Hello and good weekday to you! Yes, I am alive.
Sadly, as you may have noticed, I did not post my book haul post on Sunday. Nor did I post for WeWriWa. No, I have not abandoned you guys. There was a problem with the shipping, and the books that were supposed to arrive on Saturday arrived today. (Shame on you, UPS. Shame on you.) Anyways, it has all come to a happy end, as the last of twenty (TWENTY!!) books arrived in the mail today. Yes, I said twenty. No, I usually do not get that many books. Yep, I’ll be posting my book haul sometime soon. Just not today (or tomorrow).
For now, we talk about the villain of the noveling world. Worse than plot bunnies? you say. Yes, my dear friends. Worse than plot bunnies. (Though possibly an offshoot as they interbred with other noveling horrors).
My friends, we are talking about TIME. (Or, rather, quite a large lack of it.)
NaNoWriMo, is, quintessentially, getting you to put more time into your writing. In just two weeks, we’ll be taking the training wheels off of our bikes. We will all be venturing into the (for some of us, at least) unknown: nearly 2,000 words of writing a day. And we don’t get extra hours added on to our lives.
I don’t know about you, but my day passes like this:
And it doesn’t normally include writing. So when you ask me to suddenly add in 2,000 words a day I kind of just go:
It’s sort of like hopping on a bike and having the training wheels disappear halfway along the route.
NaNoWriMo has had many pep-talkers, who supposedly are offering NaNoWriMo advice, simply say, “Well, take off what can go from your schedule and replace it with writing time.”
Quite unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
If your schedule is anything like mine, it’s jam-packed. It’s back-to-back classes (or work) with extracurriculars (or more work) and homework that keeps you up till 2 AM (or even more work). It’s work X3. The “thing that can go” is probably you checking Twitter on the toilet for five minutes (and let’s face it, this can’t really go, because it’s the only thing keeping you the slightest bit sane). The fact is, we’re not professional writers. Most of us have jobs or school or some other sort of responsibility. We don’t have 24/7 to write. It’s probably something actually important to our existence that’s keeping us from writing, not Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Chances are, something can’t go.
So the question remains: how to do NaNoWriMo if you don’t have enough time?
We are not wizards. We can’t wave a magic wand or flip a Time-Turner. We are not Time Lords, or demigods, or Erudites. But I’ll tell you what we are: Brave. Imaginative. Extraordinary. Awesome (well, I had to throw it in there, didn’t I?). And a tad bit crazy.
The fact that you are a writer is extraordinary. You’ve committed to writing 2K a day with that crazy, work X3 schedule. You’re brave. You might fail. I’m not telling you that you’re going to win NaNoWriMo. Only about 13.7% of writers clock in with 50K under their belt on November 30th.
But wait, you say, you were here to encourage us. You were here to offer us tips on writing our wonderful, zeroth draft through this crazy program run by odd vikings called NaNoWriMo.
Yes, and no. I’m here to offer you the truth. What I’ve learned from my own experiences and seen from others.
And the truth is this: there is no way to conjure up time with a magic wand. Time is time, and as writers, we have to trust ourselves. If we truly want this, if we really love our craft, we will do it. We will find time. Just five or six minutes a day. Maybe just 200 words instead of 2,000.
The best piece of advice I can offer you is this: The number of words you write, or the time you spend, or that shiny winner’s web badge you get is not a measure of your worth as a writer. You are the measure of your worth as a writer.
Not everybody will be able to write 1,667 words a day for 30 days straight. It’s just not possible. I haven’t made it every time. Sometimes, not even close. But the reason I did NaNoWriMo all those years ago, and the reason I’m still doing it today, is because it motivates me. It challenges me. It tells me to prove to it that I am a writer.
And every year I do my best to show it that.
Sure, it’ll be more wobbly. Yes, we’ll fall more. But we need to learn to get up, brush ourselves off, and try again. Because, in the end, riding a bike without training wheels is so much more rewarding than riding a bike with them.
So what are you waiting for, novelist?
Hop on that two-wheeler bike with that work X3 day in the basket, and just go. Because even if you never reach the finish line, you still, and always will be, a writer.