November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This week’s Pep Talk was originally sent to the NH Region Wrimos on 11/12/18. – Yvette/wilabea94
Welcome to Week 2!
How’s everyone’s novel going? I’ve seen word counts on the NH Region page that range from 0 to 50K+. Congratulations!
I’m woefully behind, which to be honest, is pretty typical given my work schedule and additional responsibilities in November. It’s a busy time and life doesn’t stop just because I announced my novel. It’s budget season for my town, we hold an annual fundraiser, I attended a conference on Saturday, went to the movies with my husband; next week, we’re inviting people over for Thanksgiving and then seeing my SIL over T’day weekend, I’m going to hang out with my nephew to give him notes on his WIP while he’s home from college…all of these things are events that I’ve chosen to say YES to because they’re important (ok, TBH I can’t really say No to work things…) and I’m trying to think of event time as downtime away from my NaNoNovel. I need that too.
If this year’s NaNoWriMo is anything like previous years, I’ll end up strung out on caffeine a couple of late nights and stumble into work with that familiar NaNo-hangover. It’s all part of the experience for me, and TBH, a twisted badge of honor to wear. It’s a mental and physical marathon.
Attempting to write a 50K word first draft in 30 days is not typical, Wrimos, but we all jumped in to work in a structured environment and to build a disciplined writing habit. Because my life doesn’t stop (and like I said, it usually picks up), this means getting up a little earlier or staying up a little later to write. It means carrying a small notebook around with my outline so I can jot down notes if a story problem I’ve been puzzling over happens to unravel while I’m attending to the rest of my life. For me, it means that the house is a little messier, the yard is still covered in leaves and it means we’re eating off the Christmas dishes because they’re the clean ones in the cupboard. It means when I do have time to sit down at the computer and pick up where I left off, I discipline myself to just use those moments to push forward on my novel – no internet, no Facebook, no checking kids’ schedules. NaNoSprints on Twitter has been a great external aide because they run timed word sprints. Our Merrimack Kick-off speaker, Rob Greene, advised us to use a visit to the forums and NaNo website as a reward after we’ve hit our daily 1667 word count goal. I can blame work and chores and family gatherings but what I really have to battle with is procrastination and my own sabotage.
It’s not an easy thing to create something out of nothing, and that Wrimos, is what we are doing. I’ve been working on my outline for the better part of this year and yet, I still sit down to my computer and have to take a deep breath and wonder, what the heck am I doing?
And maybe that’s the truly scary thing about NaNoWriMo.
For me, it always comes back to permission – this terrifying reality that I’ve given myself permission to tap into this powerful part of myself that Creates, the place where I say I’m happiest – that I’m going to look very closely and analyze and think deeply about the ugliest aspects of humanity. Maybe I fear what I’ll find there.
Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (and a presenter during NaNoWriMo Prep Week) says that many writers stumble because we’re nice people and have become so fond of our main character that we don’t want to cause them pain. This really has been a stumbling block for me for years. My husband, who is my #1 fan and cheerleader, did not mince words at the start of the month when he told me that I can string some pretty words together, and have fascinating ideas, but just fizzle out in the middle. Ouch. Tell me something I don’t know. I just don’t want to hurt anyone.
“So instead of pulling off the gloves, you’re sorely tempted to begin pulling punches. You want to be fair to him. But there’s the thing: we’re not talking about you. We’re talking about life, aka the plot. And life isn’t fair. That’s why we need stories – to figure out how to deal with all those unfair things that happen, so we can have the strength and the wisdom to be fair ourselves. If life doesn’t pummel your protagonist hard, he can’t figure out what’s fair and what isn’t, let alone muster the courage, moxie, heart and smarts to surviving a world that can be so darn unfair. In other words, not only won’t he have anything to teach us, but he won’t be a worthy teacher.” (Cron, p 126)
Whew. Good stuff to think about.
I’ve got to get back to my NaNoNovel, Wrimos, so I’ll leave you with this:
Shannon Hale, New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels, three books for adults, co-author of the hit graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale, says this of the process:
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
Awesome…or it will be.
So as we move into Week 2, keep shoveling, Wrimos!