Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Kudos and salutations to all you brave people doing #NaNoWriMo right now.

I'm writing about it today because I'm new to this concept, as I am to most other things in this writerly world. So to learn more about it, I've been following Twitter to see what people are doing and what they are saying about what they are doing.

(For those who are where I was a few weeks ago: it means National Novel Writing Month. The deal is, you sign up, you agree to write at least 50K words toward a novel, and you get to "track" your word count every day plus chat online with everyone else doing it, plus take advantage of lots of encouraging advice and online help, plus weed through a lot of vendors who want to "help".)

And what I have learned is that I envy anyone who can take the time to set and work toward those amazing goals. Whether it's because they have no kids or no spouse or perhaps an amazingly helpful/understanding spouse who will care for the kids, or grown kids or flexible work hours or no work hours at all or whatever. Because that's what it takes to be able to set and live up to those goals, and again, I say, HOW GREAT!!

I mean that - I am not being snarky. Those who know me know that I am not a snarky person, for the most part. I mean, I do have my moments... but mostly I am kind of Polyanna (don't judge) about the whole thing and I say, let everyone who can, do. And bravo to them for doing.

But I am also just going to say, as an example of another way of doing things, that I set very fluid goals. My goals are based on completing scenes and certain developments within a certain time frame, rather than word count. Because let's be real, if I set specific word count goals, I will:
1) stress too much about the word count and then forget to hug my kids,
2) stress too much about the word count and then forget to feed my family,
3) stress too much about the word count and then be too stressed.

So #NaNoWriMo just doesn't work for me, practically or conceptually.

I'm the first to admit, I'm lucky. I don't do this for a living, I do this because I simply can't get through the day without telling more of the story. My actual ability to sleep at night is dependent on whether I got it out of my head onto paper. (OK, well, onto the computer. Showing my age here.) My WIP is a set of stories I can't keep inside anymore, and so I write. 
And I care for my children all day.
And I manage my home.
And I work on course design, etc. whenever I need to for my paying gig. (Graduate School USA)
And, I really want to be a writer. I mean a real one. You know, the kind with an agent and a pub date and cover art.

(No, I am not a privileged, moneyed Mommy who doesn't have to work and so I while away the long empty hours piddling away at a book. (NO MOMMY WARS ALLOWED HERE)
I am an at-home Mommy by choice who left a lucrative career in tv news where I had the same affliction -- I simply couldn't get through the day without telling the story as best I could.)

But I digress.

For those of you who can't or have chosen not to do NaNoWriMo, please do not stress. Do not use it as the litmus test for how real an author you are or how dedicated you are to your WIP.
If you're so moved, be glad for the success of those who are in the throes and enjoying the camaraderie right now, but PLEASE do not worry that you do not have the chops to be a good writer or won't ever finish your novel just because you can't find the GIANT BLOCK OF TIME you need to do this thing.

Push yourself, to be sure. I mean, REALLY push yourself to write. (And edit, edit, edit, revise, revise, revise) You can't do it if you don't have the fire in the belly, even on the days when you don't. 
But also: write what you can when you can, set the kind of goals you can live with, and - 
Be brilliant.

No comments:

Post a Comment