It feels kind of weird to make a point of telling just about everyone in my life that I need to drop everything and just focus on NaNoWriMo (unless I'm pausing to blog about my difficulties with NaNoWriMo, of course.) That said, I'm glad I've been doing that because it is so nice to give myself permission to just clear my brain space for writing as much as I possibly can this month. I would like to reach the 50,000 word goal, but at the moment, that seems impossible. I haven't even hit 25,000 yet. I do have good reasons for where I am now though, and I still have reasons to be hopeful that the project is still far from doomed. I thought some of this might be worth sharing if you're running out of gas like me.
The Ultimate Goal
One thing I don't really like about NaNoWriMo is the goal is chosen for us: 50,000 words on a new work. Admittedly, I chose to take this as an opportunity to finish a draft I started in August during Camp NaNoWriMo. So, yes, I began this effort as a bit of a deviant. Can anyone blame me though? I had to stay true to my nature.
Thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo, I only needed 20,000 more words on the draft to hit the NaNo goal if I added the two drafts together.
My preference was to write more this month. Why? Cutting material I don't need is a faster process than writing new material to fill in gaps. At this point, since I need words, I could start just rereading a few sections, identifying gaps and filling stuff in until December. That just doesn't feel like a NaNo way to write.
Why I Believe in Writing the NaNo Way
First drafts are exciting and painful. It's the first rodeo with a story and it needs to get down in some form so, as a writer, I can manipulate it and make it into something that another person might want to read. Stories are a lot like Athena in Zues's head. They prod at us from the inside with their speers until we release them onto the pages. Unfortunately, even though stories torture us when they've been pent up for too long, they're not very good at coming out in one nice graceful chunk. They come out in bits, and sometimes, a lot of other goo is attached; emotional baggage comes along, false leads, characters that seem intriguing but don't end up going anywhere, etc. The first draft is the only way to get that story all the way out so it can be raised to be its full self. While no method for writing a book or even revising one works 100% of the time for anyone, I believe that all first drafts are shit and that it's best to get it over with as quickly as possible, and in the most uninhibited way possible.
It's impossible to write 1,666 words a day with anything resembling a normal life, and still manage to be self-conscious about how I'm writing. Yes, I go back and read pages from writing sprints, improv groups, etc. and think, "I didn't know I could write that poorly." However, I also find gems hidden among the garbage, and the gems aren't the kind of stuff I would write if I sat down and chose my words carefully. They're the poetry that I never thought I had within me that comes out because I just keep moving my fingers, and somehow, those amazing snippets sneak out.
I hear people say they can't (read: won't) write that much that fast because it's not their process. Exactly. It's nobody's process, but for one month out of the year, why not try something new? For what it's worth, the people who have said that to me are on the spectrum of mediocre to terrible writers. I'm really not sure what words they believe they are choosing so carefully.
Showing up at the keyboard every day, even when I'm tired, even when I feel like I have nothing left to say, is a way of proving to myself that I am a professional writer and that I can handle this.
I don't think that people who haven't at least tried this can really say they know their process and this isn't it when they haven't even tried.
Did you start NaNoWriMo this year? Are you done? Do you think you'll ever do it again? Let me know :-)