There are no prizes for NaNoWriMo winners, so what do writers get out of it? Bragging rights, a 50,000-word novel that may or may not suck eggs, and a month of pulling out our hair, to start.
It's the drill–basic training for published life–because I'm sure NaNo is nothing compared to the pressure of fulfilling a contract. And arguments about quantity versus quality aside, for me, the benefit of NaNoWriMo is the forced discipline. Oh yeah, and the total recalibration of my sense of what I can do. It used to be a push to write 1000 words per day, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. Now I’m getting daily counts like 2800 and 3600.
But those numbers are a byproduct of the discipline required to make 50K in one 30-day month happen. It’s so, so easy to take all that “free” time while my kids are at school and waste it. Sleep, laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping all call to me. Okay, that’s a big fat lie, only sleep calls to me. The rest scream at me that they’ve been ignored far too long. I can tank a whole day reading email, Twitter, blog posts, craft books, and delicious new novels by my favorite authors.
All the fun things and all the the little things I must do, like work out, cook, eat, talk to my family, and walk the dog, compete with writing.
So, back to NaNo. If I want to make it, and have my Golden Heart entry ready to submit on time, I MUST sit down and write every day. And because of Thanksgiving and guests and swim meets on the weekends, I’m shooting for at least 2700 words on weekdays.
And because I removed 4400 words over the weekend (in spite of my outline, I took a wrong turn and it had to be undone), I must now write 3100 words every weekday this week. Yesterday I did it without too much trouble. A few writing sessions with my tea timer on, a quick review of my outline to keep me on track, and an understanding of how I went wrong on Friday, and I was cooking with gas.
That’s a good day. On bad days, that NaNo deadline is the drill instructor in my face. The little push I need to go further.
If I take nothing else away from NaNoWriMo, I hope I can keep this newfound discipline and sense that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. Until we have a contract and a publisher setting the deadlines for us, there’s no reason we can’t set our own. Tell your spouse, your CP, or everyone on Facebook. Then let that be the drill instructor for you. Or reward yourself with chocolate.
Either way, you can probably do a lot more than you ever dreamed.
P.S. Happy birthday to my awesome mother who would have been 62 today. She inspired me to live life based on what really matters, and I miss her every day.