This Side of November

Well, Nanowrimo has come and gone. It is always such a wonderful experience. Honestly, November is one of my favorite months. It’s also usually one of my busiest months of the year. For some reason, I tend to overpack my Falls, and this year was like the extreme of that. And yet, I still finished Nanowrimo.

I make a point of doing Nano every year, even the busy ones (especially the busy ones), because it enforces so many lessons that I really always need enforced.

1. I can do anything.

Well, maybe not fly to the moon, or breath under water, but anything reasonable, I can do. I just have to decide I can, and then take the steps to make it happen. And this doesn’t just apply to me, not by a long shot. This is true for everyone. As long as you decide you can do it, you can do it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will, because the second you decide you can’t or you don’t want to, then it stops the process.

I’ve done Nano since 2005, but I’ve only “won” three times. Yes, things came up that got in my way, but I made the choice to stop working on my novel and deal with them. Which is ok. There are more important things in life than completeing a novella in 30 days. Life happens. But I’m still aware that the choice not to keep going was mine.

2. Writing isn’t always fun.

I need to be reminded of this, because, like most people, I’m a selfish creature. I like to do things when I feel like it, when they make me happy, especially “hobby” things like writing. But writing can’t just be a hobby, because its impossible to finish a substantial body of writing without going through the phases of elation, dejection, inspiration, and depression. It’s part of writing. Sometimes, I feel like the greatest writer in the world. Other times, I feel like a talentless hack. It happens. It’s natural. But if I stop because I’m feel dejected, or uninspired, then my book (shitty or not) will never get written. I can’t make it to the revision stage if I don’t have anything to revise.

3. I really do like doing this.

It’s easy, when I haven’t written anything in months (and yes, it happens), to feel like maybe I can’t really write, I don’t really want to be a writer, or I’ve lost my muse. But it’s not true. I can go without writing anyfiction for a year, and still come back ready to create again. I can pull myself up, and find new stories to tell, knew adventures to take on.

4. No first draft is perfect.

As an editor, I spend most of my time breaking manuscripts apart. It’s my job to take something that’s incomplete, unpolished, maybe even bad, and decide if I can make it into something awesome. I’m trained to look closely at pacing, characters, internal and external conflicts, and audience. But most of these things don’t matter in a rough draft, and when I’m writing myself, I have to distance my editor-self from my creator-self, and just let the story unfold.

5. Writing needs to be a priority.

This is an important one. I’m a busy person. Normally, I put of writing, unless I’m feeling particularly inspired, because I feel like it’s too much of an indulgence when I should be getting work done. But with Nanowrimo, I felt like I had permission to make it a priority. It was a commitment, just like all my other commitments, and a more time-sensitive one than some.  But if I want to make writing into a career, I can’t let this commitment stay with November. I need to make writing a daily commitment, because it’s important, and because if I don’t make time for it, it won’t get done.

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About Lucy

If you want to get fancy, Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and has a MA in Writing/Book Publishing, with a focus on Young Adult Literature, and a heaping disregard for literary snobbishness (she was an English Major–she’s seen and spouted her fair share). She works as a social media marketer, and has dabbled in developmental editing as a freelancer.
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