It’s November and thus it’s NaNoWriMo. Generally this means you write 50,000 words of a novel. I did that last year. This year I’m doing things a little differently. I’m going to do two 15,000 word stories and 24 illustrations. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words?
As of today, I’m at 7,265 words and 7 illustrations. That’s behind pace, but mostly due to a water polo tournament, which has a way of reducing one’s concentration to jelly for a few days (which is not unrelated to the shortness of this post).
I’m glad I did the traditional NaNoWriMo last year, to prove to myself that I could. But this year is about making the wonderful NaNo collective spirit work for me. I feel really inspired, and really excited about my eventual final product. I have two novel drafts that need reworking, and the prospect of another hulking chunk of words sitting around wasn’t very exciting. With the lower word count, I spend more time editing and creating a tighter first draft. I will come out of this month with something new to be proud of, which to me is the goal at the heart of NaNoWriMo.
This year I am doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time, in which you write 50,000 words in a month. I am also writing my PhD thesis (137 pages so far!), which must be done before the end of the month. I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about figures and citations. On top of that, I am TA-ing for 20 hours a week. So that sounds like I have enough to do–why I am I doing NaNoWriMo?
I was reluctant about scheduling away so much time at first. I really hate being busy. If I’m busy with work, I tend to see people less, just so I can maintain a little autonomy in my schedule. However, lately I’ve worked so hard on technical writing that I feel guilty doing fun stuff. In the last month, I’ve barely written fiction, I’ve barely been outside, I’ve barely seen friends, and I’ve barely worked on other hobbies. Whenever I picked up a book to read or a pen to draw, a little voice said “shouldn’t you be working on your dissertation?” I don’t work on my dissertation all the time, but it always weighs on me.
I still waste time. Everyone does. I still watch TV, I still read pointless websites. I decided that fun has to happen too. If fun won’t happen spontaneously, then scheduling something makes sense.
So– NaNoWriMo. I went to the kickoff event here Friday. Everybody was really friendly and energized. Several of my friends from my science fiction writing group do it. It’s fun to talk about writing when most of the time you sit and stare at it. It’s fun to feel an external incentive to write, when professional obligations push the other way. I’m not writing a novel, because I still have an unedited novel draft waiting for my attentions. I decided to write a few novellas, which are longer than short stories and shorter than novels. I look forward to what the rest of the month holds. Three days in, and I’m having fun writing. I might fail to reach 50,000, but I’ve already written 7200 words that I probably wouldn’t have without this challenge.