Today is November Seventh, Two Thousand, and Nineteen. I am writing my blog to tell you specifically, right now, here and now, as I write, that it is November. November, as it turns out is the National Novel Writing Month, or known colloquially (which means in common terms) as NaNoWriMo. During this month, participants attempt to write enough words to create first drafts of a novel; specifically with the goal of fifty thousand words across the thirty days of November.
Which if you are asking yourself why I seem to be throwing a bunch of garbage words intentionally with the unintentional garbage words … I’m counting these as part of my fifty thousand.
All honesty, some of you who might be long term Bear Feeders may remember that this isn’t the first time I have posted about this event. NaNoWriMo has been a bit of crazy I’ve been attempting going back six years. Like I mentioned, the concept is simple – try to support the creative process by encouraging participants to crank out as many words as possible. For most writers, especially those new or wanna-be writers, the hardest thing is to get started with words on paper. NaNoWriMo becomes that vehicle to make it happen. The process encourages volume over quality – some call it “word vomit”. The program comes with methods and tools to encourage creativity and bonding with others in the process to help work towards the shared word goal.
That being said, the goal of NaNoWriMo is not easy. If you break it down, 50,000 words over 30 days mean you need to write 1667 words a day. When this blog post is over it will be about eight to nine hundred words and while easy for me to write will take about forty-five minutes to complete. That means that I have to find about a half-hour to an hour to put down enough words to reach that 1667 a day goal. Then once the clock strikes midnight, I do it again tomorrow. Then average that for 30 days. Thirty days that always includes three weeks of work, travel for work, band judging, and Thanksgiving holidays. It’s not easy, in fact, it’s downright insanity.
That’s not to say I haven’t been successful. In fact, I’ve reached 50,000 the last 4 years in a row. There were obstacles along the way in all of those too. Like once I quit my job and put my house up for sale during NaNoWriMo. Once I had one of the biggest professional chew-outs of my career while living out of a hotel room. Heck, one year I had surgery during NaNoWriMo and still met the final goal. Making it always required focus, diligence, and routine.
When I get asked why I do it, I tend to answer “it’s an excuse to drink too much coffee in the morning, and too much whiskey at night”. More serious questions are if I am actually writing a novel. The truth of that is yes and no. Every year I do NaNoWriMo, I am trying to write a novel, but it’s not like my intent is to output a novel I want to publish let alone share with anyone. For starters, remember that this process is about a first draft – and a first draft is horrific. You turn off spell checkers, grammar checkers, and any logic in your head. To take that and turn it into something publishable means you have to grind it through your own editing, critiquing by peers, professional editors, and then rejection after rejection after rejection. I am not saying I may be interested going down that path, but right now what is fun for me is creating these stories – so anything else is something I can wait on.
The problem for me, and the problem specifically this year is things have changed in my life. As some of you know, I had a bit of a health scare this summer. With that, my doctor has set me up with a new cocktail of prescriptions; some of which have affected my ability to write. I mentioned before, NaNo is about focus and diligence, and both of those were most affected. Many times I find myself staring at a blank screen with just a few lines typed and the ideas still locked away in my brain. I love the creative process in NaNo, but fear I am losing the ability to make that come out. Heck — while I was writing this paragraph I got distracted by someone sending me notes about CubeSats (thank you, Jeremy Phillips). So my goal with NaNo this year is trying to find that spark again.
To do that, I am making everything count. Not just the novel I was working on, but this blog, side stories, or whatever comes my way. In fact, the other night I was driving my car, got an idea on a different novel, and essentially pulled up a chair to crank out a 1200 word treatment to get the voice of the main character. Now I cam considering throwing out my current novel and starting this one from scratch even though I am six days into NaNo. I am trying to write every day, but that will be dang near impossible (especially this Saturday, when I have a seventeen hour day of band judging). Also, while I have always gone home for Thanksgiving, I usually came back with a few NaNoWriMo days to spare to finish up – but my flight home is on the 30th this year, so the battle there is real. In the end, my goal is to write every day, find the spark, find what I love about writing, and let the rest of it come.
In the meantime, this counts. All Nine hundred and sixty-three words, or sixty-five, … now sixty-seven. Whoops, I did an edit, it dropped to sixty-six.
Okay. that’s it.
Nine eight three.
One thought on “This Counts”
Mitch, you are truly amazing!