This November’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was a first for me. I had known about the challenge for years but always balked at the goal. How could I write 50 000 words in 30 days? Impossible, I scoffed.
But I read the articles, the blog posts, heard the first-hand experiences of NaNoWriMo, and was blown away by those who met the goal. Writers loved this challenge because it forced them to push all the excess to the side (fear of good character, plot development, “writers block”) and simply write. The challenge is not to write 50 000 words but to sit down and do what you love for 30 days straight-damn the distraction.
Those who braved the challenge were inspirational to me, and I have them to thank for giving me the courage to jump into the fray.
November was a hard month. I’m currently in a tough post-graduate program, working part-time, volunteering as a mentor, and collecting submissions for Erebus Press‘ next anthology “After Lines” (click here for details). Why did I choose this year to add 50 000 words to my plate? No idea. Honest. The story just flew from my mind and onto the screen, and once I started I just couldn’t stop.
NaNoWriMo taught me that there is always time to do what you love, that twenty-four hours is enough time for everything if you keep calm and focus. I wrote my 1600 words a day (sometimes more, sometimes less) and hit the 50 000 word mark with hours to spare. What’s strange to me, however, is the gratification of hitting the goal never came. My story was not finished. My characters were left in the middle of their problems, cruelly thrown into conflict and left in limbo after 30 days.
NaNoWriMo created a spark that is slowly turning into a fire. 30 days was not enough to quench my thirst of writing, nor will it ever be. But it was an experience that helped shaped my habits, and that in itself was a satisfying accomplishment.
The true lesson of the month of November? If you have your story, write it.