Ding-dong, the month is done!
Yes, the equally anticipated, boycotted, and ignored in the writerly world month of November is already behind us, and with it a lot of pressure for some people out there.
A couple of weeks ago, I managed to get away from the obsessive-compulsive idea that all the words I’m writing should be going towards my NaNo overall word count, and composed this post summarising my experience so far.
Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over and I am officially a “winner” –
yes, I won, even though I don’t necessarily feel like bragging about it yet – here’s a short afterthought.
The reason why I wouldn’t brag about winning NaNo is neither because I want to downplay my or anyone else’s achievement, nor because I’m “too cool to talk about a win”, nor still because I don’t really feel like I’ve won yet. The latter, however, would be closest to the truth.
For me, the National Novel Writing Month was a personal challenge and a way to sit my arse down and get a good chunk of this story of mine out. It was also a way to finally have some external motivation to write every single day in order to develop a good habit (for a change).
So, am I a novelist now? Hah! Sorry, NaNo people, but as much as you keep telling that to all of your participants, the answer is “No”. Not even close. Anyone with any reason in their head knows that it’s impossible to come out with a ready for print novel in a month of sprinting against the clock. If you’re very good, very talented, and very persistent, you can probably have a nice looking first draft. And that’s optimistic. I, personally, am not nearly close to finishing that first draft. Because as I go along and I’m thinking “Oh, I have these couple of chapters here to get to the culmination”, it turns out there is so much more that pops up and demands to be explained and understood. Characters refuse to die or stars don’t line up right when you need them too… It’s a complicated process.
Do I still consider myself a winner then? Absolutely! This is my real gain from this month – not only am I more than 55,000 words closer to finishing my novel but now this story, thinking about it, writing it, is such an integral part of me and my every day that I know I will finish it. It might not become a bestseller, it might not even get published at all, but it will come into existence, and I will have NaNoWriMo to thank for that in a big way.
Long story short – because I am yet again short for time, due to some travelling that needs to be done in an hour – at the risk of sounding very, very sentimental and overly dramatic, NaNoWriMo might just have been the best thing I’ve ever done for my career as a writer. Only time will tell.
So, if you’re someone who’s ever thought of doing NaNo, but got dissuaded, because they didn’t think they’d manage to “win” – attempting something is already so much more victorious than never even trying!
And to those who discard the notion on the basis that the platform feeds unrealistic ideas of becoming a novelist overnight, or because they think it’s just a crazy dream:
- You always have to rely first and foremost on your own reason – think for yourself and trust your own judgement, don’t just follow blindly other people’s ideas or convictions. That goes for life in general.
- I believe every writer needs a little bit of crazy, a little bit of unrealistic dreamer, and a little bit of naivety inside them. I might be wrong, but… I’m not known for that among my friends 😛
- Oh yes, I’m also pretty sure that writers do need to be cocky and unapologetic sometimes. Sometimes 🙂