The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

National Novel Writing and Peeing My Pants With Fear Month

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.)

15 Responses to National Novel Writing and Peeing My Pants With Fear Month

  1. It took years and years for Olive Ann Burns to write Cold Sassy Tree, published in 1984, but it was sure worth the wait. But could you maybe put a rush on yours. Mama Bennett isn’t getting any younger and doesn’t want to miss out on what is sure to be a blockbuster!

  2. YOU CAN DO IT!

    It helps if when you get on a roll with something and you have the time, to just keep writing even if you’ve hit 1700 for the day. Then in three or four days when you suddenly have no idea how to get from point A to point C in the story you can take a day or two off to ponder why exactly it is that you know how the story begins and how it ends but not what actually happens in the in-between parts. This helped me understand how one time the characters in a book I was reading suddenly ended up inside of a blue whale in the ocean. and then how the blue whale turned out to be a very secret alien space ship instead of a whale. I was always puzzled by that strange turn of events until I got stuck about 2/3 of the way through my own novel in November. And then a secret alien society living underwater and driving around in blue whales was suddenly seen as a stroke of literary genius.

    Sincerely,
    NaNoWriMo Winner, 2007

    • Very helpful! Hey Wendy, did you ever go back and edit your 2007 work of staggering genius or do anything with it?

      • ha! NO! I sent it to Kelley as I wrote it and she was always saying how much she was enjoying reading it. But other than that, it’s still saved on an external hard drive exactly how I wrote it. I haven’t even read it again.

        I know there are writers out there who have gone on to publish their NaNoWriMo works and become successful authors. But I don’t think that will be me. It was just a goofy story.

  3. The best thing i learned from NaNoWriMo was to just write, even when you know it’s crap. It might take 3 paragraphs of utter nonsense to get to that 1 sentence that is gold. In other words, Dickens probably didn’t write “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” the first time he sat down with a pen…don’t be too hard on yourself.

    • See, that is exactly what I’m hoping to prove to myself. Adam, I didn’t realized you’d done it! Last year? Did you win?

      • I think it was 3-4 years ago (might have even been PK, or pre-Kim). I didn’t finish, but i learned some really valuable lessons…most of which is that you just have to keep on trucking through it.

  4. Hmmmmmm…. Tempting. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, maybe this is the kick in the ass I need. You’re a far better writer than I, but I may just give this a shot. Why didn’t they pick a month with 31 days? I’m gonna be pissed if I get to 48,300 words and need that 31st day…

  5. Pingback: November is National Novel Writing Month. Taking the plunge. - The Phoenix Real Estate Guy

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