December 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo Winner, Baby!...and what I learned from it.


It is December 2, which can only mean one thing in my world...that National Novel Writing Month has come to a close for another year. And I am psyched to report that I am a winner once again this year!! I wrote just over 50,000 words of my new novel in the 30 days of November, which is pretty freakin' awesome. Mind you, I still have probably another 20,000 words to go before the draft is done, but...still, a huge feat! And one I never would have done in that kind of time frame without NaNo. Which is why I love it.

I liken NaNoWriMo to training for a marathon once a year. For a period of time it takes over your life. Most all of your free time is dedicated to the project and you tend to annoy the people around you by talking about it all the time...which is only really interesting to other people who are doing it too (not unlike marathon training). But this is all just because it has hijacked your brain and your life.

Despite the fact that I annoy the people around me during this month and that I tend to let other responsibilities fall by the wayside and that my husband has to pick up some serious slack when I disappear to write all the time...it's still one of my favorite months of the year now.

The pressure to write can get a little crazy, especially when I hit a wall. But that's the beauty of it. Normally when I hit a wall I wallow in it for a while, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe it derails a project entirely. But not when I'm knee-deep in NaNo. Nope, I have no choice but to plow through that stuck-point whether I like it or not if I'm going to finish. So that's what I do. I just keep writing.

Even when it sucks. Even when I know my dialog is awkward. Even when I know (as I write it) I'll probably cut the transition scene I'm writing. Even when the passion I started with wanes and I become pretty certain that everything I'm writing and have written sucks. Even when I lose entire threads in the novel and I can't remember what I named the city their all from or the name of the book I wanted to little sister to be reading in a particular scene.

I just keep writing through it all. No time to debate. No time to ponder. No time to go back and rejigger this or that. That's what editing is for. And I'm learning (painfully) that most author's first drafts are crap (just like mine). Editing is where the magic happens. But before that magic can happen, I have to vomit (sometimes painfully) that first draft onto the page. Because if I don't do that, it'll just stay this great idea in my head. And it will never see the light of day.

And maybe once I edit and rewrite and work really hard even more and the story is done, maybe it will still be crap. But maybe it won't. Maybe it'll be pretty great. And maybe it'll bring someone else some joy or make them feel less lost and alone or maybe it'll inspire them to vomit the stories from their heads onto the page. Who knows.

But I'll never know if I don't give it a go.

So, I know you're waiting for a life lesson from all of this, and here it is: If you never do the things you dream of doing...if you never create, if you never try, if you never persevere, if you never go after it and follow through, even when it's hard or uncomfortable or inconvenient, then you'll never know what you could have done and the world will never be blessed with the gifts inside of you.

It makes me wonder if we shouldn't apply the principles of NaNo to other things in our lives. Not just writing a novel, but anything, really, that you've always wanted to do or some big idea you've had. Because there's never enough time or enough money or enough...whatever.

But if you decide that it's 50,000 words of your novel in 30 days, then you'll find the time. Or if you've gotta get ready to run 26.2 miles with a bunch of other crazies, or you're going to map your entire small business plan in one month, or you're going to paint one masterpiece a day for a month, or...whatever your dream is...

We're always being told to take things slowly and break it into small, manageable pieces to make it easier to do. But maybe sometimes we really do need to go big or go home. Maybe we need to run ten miles a day or write 1667 words a day or paint a canvas a day or whatever. Maybe we need to jump in with both feet and no parachute and just go.

Maybe.

Until next time, go live the dream...I'll give you 30 days...ready, set, GO!



Random sidebar that I just had to share: As I write this, I am eating the baked oatmeal with apples at The Cocoa Beanery in Hershey, PA (which I get once a week for breakfast when I come here to write) and I must tell you that it is extra divine today. It's like an oatmeal cookie married an apple pie and had delicious breakfast babies. So good. Just saying...


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