I have a little picture filed away above a list of many other memory-inducing snapshots on my computer.
It’s from the first day of November, the day I was supposed to start NaNoWriMo*. Instead, my room got a thorough clean out and tidy up! I did end up writing to my word count that day, I think, but it still makes me laugh—that’s so typical of day one for me, the excitement and trepidation as one stands at the edge of a cliff, wings ready to glide, but unsure yet if the winds will be strong enough to keep you aloft.
After that initial day of procrastination with a little writing on the side, the rest of the month blurred into writing in every little tidbit of time I could snatch, sometimes staying up until 11:30 at night or later just so I could finish.
I didn’t intend to stay up late, on October 30th or 31st when I signed up for the challenge. “I’ll only do what I reasonably can,” I promised myself. “It’s okay if I don’t win. I’ll only write as much as I have the time for.”
Ha. And ha! again.
I tend to be the type to really appreciate a challenge, and try to win the game—no matter what it is.
And despite taking nine days off throughout the month due to one reason or another, the Lord was gracious and gave me enough words to make it through.
Otherwise, through the month, we held a fun birthday party/cookout for one of my brothers, I was away for seven days (one a three-day trip to the North Island—I must share some pictures from that!), and some friends of ours moved down into our area.
It was a lovely month, overall. I’m so grateful to have been able to write again. I write a little each day, a habit I’ve tried to develop just to keep my writing “muscles” toned somewhat and hopefully grow as a writer, but I feel like you can grow a lot more as a writer by doing more all at once.
I’ve had a hard time even explaining to myself why I wanted to do NaNo so much. Part of it, I know, is the camaraderie—the knowing that thousands of other people around the world are trying to reach the same goal you’re aiming for, many succeeding, but others falling back. Part of it is the sense of accomplishment—the feeling that you actually got somewhere in that short amount of time. And part is the creative challenge, although that’s the hardest. Sitting down each day and pouring your heart and soul into the story takes far more energy than I’d ever expect.
But it’s so worthwhile. I don’t feel myself growing as a writer from one scene to the next, or chapter to the next, or really even one story to the next—but I know I am. Little by little, I’m getting better. Info-dumping scenes are occuring a little less often and I’m experimenting with adding a bit more description, bringing a bit more color with words and characters and dialogue.
It’s not easy.
But it’s worth it.
And I hope the experience can continue far beyond NaNo this year! I haven’t been writing as much in December, but I am still averaging higher daily wordcounts than normal, which is nice. Even so, I’m looking forward to (maybe next month? or February?) when I can do something like this again. 1,667 words per day aren’t that difficult—a couple of hours, max—and the way the story comes together so much better when you invest that daily time really makes it worthwhile.
What have you been working on lately? If you’re a writer, have you ever done a writing challenge before? If not, what was your favorite part of your November?
*NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month; a writing challenge that runs through the month of November with the goal of ending the month with 50,000 words or more written in a new book.