There has been a lot of discussion these past two weeks about Nanowrimo. Unless you live under a rock, or perhaps even if you do, you will know that’s National Novel Writing Month. Is it good? Is it terrible? The rules of the challenge are simple: on November 1st, begin writing. On November 30th, pause. If you have 50,000 words, you’ve “won.” Personally, I think “victory” goes beyond the final word count.
Words. No matter what your final word count actually is…if it’s fifty thousand…if it’s twenty-five thousand…if it’s one thousand…you made words. You have a stack of pages full of words…ideas…and perhaps even a plot. And if not, you have something you can form into such a thing. You are forming the Play-Doh from which stars can be extruded.
Habit. The act of placing fingers to keys; the act of putting butt in chair, or café bench, or wherever you sat down. They say it takes twenty-eight days to form a habit. November has thirty days. Have you formed a habit? Will you continue to make words on a daily basis? Even if not, you know you can. You’re doing it this month. Do it again. November may have given you permission to sit down and bang out the words, but they’re yours to take whenever you like. Keep on.
You made stuff. Perhaps you finally took all of those scribbled notes on fragments of paper and cocktail napkins and put them in some order (or, like me, put them into a non-linear blender and hit “on”). Perhaps you finally opened a notebook and wrote the words that have been bubbling up inside of you for years. Perhaps you leapt in without any idea of where you were going or where the words would lead. You made stuff.
You participated in the writerly community. Writing can be such a solitary thing. You, alone with your thoughts and characters. You, talking to yourself as you work out a scene. (Your neighbors locking the doors and drawing the blinds so as to not watch as you pantomime something with great passion.) Connecting with other writers who are also struggling to create…that’s a victory. It’s easy to stay introverted and talk only to your characters. This I know. Interacting with other writers: win.
It been fun! There were gatherings in cafes and bookstores and clubs and forums to gossip on and…oh yeah, the writing!
You’re learning stuff! Every time you write, you learn things. Be it through actual research or about your own personal process. How do you work best? Maybe you work best without a daily word count! Or maybe you work best with a group of peers and like the challenge of watching those word counts go up and up and up. Even if you think your project currently sucks, I bet you’ve learned something along the way. (Did you know: Shimmer‘s art director emeritus Mary Robinette Kowall started her novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, as a Nano novel?)
Leave a comment…what’s YOUR personal victory if you’re working on something for Nanowrimo?…and then, get back to it. The month is only half over! Keep making Play-Doh!