Technically, I lost at NaNoWriMo. Winning is completing 50,000 words in a month. I did not do that.
Most things in life aren’t “win or lose.” The concept is still important, but for me the act of doing this was its own reward. Honestly, I could have been more diligent. Preparation helps. Also, when sitting down to do a thing there can be a million and one distractions.
Last month wasn’t throwaway. I more consider it an important exercise in an activity that brings me joy. For much of this blog and in life I have spent the majority of my focus on writing nonfiction. Writing a story reminds me of childhood. It’s the ability to play with story, characters and ideas.
It’s like art – when you’re five, everyone’s an artist. When you’re young you learn the basic elements of story. When you’re in school everyone’s expected to write. At some point writing becomes a burden over being a joy. Writing a story “just for fun” as an adult can be liberating.
Here are a few of the other things that I learned over the course of November:
I can write from anywhere on almost any device.
Some days I wrote on my phone while chasing after two boys. I like the idea of doing this – my smartphone is full of “time wasters.” Even if I’m moving one sentence at a time, I have the ability to add to a body of work I’m proud of.
Some days I wrote from coffee shops on my laptop. I loved this because I was out and around people. It gave me a focus and sometimes added to my work.
Some days, I wrote in a paper journal or on napkins or random papers I could find. This was both an act in gathering ideas and sometimes I find that actually writing the words from hand to pen to paper helps.
It’s fun to bring people on the journey (even if they do it better).
I have a draft to read. A good friend of mine, one many miles away, did this too. I’m eager to read his story. I’m eager to see what his ideas were. I tend to keep my writing close to my chest. The friends I made in November were so much more generous with their ideas and their thought process. I’m working my way up to that. Right now documenting the journey was more important than “the thing” (especially because it’s not finished yet). Another new friend finished his novel as well. I’m proud of them both and more importantly I’m grateful for the connections we made with each other. It’s really awesome, when you’re doing a thing, to collaborate with others. It’s also really awesome to all be geeking out over the same thing.
This draft I wrote will be one of many.
50,000 words is a short novel. Mostly, at the end of November you have a short draft (unless of course you go above and beyond). I still want to complete this novel and I want to write other things as well. My parents were incredibly supportive of my creative endeavors growing up. They never questioned my artistic pursuits. At the time I couldn’t see a way to make it work. I heard many times that if you have a “Plan B” you’ll end up using it when the work gets too hard. Creativity will never be my “Plan B.” Even still – we as creators, artists, writers need to find concrete ways to hold ourselves accountable.
Don’t be like me (in this moment). Don’t say you’re going to do something or that you’re working on something and let it go. Write your novel if it needs to be written. Commit to doing something creative regardless of where you’re at.