Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
So, November is creeping ever closer to us yet again, and that means it's naturally time for me to think about NaNoWriMo, because it's been part of my life for the last six (going on seven, now) years.
Last year, NaNo and I had a bit of a fallout (if you're interested in reading about my NaNo 2014 experience, check out: What I Learned From NaNo 2014: It's Okay To "Fail"). I decided then that I didn't really need NaNo, and that I probably wouldn't participate for a while. And though here I am, a year later, excited for NaNo, I can honestly say that I'm holding to my declaration from last year...somewhat.
Last year, I realized that I spent so much time worrying about "winning" NaNo (that is, reaching 50K) that I completely lost track of the real winning I was supposed to be doing -- enjoying writing. I realized that I didn't need NaNo in the way that other writers need it: to reach that 50K, to know that they can write a novel, to feel like part of a community. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing NaNo in this way -- needing a challenge, which really helped me my first year; it fueled my confidence, when I saw that I had won -- but I think I've reached a writing maturity where this isn't what I need anymore...or maybe I've just done NaNo too many years.
Whatever the case, a little bit ago, I realized something else about NaNo that I wasn't able to see last year: I do still need it.
I, personally, don't need the 50K challenge. I've learned that the number of words matters far less than what those words are saying, though those words will never be perfect the first time, and that's alright. Not that a full-length novel isn't great. I love novels. And I also love to write long novels (the story I am working on this year is a re-write, and the original was 76K...I imagine the rewrite will probably be at least 90K, if not twice as long as the first draft). But for me, writing a novel in a month doesn't really cut it anymore, because I feel like I'm rushing. I'm somewhere between a Pantser and a Plotter, but I've learned that if I try to write a novel fast, I only become frustrated, and my thoughts derail. I want to integrate the NaNo thought of "getting it out", of not worrying about how strange an idea may be, or how unlikely, but I want to do that in all of my writing, not just for November.
But just because I don't need NaNo for the 50K doesn't mean that I don't need NaNo at all. This is what I have realized, and it's good to give myself permission to enjoy NaNo again, without feeling like I'm betraying either myself, or NaNo.
I'm at the point in my writing where I just want to fall into the story -- to shape it, to have a relationship with it. Our society likes to accomplish things fast, and then get quickly to the next thing, and while that isn't always bad, it no longer works for me so far as novels. My stories are taking a while to write, but the good thing about NaNo is that it brings me back to the beginning -- and that's why I need it.
We all need to be reminded of why we write in the first place. We all need to be reminded of those times when we were starry-eyed and excited for a new story, no threat or loom of where that story would go hanging over our heads, and (in my case) no worry about how long a final draft would take, and then how long before publishing. We all need to be reminded that other writers have the same joys and sorrows as we do. We all need to be reminded that stories are more than words, that they are able to change lives, to really speak to people.
We all need to be reminded that stories are magic.
NaNo has a way of bringing this thought into focus for me, of reminding me of the important things. When I think about NaNo, now that I'm not worried about the word count, I think of the story -- nothing more, nothing less. And as long as I can enjoy sitting down with my story, the number of words, the state of my first draft, and the time don't matter -- only the story does.
This year, I am revisiting an old story, which I wrote 5 years ago, shortly after I released my first novel, Clara Claus, into the world. I just recently celebrated my 5 year publishing anniversary, and so I am really excited to rework this novel, as a dual way of honoring my five years. I definitely won't finish it in November, but I am going to try to write at least 20K -- I know I said the word count doesn't matter, and it doesn't, but I still have ambitions (lol), and goals never hurt; it I reach it, great, and if not that's perfectly fine, too, and I'm glad that I've come to a place where I can truly be comfortable with "failing". I will be writing longhand, as I have been doing for a while.
Whether you're new or old to NaNo, shoot for the stars, but remember that having fun is the most important thing--
Remember that to win -- really WIN -- means to enjoy your time with your novel.
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