The infamous second week of NaNoWriMo is upon us, the week most notable for the number of people who drop out. In some ways, given the goals, the second week of NaNo might be the most important for any writer who participates.
Not because remaining in the program guarantees a full novel, but because remaining will help alter the perceptions and self-esteem of those who continue.
Too many declare that it’s too hard or they’re behind so they might as well quit and try again the following year. This isn’t just about your strength of will or endurance. I mean, I get that it’s pitched that way and that’s often the focus of advice. Yes, even from me.
What I mean, is that it’s vital to remain for the sake of your future self. This is a battle for the soul of the writer within. Even if you don’t finish the novel, you give yourself a head start on being a writer.
If you think of your writing life as a marathon that begins now and ends when you do, then really and truly, when better to start that beginning than now.
Think about it this way. If you wanted to train for a real marathon would you take one stab at trying to run a mile, decide it was hard, and say you’ll try again next year? No. At least, I hope not. Instead, you’d work up to that mile, that milestone helping to power you to the next.
What better milestone than NaNoWriMo? You’ve already learned so much, the good and the bad. You’ve gotten a taste of testing your initial process. You’re starting to see what works for you and what doesn’t. You’re learning how easy or hard it is to schedule your writing time. Most important, you’re creating a story. Do you really want to put all that on hold?
Even if you write a short novel or a partial novel, if you continue with all you’re learning now it’ll continue to build over time. Maybe that novel will take you six months. The habits you’ll need over the course of those months you’re establishing right now. Don’t surrender them.
You’ve probably heard the adage by now: You can’t edit a blank page.
Editing will be another hurdle, but you have to reach the hurdle to face it. What you need to get there is happening right now. You’re in the race, your race.
My first NaNo was messy. I wasn’t ready. I was disorganized. I tend towards planning and had no plan. I didn’t even have a plan for my plan because I didn’t have a process. That first NaNo was the beginning of ALL of that.
1925 Rolls-Royce Springfield Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster, similar to what Talma Loyal would drive (hers is cherry red & has some magic features). Author:Michel Curi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/119886413@N05/24046256528/
From that first NaNo began the formation of my process and a clearer picture of what I wanted to write. All in all, it was the true beginning of Christina Anne Hawthorne, writer. I finished with about 65K words and a bad novel full of some great ideas and a ton of experience.
That was a milestone, so I kept at it.
This year is representative of how all that can come together. Yes, I’m in lockdown and not working, but it went much the same last year and I was working part-time. I’m also alone and there’s nothing worse than that for undermining your determination.
Unless it’s already forged.
I won NaNo this year on the 9th, but my goal remains the full novel. The thing is, it hasn’t been as difficult as many might assume. Process. Experience. Both of those are powering me along. The words are flowing with relative ease. Truthfully, I’ve been surprising myself.
When you don’t have to fight yourself everything is easier. In pro football they call it playing fast and it comes from experience, from the game slowing down for the player. They don’t think, but instead do.
Ever try to cook a big meal in a kitchen you aren’t familiar with? Every simple act takes three times as long.
I’ll reach the story’s midpoint tomorrow and I really am shocked. Sometimes I think I’m forgetting something. Am I going to look back and discover I left out five chapters?
Too, and I’ve mentioned this before, I’m not stressing over the parts that I know aren’t great. The first edit is magic. Editing is my ace. It’s my secret weapon. That confidence comes from experience.
I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by some parts of the novel that turned out better than expected. Those, then, represent tiny milestones this month. My heart has fluttered and broken. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried.
Given the power of retrospective vision, I see the path behind me stretching to that first NaNo. Truly, I was convinced that it could never be as easy as it was last year when I drafted Protecting the Pneuma Key. I was wrong. I’m stunned.
And I’m oh so happy.
So, don’t give up. Don’t delay until next year. Do as much as you can. You’ve started the engine on this whole writing thing. You might as well as take that car out for a drive.