November is a hectic month. I’m usually trying to make my place presentable and more accommodating for visitors since I host Thanksgiving dinner every year. It’s something I enjoy doing because: #1. I don’t have to leave the house and #2. It forces me to keep decluttering and keep my small space reasonably clean, neat and organized.
At the end of last October a friend told me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) saying she was going to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I thought it was a cool concept but didn’t think I could spare the time. Until I realized I was bored again. While I’m still excited about learning Korean, I needed something else to keep my gears going. So on the spur of the moment I decided to try NaNoWriMo. I’ve written novels before (all unfinished), but never with a timeframe attached. I haven’t done much creative writing in years.
The first thing I decided was to write no matter if the writing sucked. Which as it turns out is the advice you get right of the bat from the seasoned NaNoWriMo participants.
The hardest part about the NaNoWriMo experience for me was devoting ample time. Using my lunch hour and after work hours to tap away on a novel meant not going out to eat. It meant planning for turkey day dinner had to be quick. It also meant watching my home become a disaster zone of a sink full of dishes, mail stacks, laundry, etc. And in three weeks it all needed to be out of the way before my family and guests arrived.
One day at the grocery store, I met a man who invited me out. When I explained to him what I was working on and would call after November 30 he seemed understanding. Unfortunately, I put his name and number in my phone and CRS struck by December 1. I don’t remember his name so I can’t call him. And now what was the truth really looks like a lame excuse to turn someone down.
The other hardest part was that as an editor, I really had a hard time just writing and not going back to edit. I literally at one point started to put on a cap when I was writing and taking it off when I wasn’t just to make sure I didn’t edit. It mostly worked.
In the end I didn’t make it to 50,000 words.It seems to me that trying to write in that compressed amount of time and working a full-time job, you have to be really selfish and very focused. As I tried to figure out how I could write with four people in my home, I decided that I couldn’t justify being that selfish for something that I wasn’t getting anything from other than self satisfaction. I chose to enjoy my family whom I rarely see for the seven-day visit. So I spent a week of the month not writing.
I thought NaNoWriMo was what I needed to jumpstart my writing. What I learned is that through blogging I had already started writing more again. Even better, I started without the restrictions of trying to be perfect and create something that would sell. Just writing to say what’s on my mind, not worrying to much about if it’s good or bad. I may pick another month to try to write a novel in 30 days. I refuse to sacrifice my rare time with my parents or brothers for writing. NaNoWriMo brought clarity to my own unrealized priorities.
A funny thing happened as the hours ticked away to the end of NaNoWriMo. I wanted to watch a Korean music awards show that had aired and was being rebroadcast on the last night of NaNoWriMo. I followed my bliss and watched the awards show as I continued writing. Which led to me wanting to write a scene into my story about my main characters at an awards show. By then it was midnight. I was still writing although the contest was over; I actually do want to finish my novel in a way, but it’s not a priority. There are just things I want to do more.
Despite the challenges I enjoyed participating in my first NaNoWriMo.
Shout out to my writing buddies
There is nothing like some good old-fashioned, loving shaming from your writing buddies to make you keep going. In my first NaNoWriMo I made it to 15,000 words writing about a boy band of the future. I enjoyed the interaction a support I got from my three writing buddies and a spare (a coworker who joined in on the encouraging shaming.) The priceless advice to “throw in some zombies” if you’ve written yourself into a corner and “kill off your darlings” if your characters are too boring was entertaining and helpful. I appreciate their support and other friends who asked how I was doing along the way. And two of my writing buddies actually passed the 50,000 word count mark! Pretty inspiring.