Here you'll find current musings, as well as the archives from two blogs of yesteryear: YoungMarriedMom and What I Learned While Writing a Novel. Please comment and share. We love well when we are in conversation with one another.
This month I am taking part in a national challenge: NaNoWriMo—in long form, National Novel Writing Month—is a challenge to complete one novel, start to finish, 50,000 words in the month of November. Fifty thousand words equate to about 175 pages, and if you write each day, that turns out to about three single-spaced pages per day. There isn’t time to edit, so you must simply write, write, write, and not look back. The goal is not to have a good novel by month’s end; it is simply to have a novel.
Like many people, I’ve had ideas for novels here and there, a character that would behave this way, a situation that would lead to this event, etc. Part of me thinks it’s crazy to take this on with a six-week-old baby at home, but if not now, when?
In the first day alone, the pressure to get to that word count helped me to push a lot of the inhibitions I have about writing fiction aside. Each time I sit down to write, I’m taking every idea that comes to mind and plopping it down, seeing where things will take me, simply in order to reach my daily goal. I already have more characters than I need—I often have to add in new ones as to not contradict traits I’ve applied to others—but they’re also starting to do things I never expected.
Staying on schedule is tough, but I think it would be even without a newborn. A large part of this challenge is simply having the discipline to make time to write every day. I’ve adjusted the daily goal for myself, because I recognize that weekends and Thanksgiving are days that I want to spend with John and our family, without having something else to do. Still, this means I only need about an hour each day to stay on track. (For the record, I am not on track now; I fell behind on day two, but alas.)
The other great thing about NaNoWriMo is how productive it has made me in other areas of my life. With a big project like this in mind, it’s easy for those little things around the house to suddenly seem more important. While to some extent I am trying to reel in the many opportunities for procrastination, I also remind myself that if I can write for an hour, I can take another half hour to make those phone calls or clean off our desk. As long as the novel’s still getting written, why not add a little more to the to-do list?
I was a bit skeptical when I heard about NaNoWriMo for the first time—why write a novel you don’t expect to be any good?—but now I see that this is a great way to make something I’d been dreaming about for too long finally happen. Anne Lamott writes about the importance of bad first drafts in Bird by Bird, and this month I am taking her advice to heart. I believe this is going to make me a better writer, a better editor, and a better person for having accomplished my goal. And now, off I go . . . Here’s to achieving today’s word count!