1) If you don’t toot your own horn, you shouldn’t expect anyone to do it for you.
2) I won’t have to do my forfeit and contribute to jerkwad politician’s re-election campaign. See my previous NaNoWriMo blog post. But the most important reason is...
3) “Winning” NaNoWriMo and writing 50,000 words in 30 days (26 days in my case) left me with a decent rough draft for a novel and has spurred me on.
I have to keep writing now. After years of editing and publishing other people’s work, I neglected my own writing and told myself I didn’t have time to do it all. It was making me bitter and frustrated.
Well, I do have time to do it all, but I must admit that I will be treating my own writing goals with the same priority as the authors I work with...if not a smidge more. I have a few things to tie up now, but next week, I shall be resuming my NaNo schedule to thrash out my story ideas. If all goes well, I might have a new title ready to publish by the spring. Considering the last story I published under my own name was four years ago (time flies!), it’s an achievement. Which brings me to my next point.
If nothing else, NaNo taught me that I don’t have to spend years “writing” my next novel, which, let’s face it, by taking all that time just allows us to fool ourselves with the illusion of “working” on our next novel. “I’m still doing research,” “I’m still developing my characters,” “I’m still outlining my plot.”
Yeah, well, you’re still a day older than you were yesterday and still have nothing to show for it. Hate to be harsh, but it is what it is. Just sit your butt down and get a rough draft done. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not supposed to be perfect! That’s what editing and revision is for—not drafting.
I had a friend when I was at college, and we were both in the same creative writing program. I remember how we would meet and write and critique each other’s work. More often than not, I would share new material whereas she kept presenting the same material and talked about the same story. One of her favourite authors was Don DeLillo, and she was a perfectionist. Basically, she wanted to write the perfect epic and kept writing, editing, and revising the same handful of pages again and again.
By the time we had graduated, I had entered a short story into a regional competition at the urging of my professor—and won—and interned with a literary agent. She was still working on her first chapter. That was more than a decade ago, and we lost touch shortly after graduation. I hope she finally finished writing that chapter, let alone a first draft.
NaNoWriMo is a test of time management as well as creativity. I must admit that being able to work from home helped a lot, but even so, I found myself falling behind more than once and having to write ahead because I knew there would be times when I simply would not have time to write that day.
Having a daily writing goal wasn’t what kept me going, not really, it was the way that participating forced me to think about my story and characters and kept it going in my head. The helpful tips in NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing ... was perhaps the best motivation I got in addition to the pep talks that official NaNo’s get during the course of the month. I really, truly recommend that anyone who participates in a future NaNo, or if you just need motivation to help you out of a slump, read this book.
I may get a 2013 NaNoWriMo Winner T-shirt, but I’m thinking of getting the Camp NaNoWriMo shirts instead simply because they’re cute, and damn it, I've earned it.
If only I could show the same amount of dedication to a work-out regimen... I could be a lot healthier, but I wouldn’t be happier if it meant not being able to write. But I’m willing to compromise and get in some kind of exercise...but don’t expect me to run any marathons. I’ll stick to the writing marathons, thank you.
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