There are two kinds of writers in the world: those that do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and rise to the challenge of producing 50,000 words in November, and writers that spend the month coming up with excuses why this is not sensible, practical, rational or useful.
I’ve always been in the latter camp.
I mean sure, I could write 50,000 words in a month. But who wants to read a book composed of “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” repeated 5,555 times?
Then, the Beast showed up. “Best Friends for Never,” he said in a phlegmy whisper.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll write it. Someday. Like when it’s warmer. When the bills are caught up. I’ll take some vacation time—next year maybe. When I’m caught up on my sleep. And laundry. Better yet, when my youngest is out of elementary school and I don’t have to haul my oldest to band practice at 6:30 am. Or when I’m retired.
“Write it now,” he said. He let out a stale stream of cigarette smoke and flicked some ashes on the rug.
“I don’t even know what happens. I mean it’s just an idea.”
I was late out of the gate, starting on November 5th. For a few days, I juggled 400 words at a pop and questioned the point. And then: BOOM.
I got it. I got what NaNoWriMo is really about. And no, it’s not a contest. And no, it’s not about discipline and it’s most certainly not about perfection. It’s about opening the door wide. And in the process of opening that door, you need to slam your inner critic hard against the other wall. (Mine left a long lipstick streak down the door jamb before she fell unconscious.)
And when that door is open, well that is when the story happens.
As of today, I’ve got 20,000 words. And while it it’s pretty unlikely I’ll win NaNoWriMo this year, I have to say I’ve already won. I’ve got a story that’s making me breathless and I can’t wait to finish it. And the fact I won’t get done by November 30th isn’t because it’s not there—it’s because there’s not just enough time. So when November goes and December comes, I expect to be still happily click-clacking away on Best Friends for Never.
Congratulations to all of those who have completed NaNoWriMo and to any and all that have taken the challenge. Best of luck in taking your novel to the next step. And to those writers who always put entering NaNoWriMo right up there with pushing a shopping cart to the top of Mount Everest, consider this: what have you got to lose?