I know that title sounds awfully dramatic, but do a degree it is so true. I have been writing off and on for the last 17 years, but only took it seriously for the last 3. Seriously as in, you know I could actually get published. Last year, I was doing my usual Facebook cruising, reading posts by a few other authors who had ‘friended’ me after finding me on the Romance Writers of America website. There were several mentions of something called NaNo. I had no idea what the Hades they were talking about. I finally sent a private message asking what it was.
Turns out NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month held each November since 1999. I was working on my graduate studies and figured I didn’t have time for it. I read the website, thought it sounded interesting and made a mental note to check it out next year. Saturday, October 30th. 5:30 am. I am in the backseat on my way to Renaissance. I brought a notebook with me just in case I got any brilliant ideas for the capstone project I would be starting in January. Instead, the idea for a novel started and it would not wait until January. October 31st – Halloween. 2:30pm. I sign up for NaNo. Create my password and ask myself Are you seriously going to do this? I nod to myself and I get the LOOK from my husband. You writers know that look. The one that says what are you thinking and how much time will it involve.
8am November 1st. Can NOT get on the NaNo site. It is completely inundated with users trying to log in. Come to find out, some people actually take off work to start writing at midnight and when they’re too tired to see at 8am, they want to log their word count. As predicted, week one was fantastic! Ideas were flowing, writing was going great. About day 6, things went awry. It was sometime in week two I learned I had an internal editor. I named him Fred and he is now abused quite frequently whenever he tries to tell me something isn’t good enough to bother putting on the page.
So how, you ask, did NaNo change my life? The free form, write until your eyes bleed and fingers cramp attitude was enlightening and liberating. I lived off caffeine and chocolate the entire month. By Thanksgiving I was positively giddy and wrote over 7,000 words the morning of Thanksgiving and that night when I got home from my in-laws, finally forcing myself to go to bed at 11. Word count verification started on the 25th and at 10:55 or so I submitted. WINNER!!! I woke up at 3:15 to go Black Friday shopping (yes, I’m one of those) and the only thing I wanted to do was turn on the computer, even though I’d accomplished the initial goal of 50,000 words with 5 days to spare.
Up until my NaNo experience, I worried over every word I wrote. If I didn’t think it was good enough (I now know this was Fred’s fault) I simply wouldn’t type it and I would go months without adding anything to any story, ever. Now I write. I write whatever pops into my mind. No matter how silly or how passive it sounds or how many times I use the word that. I write. I ended up letting my NaNo novel sit for a few months while I finished my graduate studies and went back to it in March. It was eye-opening. It was a damn good story. Possibly the strongest one I’d attempted to that point. It made me feel like a WRITER.
My point is, whether it’s NaNo that pushes you or sitting alone in your writing cubby, just write. You just might surprise yourself.
P.S. I’m so addicted to NaNo, I’m trying to decide if I should participate in Camp NaNoWriMo starting Friday or wait until August 1st. The decision is killing me!