Two days into my Nano-esque writing for the sequel to The Admirer, I am remembering why I’m so very terrible at Nanowrimo. When comes the time to perform very intense tasks, such as writing 1667 words a day for 30 days, I suddenly develop this condition which reduces my attention span to that of a fruit fly.
Take today, for example. It’s a Saturday, I’m not working, I have plenty of time to write. I should be busy boosting up my word count, right? And what am I doing with my day instead? I’m watching The Princess Bride. I’m playing the Princess Bride video game. I’m making my grocery list for tomorrow. I am laying the ground work for the other very intense, time-consuming project of creating edits of the perfect casts of Les Misérables (yes, casts is plural, there will be at least two of them).
I’m sort of pathetic.
Here’s the thing: I am not a sprint writer, I’m a marathon writer. It’s not about writing the maximum amount of words in 30 days. (Or God forbids, in 3 days. I have a friend who did that, two months after she gave birth. She’s a lunatic.) It’s about making the time to write a little, or at all. I’ve gotten very good at making the time to write, because I made it a New Years resolution a couple of years ago, and mock me all you want, it works for me. The fiction writing has slipped to the side, giving way to journal writing for the most part, but I can get to work on that.
Another thing that Nanowrimo does to me, that is really the opposite of helpful, is make me hyper-conscious of my word count. My way of writing is I divide the story in all the parts that need to be written, and I write each part, one at a time. When I do that for Nanowrimo, I try to have 30 parts, of course. But then, I soon as I’ve written one part, I start doing the math, the calculate the full word count by extension. I tend to be pretty much to the point, when I write, and my word count is therefore on the low side. The Admirer, at last count, was just under 43 000 words. The sequel isn’t lining up to be much higher. That’s the current average word count for a middle grade book. It’s ridiculous, and again, sort of pathetic. When I’m writing on my own, I can ignore the word count until the first draft is finished, at the very least. But since Nano is all about the word count …
I’ve first attempted Nanowrimo in 2007. I’ve had plenty of time to learn all the things I’ve just told you, and indeed I learned those things a long time ago. So how did I let myself get suckered this year, you ask?
I wanted the excuse the get back into fiction writing, is the main reason. But there is the not insignificant factor of all my friends who are doing Nanowrimo and they are all like “come on, do it, it’s fun!” Writing is fun. Nano is just a lot of stress.
But what the hell, I said I would do it, I might as well give it a try. And in the end, I’ll have a very rough, ridiculously short draft for my sequel to The Admirer. And maybe by next year, I’ll have the willpower to say to myself and to my friends: “no, that is not for me.”