My NaNoWriMo Word Update And An Observation About The Freedom Of Deadlines

November 14, 2018

Fraidy watches a bird out the front window

Hey y'all, it's me!

Just a quick update on my challenge word count.

As of last night, when I finally shut down the laptop (and put that sucker away--I did NOT want to see a keyboard any more until today), I had written 4,669 words in one day, the most I have done in a day during this insanity known as National Novel Writing Month.

My grand total as of last night was 32,009 words.

I am  three fifths of the way to my goal of 50,000 words.

I have never gotten this far in writing a novel before. I have always gotten great 'what if' ideas, even gone so far as to write down the first scene. Yet I could never get the rest of the story, it would just peter out.

I have had scads of time to write before, yet I never did much. I have written blogs, poems, essays, a couple of short stories, and so forth. The blogs posts are easy, because I know that I must produce a post every week on certain days, so I buckle down and do it. Poem are easy, because I have a natural talent for rhythm and a love for words that rhyme (come on, what's not to love about being able to rhyme the word purple with hirple? Or knowing that there is a guy out there who actually worked really hard to create words--and their definitions--that will rhyme with orange?

The short stories were forced on me by classes I had to take, but I enjoyed them. I wrote a few news stories as a journalist, but my real love was taking photos or writing editorials.

But a novel?

Honestly, I think I was too scared to try. Hey, YOU try staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank screen, with that little sinister blinking place holder, just...blinking, mocking me and waiting for me to be so foolish as to try typing in the words that could turn into a novel. (too melodramatic, I know)

But then comes along NaNoWriMo, and 'POOF'!

All my excuses go out the window.

 Here comes a deadline. This deadline doesn't care that I am terrified to fail and look foolish if I can't finish the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn't care that Thanksgiving is in the third week of NaNoWriMo, or that my church is having a Thanksgiving meal the Sunday before the actual holiday, and that I have to cook for both events. It doesn't care that I am tired and my neck and shoulders hurt from sitting at the keyboard and typing for three hours straight. The deadline just stands there at the finish line, waiting for me to either get there to it or quit and walk away. The deadline just doesn't care if I win or lose.

Talk about liberating!

I don't have time to be critical of what I am writing, so I don't think it's not good enough to continue. I don't have to go back and rewrite a plot point because I changed the race of a character hallway through the story because it made more sense to have them be white and blond--that is what the editing and rewriting  phase is for. I only have to write 50,000 words in some basic sensible arrangement. In reality, a person only needs to write 1,667 words a day to finish the challenge on time.

Is this novel going to be a masterpiece of literature when I get to 50,000 words?

Are you nuts? NO!

What I will end up with is a first draft of a story that may go on to be the framework that I can build upon, rewrite at LEAST one more time, and eventually polish into a small jewel worth being read and enjoyed by others.

I will forever be grateful to NaNoWriMo for the change that has happened to my writing. It's like a switch got flipped in my brain, and now I am writing an actual story that people may want to read someday.

I am having fun, I am playing with words and ideas, without worrying about whether anyone else may ever see them. This is for me. When my characters began running off in another direction than I thought they should go, I didn't have time to be frustrated and pout because they weren't playing by my rules. Instead I quickly learned to run after them, shouting, "HANG ON, I AM COMING!" as I type furiously, trying to keep up with them.

I am developing a writing habit, creating disciplines that will continue to serve me after the challenge is over. I am getting a real life lesson in Parkinson's Law, that says,

"work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"

All the times that I had no deadlines to write caused me to put off putting down anything, because, well, I had plenty of time. Now however, I only have 30 days to reach my goal, and I can only write so long each day. So I write for a designated time, along with short bursts of writing throughout the rest of the day.

It is working.

Well, I have at least 2,000 words to write today. Later y'all.
© Evelyn Edgett 2018


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