NaNoWriMo: One Week Down, Three to Go

Well, the first week of NaNoWriMo is behind me. The first couple days, as I successfully wrote my target word count (about 1700), walked my dog, did some freelance work, made it to work on time, continued to plan my wedding, AND made progress on the anthology I’m editing, I thought, “Hey, nothing to this! I’m going to be just fine!”

By the end of the week, I remembered, “Oh yeah — I have to keep up this pace all month long.”

So far, I’ve written at my kitchen table, on my couch, in a random library in South Dakota, at a coffee shop, at the library where I work, and at my fiance’s half-finished house. This week, I plan to expand those locales to an airplane and a hotel room in Florida. I’ve fueled my writing with Powerbars, green tea, coffee, and Starbursts. And although I’m already exhausted, I’m grateful for the reminder NaNo gives me that, when there’s a will, there’s a way. There are so many excuses not to write, but in my performance-obsessed little finisher brain, during NaNo I make writing a priority and I find a way to make it work. No, I can’t keep up this pace all year long. But what I can do is remember how I managed to steal half an hour here, twenty minutes there, to write. And hopefully, I will keep doing that. Because if nothing else, NaNo at least makes me feel like a real writer.

My intention was to be a little more relaxed about NaNo this year, but so far, that ain’t really happening. I went to my first write-in last weekend, and found myself annoyed that most of the participants sat around talking about their novels instead of writing them (so I sequestered myself at the bar and kept driving toward that word count.) But I did have a virtual write-in with the friend who convinced me to do NaNo this year, and I exchanged several emails with another friend who is trying it for the first time. And since then, I’ve wondered if those folks who annoyed me at the coffee shop had something right. For a lot of people, NaNo is about the shared experience more than the word count. I’ve never been a social writer, but one thing I want to learn this November is to let go just a little bit. I’ve successfully been able to let go of the desire for perfection that keeps many people’s word counts low, I’ve successfully been able to embrace the mantra of “quantity not quality.” But next, I want to find a way to hold this “driven-ness” that overtakes me during NaNo a little more lightly, so that I might, once in a while, choose sitting around to chat over my word count. And so, at the end of it all, I can feel both accomplished and sane. A girl can dream!