Now I have no expectations that this will be a masterpiece. Oh no, far from it. This will not be in the same league as Henry James, much less E.L. James. This will be my first written project in two years and first judged work in more than five. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an independent project. The writer takes it upon themselves to complete 50,000 words in a month and the only thing that keeps them going is self-motivation. And because it is so independent, participants don’t need to show their work, just note how many words they’ve completed.
At 30,000 words, my NaNo project is my longest work to date, but it is also a long compiled wordlist of garbage. For the entire month, you are made to push out words into sentences and those form paragraphs, and you hope to hell that everything makes sense. You ignore the plot holes, the fact that you changed the names of three characters after page 6 and again on page 20. You know that you turned a specific noun into a verb but convince yourself that it works!
It was a dreadful experiment in that I hated coming to my computer to write nonsense and I’d visibly cringe as I did it, but it did have its positive sides.
- Perfection is the opposite of completion and you learn to be okay with that.
I had a premise, that a man killed a woman in a hit and run. I didn’t have a name for my protagonist nor any secondary characters. I didn’t have a setting. I couldn’t even tell you the ending, whether it be happily ever after or if there would be a sequel that delved into the legal system on Nov 1. But damn it if I didn’t buck out a plot with every passing day. There were plot twists that included a pregnancy. There was the issue of morality of life and death that went further than I thought I possessed. And I named him Nick.
It should be noted that I didn’t know how a car would look after hitting anything (perfect driving record, yay!) nor the charges an officer would lay onto someone. I don’t know anything about pregnancy other than the highly inaccurate crazy hormonal upsurges I picked up from television. But I didn’t let these stop me.
You see, the most important thing a writer can do is write.
You can always edit and do thorough research later, but if you have nothing to written down, it kind of ends there. Which brings me to point 2.
- It gives you a routine.
A few years ago I began running, but I was so out of shape that lasting a minute was absolutely undoable. I’d go around the neighbourhood at 2am because I was too embarrassed to be seen huffing and puffing by anyone. The embarrassment and the early hours were not conducive to a steady exercise routine so it would be weeks before I’d reach for my running shoes again.
This all changed when I registered for a race. It was only a 5K but it gave me a goal. All of a sudden I was running twice a week, which became thrice and then every night a week before race day.
Every night when 2am hit, I was lacing up my shoes. During Nov 2015 every night at 7pm I sat down in front of my computer to type as much as I could and I found that much more difficult than marathon training (one took only half an hour each night all the by-product was sweat while the other was at least an hour to two and mentally you are shot). But it became a daily habit with an end goal, so I credit that month to my current novel writing aspirations.
- It gives a great sense of accomplishment.
I didn’t do the required 50,000 words to receive a piece of paper that said “Congratulations!” at the end, but finding that I ground out 30K by Dec 1 was quite exciting. Perhaps it was depression’s effects but seeing that I had done so much work for little reward other than self-satisfaction was priceless for me. This short hobby almost gave me a purpose, or at least a new found passion.
I definitely recommend everyone doing this challenge, even if they don’t finish it and to give their full effort into attempting the required 1,667 daily word hit.
It is stressful but such a wonderful learning experience.