NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November, during which hundreds of thousands of writers undertake to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have a fondness for NaNoWriMo because I wrote my debut novel, SOMETHING NEW, during the 2010 competition, and it later went on to be published by Berkley Trade–a division of Penguin USA.
This has been a particularly tough year for me, as my mom passed away in May. My writing has suffered, a fact that would make my mom very upset with me. So I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this month, not just to get me back on track, but to offer me an escape from my grief and the many pressures I’ve fallen under from settling my mother’s affairs.
Perhaps some of you reading this are participating in NaNoWriMo. If so, I would like to offer you some of my reflections about this month:
1) You are not alone. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people just like you parked in front of a computer screen wringing words out of their brains to meet their daily word count.
2) You are not crazy. Yes, 50,000 words in 30 days is insane. But doable. 100,000 words is doable if you don’t eat or sleep or go to the bathroom. Just saying.
3) Your kids will not starve. For moms like me who tend to do everything for their kids, like choose their clothes and brush their hair and stand over them whilst they do their homework, let this month be for you a chance to foster your children’s independence. And, really, if they’re hungry enough, your kids can find food all on their own.
4) There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is boredom and there is brain fry and there is ambivalence and paralysis. But you can always get the words out. They may not be brilliant, but you can always go back and make them brilliant later. If you’re stuck, write through it. Push yourself through to the next scene and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll get your groove back.
5) Stop reading this blog, or any other blog post, update, pin, or tweet and get back to your novel. It’s waiting for you.
I am 17,000 words in. And although I don’t think this novel will win any prizes, I’m proud of the fact that I am back to writing every day, and even prouder to call myself a writer. We’re a kooky bunch. We have the dialogue of made-up people swirling around in our heads, we journey to faraway places and alien worlds without ever stepping outside, we work hard to inject conflict into our lives, at least on paper. But we also get to create on a daily basis, and that’s pretty great.
To all my fellow NaNoWriMos, I won’t wish you luck. You don’t need it. I wish you the gift of more and more words!