I’m NaNoWriMo-ing in t-minus 5 days. You’ve heard of it, right? National Novel Writing Month? I think it’s probably pronounced ‘Nah-No-Rye-Moe’, but I always pronounce it ‘Nah-No-Ree-Moe’ because I just do. I also pronounce biopic ‘bi-ah-pic’, like myopic instead of ‘bio-pic’. Feel free to be embarrassed for me.
Anyway, the point of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000+ word novel in the month of November. You can’t start before, and you have to hit 50K before the end of the month or you haven’t ‘won’.
Have I mentioned my life long dream is to write a novel? Like dating back to first grade when I won the district writing contest for my literary work of art Down in the Dumps:
I’m down in the dumps,
I’m head over heels,
Don’t know how I got here,
Maybe on wheels.
Which I also brilliantly illustrated with a picture of a girl upside-down on a pile of trash with a wagon nearby. Because I’m nothing if not literal.
I know what you’re thinking: Um, if this has been your dream your whole life, why do you need a dumb contest to do it? If it’s so important to you, why don’t you just… WRITE A BOOK?
And yes. While kind of harsh, you make a valid point. I shouldn’t need a special month to pursue what I consider my destiny. I’m just saying you could have said it in a nicer tone of voice and told me I’m pretty afterward, but whatever. The problem is, I have a small mental block about the whole thing. I’m a little… you could say, UTTERLY TERRIFIED of failing epically at the one thing I’ve wanted to do my entire life.
I’ve tried, time and time again. I never get past about 2000 words on one book before I feel the overwhelming urge to start over because it sucks or isn’t right. I fall victim to the trap of desired perfection. If I can’t do it awesomely and perfectly, then I’ll just keep starting over until it is awesomely perfect.
Obviously I know this will never work. I strongly believe writing a book is like skiing or surfing or ballet or trapeze: you have to practice to not suck. The first time you do it, it’s going to be impossible to make it down the mountain without getting snow on your ass, even if you’re a natural. You have to do it again and again and again to teach your body which way to lean so that you don’t face plant into a tree at 30 mph. You have to practice standing on releve’ with your ballet teacher poking you in the thigh, abdomen, back and shoulders shrieking for you to ‘lift up, suck in, tighten, move only right here an inch to the left’ before you can do a pirouette without eating shit.
My assumption is you can only write a novel without it being a giant steaming pile of crap once you’ve done it time and time again and learned from your errors and failures. The paralyzingly daunting difference between writing a novel and surfing a wave is that one takes a 10 minutes of paddling out and a minute and a half of struggling to stand up, while the other takes god-knows-how-much time and energy to churn out the 70-80k words of an average novel.
But I know I have the content in me. I’ve written an average of 2500 words a week for this blog consistently for the last 16 months. That’s 160,000 words, or the length of TWO novels, in just 16 months. The length shouldn’t scare me.
I just need to get over that pesky little fear of failure. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in. My plan is to go into the thing fully aware that I’m going to fail at quality. It’s going to be horrible. But I’m going to succeed at quantity. I’m going to push through and get my 50k words on the paper, on one moderately cohesive topic, in one month, even if it kills me (and it just might).
And because I always need a POA, I’ve devised a set of rules for myself for the month of November to get through the monster task of writing 50k words in 30 days (without dropping any of the other 11,639 balls I have currently orbiting my head):
1. Write at least 1,700 words every day.
2. No wine or TV is allowed unless 1,700 words have been written for the day.
3. If for some reason I am not able to complete my 1,700 words for the day, I must get up by 5AM the next day to catch up my word count for the day before. I’m still expected to complete my next 1,700 words for that day as well.
4. All NaNoWriMo writing must be done in the morning before the kids wake up or at night after they go to bed (unless I’m attending a Write-In event).
5. Blog posts are still scheduled as usual, although I am allowed to cut back to 2 per week for RE Tangent if necessary.
6. Never say die.
So… that’s where I’m at. I’ve been having nightmares about the whole thing for the last week and I’m a little sick just thinking about it, but by golly, I’M COMMITTED. (Or at least I probably will be by my husband and family by the end of all of this.)