Wednesday, January 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo Promises and How to Keep Them

NaNoWriMo Promises and How to Keep Them
By Elizabeth K. Barone
Written on Nov. 23, 2009

We're almost to the end of November. Where did this month go? I mean, really? Because it feels like just yesterday I sat down and wrote the first sentence of my novel. And now it's November??

Are you panicking? I am. I'm panicking because my real goal looms ahead. See, it isn't about the word count for me, though that did spur me on for a while. I raced in a mad dash to get to 50,000, sprinting against my good friend Jess. We cheered each other on. We bragged when we got ahead. We lamented over writers' block, wayward characters, and boring plots. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, "Just get to 50k. Just do it, and finishing the book will be easy."

You see, dear NaNo-accomplice, my goal wasn't just to write 50,000 words. No, that would be too easy. I've done it before. I wanted to do something harder: FINISH THE DARN THING. My problem is that I never finish what I start. I have one complete novel that will never get edited. I have another that is about 3/4 finished. Another is almost at the halfway point. Yet another book begs to be written, because I already know the beginning, middle, end, and everything in between. It just has to be written. And all of my short stories? Well, some of them are finished, and others are in limbo, screaming as the plasma below them lashes up and threatens to suck them into the abyss forever!

Oh. Right. Back to Earth.

So my goal this month was not only to get to 50k, but also to finish the novel. There have been days when I didn't feel like writing, but for the most part, I spent the last two weeks completely focused on my book. I was enamored by it. Every time I did something other than write, all I thought about was writing. My boyfriend forgot what I looked like (but he did ask me several times a day what my word count was).

And suddenly, I'm at over 50,000 words and the sky is falling on me. Clients need websites done like yesterday, Thanksgiving looms around the corner, and some bad news has left me completely incapable of forming a coherent sentence if I think about it too much. In the back of my mind I wonder, "Can I actually finish this book right now? Will I finish it by the end of November or will it carry into December and be forgotten, doomed to forever wait in that limbo with all the plasma?"
You might be in a similar situation. Maybe your word count is kind of low, or you haven’t even started yet. You might be doubting yourself. I know I’m doubting myself!

BUT. At the beginning of this month, we made ourselves promises. Yours might have been to get anything down, or maybe to get to 50,000 words. Maybe you wanted to just write a novel, and didn’t give a hoot about the word count. Whatever that promise—that goal—might have been, we made a commitment. And darn it, we’re going to see it through! So take some time to remind yourself of that commitment, and remind yourself why you made it. We can get back on track—all we need is a little reminder.

Elizabeth K. Barone spends all of her earnings from building websites on books, McDonald's fries (with sweet 'n sour sauce for dipping, please), nerdy gadgets, and other necessities such as chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. In her free time, she can be found writing, sleeping, and working some more.

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