It’s nine days until the end of the month, and as I expected, I’m behind.
By the end of today, according to the handy meter on the NaNoWriMo website, I should be at 35,000 words. This is about 6,000 words higher than my current word count of 28,824. Luckily, we’ve rolled into the weekend, when I always manage to get more writing done. (I was 3,000 words in the hole last weekend, and I managed to pull up even, only to fall behind again. Quel surprise.) And then there’s the Thanksgiving holiday ahead, when I will be thankful for two additional uninterrupted days (interrupted only by mashed potatoes and pie, of course) to crank out more words.
I’ve read blog posts and comments about this “contest” (it’s more of a drive, I suppose, since there are no prizes and the race in the end is only with yourself) from people saying, on the one hand, that it helps aspiring writers become actual writers by getting them over the hurdle of their editorial ear which is always stopping them before they even start. Also, for people like me without an agent, an editor, or a contract (not that I’m complaining, it’ll come in time), it provides a handy deadline to keep you from dithering.
And boy, do I dither, but more on that later.
Anyway, the other camp (and I’ve heard these comments in my writing group as well) says that it encourages writers to just throw any old thing on the page or the screen, whether it’s crap or not, and it’s most likely crap.
I guess in response to that criticism, I could only say, have you ever read a first draft that wasn’t crap?
I prefer to consider it a teaching moment. (I have taken a shine to that phrase recently, “teaching moment,” and I don’t know why. It sounds a bit condescending, doesn’t it? Oh well, I still like it.) Writing is hard work. Cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days is not impossible, but it requires momentum, dedication, and persistence. To anyone who thought it would be easy, let that be a lesson to you.
(And to anyone who finds that it IS easy, please, just keep it to yourself for now so that I won’t seethe with envy.)
By the end of the month I don’t expect to have a completed, polished novel. Good heavens, I don’t even expect to have a completed, crappy first draft done. I hope (fingers crossed here) that I will have dumped from my brain onto the screen 50,000 words of scenes, dialogue, ideas, and outlines that I’ll be able to set aside and let percolate while I go back to the third draft of the first novel—which has taken me five years of work to get to its current stage. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks it can be done in a month.