It’s officially the last day of November, which means two things happen today:
- I declare that I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, because I wrote only 30k words
- I declare that I don’t care I lost NaNo, because I wrote freaking 30k words
Long story short, I had a bit of an epiphany on Day 22. I went to a book reading, and at the food and drinks bit afterward, I was sitting with my friends, one of whom was interviewing the author for our school’s paper.
When they were wrapping up, he was kind of answering our more random questions (with all the casual lyricism of a writer, of course), and I piped up and said, “Ever done NaNoWriMo?”
(Note: this was a Big Deal™ at the time because I’m horrible at speaking with complete strangers, and I usually end up blushing like an idiot when the attention of more than 2 people is on me at any one time)
Basically, I was met with a blank stare, and then after I’d explained the concept a little bit more, he turns to me and sort of scoffs, and says, “If you’re focusing on hitting a word count, you’re not going to care much about what you’re saying.”
AND IT HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS: this was why I felt so unsettled whenever I began spouting bullshit on Scrivener at 11:40 at night, desperately trying to write 1667 words before 11:59 so I could update on the website.
This was why, on Day 10, I didn’t write anything at all.
This was why, on Day 22, I stopped trying to catch up.
There were times when I would write a sentence, reread it later, and think, “that could sound better in half as many words,” but I wouldn’t change it. Why? Because I needed those words for the word count. I mean, who am I, Charles Dickens? Maybe he could make that work, but not me. I like being concise. I like to get to the point.
(Ahem, that statement’s limited to my fiction writing, not ramble-y blog posts, yeah?)
And now I know why so many people don’t participate in NaNo, and just admire others from afar. Sure, it’s hard. But it’s also not everyone’s process.
I think the concept of writing every day works for some people, but not for everyone.
I mean, not writing every day doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have discipline. If you write every other day, if you write for 12 hours on Saturdays, if you write at night and sleep during the day, it’s whatever works for you. That’s discipline. There are so many different lifestyles out there, especially when it comes to writers. After all, this isn’t usually our day job.
And you know, life gets in the way. This isn’t an excuse (no matter how much it sounds like one), but I definitely believe in prioritization. As in, my health comes before my novel 100% of the time. So does my family. So does school, unfortunately (for now). So does work. As much as I wish I could sit on the floor and write all day, I don’t have that kind of life. Maybe some people do, maybe I will one day, but I don’t right now. It’s not bad to admit that. It’s actually really, really helpful. Because on Day 22, I realized I shouldn’t be trying to force myself into something that didn’t feel organic, and I instantly felt relieved.
Writing is, to me, (duck, here comes a cliché) the reward. I mean, I wrote 30k. 30k?! That’s amazing. It’s not 50k, but it’s not nothing either. I’m still ridiculously proud of myself. I’m still glad I tried NaNo. I made some real progress on my book this month, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
So do I mind that I didn’t ‘win’ NaNo? Absolutely not. After all, I’ve got this beauty to show for it: