Writerly Rant #60
By M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.
Just to put it out there, November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for the uninitiated). I’m participating with the hundreds of thousands of authors around the world to write 50 thousand words in 30 days toward a new novel/writing project.
I hate it.
It’s time for me to run screaming from those who are completely impassioned by the month-long commitment. On the other hand, I know there are those of you who’ve tried it and not returned to the dark side for more torture. Yes, torture – for me anyway.
Now, I’m not saying that I can’t write 50K in a month… just not this month. I mean, I will, to complete my pledge and personal writing goal but due to where I live on this planet (Canada) and the fact that it’s been bloody cold for most of November and we’ve had snow in my region for at least half that time, it’s a hell of a damper on my creative processes.
I’m a walker, a daydreamer, a planner and if I cannot find time to fit in a walk or a lengthy daydream to mentally flush out my next chapter… I’m lost, I stress, I get tension headaches and migraines – and that’s counter intuitive to what I’m supposed to be doing here.
Forcing myself to write when I don’t know what’s going to happen next is like asking me to tightrope walk blindfolded and not reveal if I’m suspended over Niagara Falls or the bathtub.
Now, I’ve been able to carve out approx. 2 hours a day this month in order to write. What I forgot to do (what is incredibly difficult to do) is find time for the mental planning.
I have a 3 year old son who doesn’t go to school yet demanding that we, God forbid, do things together during the day. When I’m focused on him, nothing else stands a chance. And he wears me down – he’s an exceptionally active child and I want to promote that instead of being a lump on a log in front of the TV. So that means I’m often begging for sleep (a nap dare I say) when it comes time for me to write during those scheduled 2 hours in my day. And that stifles the creativity even more.
The worst though is the use of the buddy system that the NaNo committee highly urges you to use – you know, telling people (fellow writers) that you’re doing this insane thing and agreeing to do it together… When I see their word counts skyrocketing my self-confidence weakens and the resentment sets in. This is not a motivating factor for me, this (even though it’s not intended to be) is a slap in the face reminding me that I’m not good enough (self-esteem problems stemming from childhood? You bet.)
Now, as much as I want to give up on this fiasco of a writing goal – I can’t… for a couple of reasons. The first is that I made a promise to myself that I would put my full effort into writing full-time (or part-time as the case may be since raising my son is a full-time job all by itself) and getting 3-4 fiction novels published from Oct. 1st 2014 to Oct. 1st 2015. And in order to do that I need to actually write these books, get them represented (yes, that’s where I’d like to take my writing career) and published.
The second reason is that my father once said to me that I never finish anything.
Now, from his point of view that might be true (although I’m not 100% sure why because it came up prior to me leaving community college after a year and pursuing my dream instead of his), but even though I feel as though this is a false representation of who I am, I’m constantly trying to prove that this isn’t the case (though who I’m proving it to now that my father and I are estranged, I really don’t know – a ghost perhaps?).
However, I can’t knock the system – NaNoWriMo.
I’ve learned a hell of a lot about myself, my writing style, and what motivates me during this process and it’s only half over.
I can’t say I won’t ever do a 50K in one month writing stint again – even though I know I won’t be participating in NaNo (these things can happen at any time of the year without the support of the writing community). If I can turn this writing thing into a career then my days will be filled with 2 hour blocks of writing time and word count deadlines given by publishers and agents – but I won’t be a stay-at-home-parent any more… stay at home – yes; parent – yes. But with the little tyke away at school suddenly my days open up and sky’s the limits.
If you’ve never tried NaNoWriMo – do it. You might like it, you might not. Regardless of your experience and your eventual word count I guarantee you’ll learn something about yourself as a writer.
And that makes it all worth while.