For several years now, I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. (See official site for all the details, and support, and to experience the awesome community surrounding this event.) The short and sweet explanation of NaNoWriMo is that it is a personal challenge for those who call themselves (or would like to call themselves) writers, especially those who can’t seem to find time to write that novel they’ve been meaning to get around to all these years. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel (novella, really, but that’s nit-picking) in 30 days; specifically, between November 1st and November 30th. There are other “rules” to the challenge, but I won’t go into them here. What you win is self-satisfaction, and if you really want one, a keen button to put on your blog or home page declaring you a winner. If you happen to be awesome, you can contribute to the charity that NaNoWriMo’s organizers have chosen for the year, usually one involving libraries, getting basic computers for kids who don’t have access to that sort of technology, etc. (And, of course, there’s always the swag you can buy.)
There have been a few times that November has rolled around and I have found myself…shall we say…unable to participate, for very good reasons. I do believe I have made efforts to try each time, but the last time I was pregnant I was also working full-time and planning my wedding, and quietly freaking out about being pregnant in the first place, so let’s just say that I really didn’t have the mental, emotional or physical energy to do something like write 50,000 words of anything (other that “D’oh!”) in 30 days. I figured that this year would be one of those years, since I’m scheduled to deliver a freakin’ human being in the middle of November, and goodness knows that I won’t have a moment to myself for at least two or three months once that happens.
However, I’ve decided to give it the ol’ college try anyway. Obviously I’ll have to make some changes to the rules, because I don’t really want to be lying on the operating table wondering if I’ll have time to crank out those last 5,000 words while under the influence of whatever narcotic I’ll get while in the hospital. (Mmm, Dilaudin. You make me love EVERYBODY.)
Instead, I’ve decided to push the schedule up. I’m starting today, October 15th, and ending (officially) November 15th. Naturally, since I’m breaking one rule, I figured I’d go ahead and maybe bend a few others while I’m at it. Instead of starting something new, my goal will be to finish something I’ve already started. I’m really, really good at starting things; the finishing is what I need to work on, and it’s what’s holding me back from actually submitting anything for publication. (Well. One of the things.) Also, since my goal is to finish something, I may not make the 50,000-word mark. I’ll go until the story is done and I have a rough draft, and then I will edit it. I’ll keep myself to the daily word count goals, just to keep myself accountable and give myself an idea of how I’m doing, progress-wise, but when it’s done, it’s done. And finally, I will be using some pre-written scenes, which is a no-no. I won’t count them toward my daily goals (or total word count), but they’ll be in there.
It might seem like I’m making it easier, but I suspect that this will be the hardest NaNo I’ve attempted thus far. Starting something new is easy and fun, and even when it becomes difficult it’s still exciting. Finishing something you’ve already (more or less) worked out is something I have come to realize is rather…well, drudgery, for me. It’s work (perish the thought of my chosen career actually having work in it).
I do have a prize to win, however. Not only will I have the satisfaction of a finished draft, and the ability to show it to someone for editing/critiquing (if I think about that too much right now, I will hyperventilate in a panic, so let’s just keeeeeeeep a’ movin’), but Mr. Cranky-Faced Knitter made me a deal. If I don’t finish a book by the time the baby gets here, then he will cancel our cable (not the internets, thank goodness) as he has been wanting to do for some time now. I spend far too much time in front of the TV, and so does the Podling. Mr. Cranky-Faced Knitter is of the opinion that we would be far better off without it, and we would save another chunk of money for other things, like electricity or the car payment.
So. I now have negative consequences to avoid if I don’t produce the thing that I want to produce anyway, not just a lack of positive consequences. We will see what happens, won’t we? So far, my response to this “threat” to my beloved boob tube has been to knit and spin frantically, to nap as much as I can, and to actually do housework. Interestingly enough, my gut response has not been to write. At all. Head, meet sand. Time to stop that. Time to put on my big girl pants and stop avoiding my own personal fulfillment.
Time to write.
P.S. I will very likely be posting my daily word counts on here, and posting more than I have since I started this blog. Blog-writing is a great way to procrastinate but not FEEL like I’m procrastinating, as evidenced by the fact that, instead of writing on my story, I wrote a blog post. I am nothing if not predictable.