NaNoWriMo: Just Do It

It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. NaNoWriMo is nearly over. My novel (45,226) is almost finished. It’s actually almost finished. This story that’s been bugging me for the last year that I’ve mentioned to people in passing is now officially in print and chronologically organized. It’s real. Finally.

It’s known in my tiny circle of friends that one of my biggest pet peeves is saying you’re going to do something—and then not do it. Don’t worry. This is not going to be a post critiquing your life because you probably know what you’ve been putting off doing. Plus I’m eating a slice of pecan pie at 7:30 in the morning  and would feel like a hypocrite trying to advise other on self-improvements. I do have a few things to say on the matter of writing, however.

I’m going to keep saying this until you believe me. Writing is hard. Finding time to write is hard. Summoning the energy to write is hard. Ignoring your inner critique is hard. With all that in mind, writing a novel seems impossible. Circumstantial events derail your daily routines. Life, universe, omnipotent beings, your neighbors upstairs all can throw you off track. These are also things out of your control. I suppose you could try to conquer the world or try out for godhood, but I’d say it’s easier to recognize the things you do have control over than dwell on the things you can’t control; otherwise, you’re just going to feel powerless and defeated, and this mentality is counterintuitive to what you need to get something accomplished. Don’t let what you can’t control stop you. Think about what you can do and then just do it. Yes, my great sage advice boils down to an old Nike slogan. Hear me out, please.

Doing doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself into a pit of fire. This is how many of us overwhelm ourselves. We tackle too many things at once. Most of us like to get things done like yesterday. Long-term goals are cruddy because it’s so easy to lose motivation and come up with excuses as to why you haven’t done it. We all want to get things done so quickly that we end up burning ourselves out. Doing a long-term goal takes time, effort, concentration, and dedication. You incrementally spend hours per day to reach a larger goal. It’s not a glamorous thought and to many this process is boring and not attractive. I think we imagine that whatever we write will happen quickly and be brilliant. That’s the dream. But the reality is: writing a novel takes time to write. Let’s not even get into how long it takes to develop your draft into something readable, let alone, brilliant. I’m still editing my first novel.

Contrary to NaNoWriMo’s ‘just write’ mantra, there’s a little more that goes into the process that’s often overlooked. I know before actually writing, there are people preparing their story’s outline, which if you recall from my earlier post, I can’t creatively write and follow an outline. Something else to consider is your writing schedule. For me, I usually wrote a minimum of 1700 words a day with a maximum of 2000. Sometimes I would surpass my maximum, but I tried not to do that as it usually gave me a reason to write less the next day. It all sounds technical, but once you’re in the frame of mind to write, you’ve written 1,000 words without feeling like you’ve even tried.

With under 5,000 words, I’m almost there, and while it still feels weird to even picture having a skeletal draft of a novel (another one), it’s. . . really exciting. I can’t believe I’m almost there. Okay. I’ll stop saying that now.

Thank you everyone for following my NaNoWriMo series during this hectic month. I also have to give thanks to Keith, my significant other, whose encouragement kept me going me and basically stopped me from spending an entire afternoon reading or food binging on pie. I’d also like to thank the Nerdfighter NaNo community. They are truly, really awesome.

I know it’s been a struggle. You’re probably exhausted. Some of you may even be frustrated with yourselves and desperately seeking a vacation from life. There’s still time to reach your goal! But if you fell behind and are fairly aware of your situation and know you’re not going to reach your goal, don’t let the end of NaNoWriMo hold you back. You wanted to write a novel, right? Then do it. If nothing else, don’t let yourself be your road block.

Thanks again.

Starting next Monday, December 1, I’ll be back to writing book reviews (YAY!). The books to come (and, no, there’s no distinct order as to which I will review them):

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Yes Please By Amy Poehler

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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