source of curiosity for the grandchildren as they poke, squeeze and shake the presents in anticipation.
I find I’m looking forward to the holiday, feeling less stress about getting everything done. And, as a point of pride, I hate leaving work unfinished, whether it’s a novel, a painting or a crocheted afghan. At my age, and with my health situation, I need positives in my life. It’s amazing the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can get projects finished and out of the way.
For now, I’m going to plod on in my own fashion, with no looming deadline. But, to all those Na No writers, nineteen days in, more power to you, keep up the good work.