As some of you know, today is not only Guy Fawkes Boxing Day, it is also Day 6 of NaNoWriMo. (For those of you who definitiely know that today is Day 6 of NaNoWriMo, I look forward to hearing from you again in December.) This November, I am with my writing brethren in spirit, but not in practice. In all honesty, I’ve only ever attempted NaNoWriMo once: last year. I had to stop halfway through because my hands tried to fall off. (I’m not saying that the two are related, it was just bad physiotherapy-three-days-a-week timing.) So, really, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo.
Luckily, I fastened myself to the beam in the middle of my basement to stop from being sucked into the computer from all of the gasps. Odysseus and the Sirens-style. While I’m here, I might as well tell you all that I like Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy better than Colin Firth’s.
Before being unable to physically function during last year’s NaNoWriMo, I was really starting fail creatively. I cannot function at writing, writing, writing and just barrelling forward like a… barrel. My education background and my general personality are heavily editing-based, and thinking about the massive amount of editing that would come in December was making me die inside. I know that for some people, this is what makes NaNoWriMo a great exercise. It’s constantly going back to edit that stops them from moving forward. But I like editing – and I definitely prefer writing a chapter and then editing those thirty pages, preparing them for what comes next in the story (which I usually only think of after a lot, a lot, a lot of thinking about what I just wrote), rather than writing a half a book and then going back to fix not only the glaringly bad things, but also the substantive things and the smaller grammar things and the hundred other things like foreshadowing and character arc.
I don’t see writing and then editing as taking one step forward and one step back, I see it as taking one step forward and carefully planning the next step so I don’t get eaten by a lava monster.
The other thing is… some people use NaNoWriMo to get out the writing ya-yas that they’re unable to express for the rest of the year, due to whatever reasons. They steal whatever moments they can to scribble down sentences and are constantly thinking about what comes next. For the month of November, they’re those glossy-eyed people in line at Starbucks making a small gesture that, extrapolated, kind of looks like they’re killing someone with a shovel.
I am that person all the time. I have been working on a novel for two and a half years. It’s my job. So November is just like the thirty other months that came before it. I keep writing, editing, writing, writing. It’s fun, but I’m also dead serious about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it would be totally rad to write that much in one month – and massive respect and kudos for those of you who do it. My writing psyche just cannot function that way.
From now until Day 30, I wish all of you the very best of luck. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe learn something about you or about your story. I may not be keeping up with you, but I’m on the same track.
Happiest of writing this November! Those of you who are friends/friends with benefits/significant others of NaNoWriMo participants, remember that writers need hugs, too. Just wait until they’ve stepped away from their pen or computer and make sure the hug does not last longer than 3-Mississippi. Your writer will immortalize you in unflattering fiction (and maybe cut you) if you stand between him/her and the word count.