So here we are ending week two and moving into week three. Statistically (and realistically) many NaNo’ers have dropped out of the program at this point — that may include some of you, but I hope it doesn’t. Life happens or work happens or you get sick or maybe you’re just sick of your story — there’s a bazillion and one reasons people legitimately don’t have time to complete NaNo. But the big issue we always dance around admitting is that writing is hard work.
We’ve been inundated throughout our lives with the image of the romantic artist who is driven to share their art with the world. Maybe they sit in their garret bedrooms, pounding out novels on an antique typewriter, fueled only with large pots of tea and their own imaginations, while atmospheric lighting crashes outside their windows. In this fantasy, novels are produced in one go, dramatically vomited fully formed upon the page. So for a lot of people when they finally sit down to write that book they’ve always meant to get around to, it’s a bit of cold water to discover this shit is hard, yo. Writing is work. It’s effort. It’s time consuming. It can be isolating. Getting 1667 words on the page every day can be exhausting. And inevitably, you know people who have already hit 50,000 words, in some overachiever’s cases 24 hours after NaNo started, and you get a little disheartened. Maybe you start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you because you’re struggling with your story. Maybe you start to wonder if this means you aren’t supposed to be a writer.
Here’s the thing: being behind on your word count, struggling with your plot, having characters that feel a little flat at the moment — it means very little about the worth of your story or your worth as person. It’s just a struggle. And it’s a struggle because for most of us, we don’t write every day. We don’t put thousands of words down on paper every month. We are challenging ourselves. That’s part of the point of NaNoWriMo. It’s the challenge. It’s the freedom to write as much as we can, for as long as we can do it, and if we’re lucky or dedicated, we’ll have a rough draft to call our very own at the end of the month. And maybe we’ll still fire up our laptops or pull out our notebooks on December 1st and keep that momentum going.
So when you’re staring at your blinking curser or your blank page, remember that you’re not the only one doing so. Give yourself permission to admit that this isn’t as easy as it sounded when you were talking about it back in September.
And then write some more. Google writing prompts and pick the first one that sparks your interest, even if you can’t use it in your final draft. You want to keep moving, and sometimes that means producing stuff you know isn’t germane to your main story. Waste a whole day’s word count on describing your MC’s bedroom or their first break-up. You can edit it out of later drafts, but first you need to have a draft to edit.
Inspiration! Published NaNos: