I just finished the 2019 NaNoWriMo challenge. It is the third time in the last ten years that I have accomplished the goal, writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
This last month is the fourth time I’ve taken the challenge, having accomplished the goal three times. And this time was the best of the three. This time I worked on a project that excited me. At no point was I writing words to fill space, to make the goal. I wrote an actual story.
What I love most about the NaNoWriMo challenge is how it shows us we are capable of getting down to the nitty-gritty. We are capable of writing a lot when we must.
I’ve dreamt of becoming a published author for most of my life. The reason I’m not is probably more to do with the fact I have been great at excuses. I’ve made every excuse in the book.
I don’t have enough time in the day.
I’m too tired at the end of the day.
I don’t feel creative when I need to be.
NaNoWriMo forces us to toss out the excuses. We need to write a certain number of words every day to make that goal. If you fall behind, the pressure intensifies. You see that chart track your progress, taking away our excuses, and forcing us to shut up and write.
I don’t think I could live a life where all I do is write. Yes, it’s a romanticized idea, where you wake up in the morning and go for a peaceful walk or do some yoga, then sit down and write for a few hours, afterward spend some time with friends or take in a hobby, then come back to your writing, and finish the day with a warm tea in front of the fire. Sure, that sounds awesome if you could make a living doing it. But to tell you the truth, I don’t want that life. My life is, like yours, a bundle of stress. I have a job (one I love), and I try to have a social life, so in my spare time, I have to do all that I can to finish my writing for the day.
NaNoWriMo also taught me to write wherever and whenever. I’ll write on my laptop, my iPad, or my phone. One of the things I’ve started doing is opening up a note app on my phone and using the microphone to dictate my stories. The apps are decent at taking dictation, but they don’t pick up everything I say as I say it. So there is a lot of retyping to do later.
This practice has done two things for me: first, it’s helped to relieve some of the pain in my fingers. I have to do a lot of typing at work anyway, so I’m trying to protect my hands and fingers and wrists; second, I can get a lot more writing done when I’m dictating it into the phone and allowing the app to put the words on the page for me.
You might be saying ‘wait a minute that’s not writing,’ think about this, what if I didn’t have arms? I say use the technology that exists. Why not?
I’ll write on the train on the way to work; I’ll write during my lunch break; I’ll write at night when I get home; I’ll use my weekends to do as much writing as possible. In other words, I’ll write whenever I can.
NaNoWriMo reminds us that we write when possible, and if we remove the excuses, we will surprise ourselves as to how much writing we can get done in a day.
I hope your writing is going great. If you made it through November and met the 50,000-word goal, congratulations, if you didn’t, don’t worry about it. I failed miserably last year.
It’s not about doing this just one month out of the year. It’s about writing for the rest of your life. So get to work, and write that novel.