Stumped for what to write about at this time of night (or morning, I should say )after a busy day (No, make that busy week! Make that busy month…busy summer…busy life?), I checked out Freshly Pressed and stumbled upon a NaNoWriMo category of posts. Reading about people’s feelings leading up to November 1st is quite amusing – right now most of the soon-to-be participants seem to be in that excited yet panicked mode – dreaming about finishing, yet asking themselves “What in the world did I get myself into?!?!” Those thoughts of “It would be so cool to do this!” but then “Can I do it? 1,667 words a day – that’s insane! I can’t do that! No way!” still…”But it would be so awesome!”
Such thoughts reminded me of my own NaNoWriMo experience last year. It was my first time participating, and my first time winning. I was pretty impressed that I managed to finish it, let me tell you. There were times when I was sure it wasn’t going to happen. But I tend to work well under pressure, and short-term deadlines are a challenge I enjoy for the most part (I still haven’t figured out how to handle long-term deadlines).
So what did NaNoWriMo do for me? I think it did something very valuable for me. It pushed me past that editing-before-I-even-write-something-down stage. Past the point of staring at the blinking cursor on the screen, waiting for the ideal arrangement of words to enter my mind. It made me move my fingers and just put something on the page, even if it didn’t sound perfect the first time. It taught me how to write a first draft.
What were my favorite tools for getting me through it? yWriter software and my Charlie Brown Christmas cd. The software was great for writing whatever scenes I had the most inspiration for at the moment and the cd was great for providing the perfect background music – enjoyable melodies in a smooth jazz style that’s just enough so that it helps you shut out the background noise, but not enough to distract. It’s about the only jazz that I like, but I wish I could find more like it to listen to while I’m writing the rest of the year.
How did I feel upon completing NaNoWriMo? Surprised. Excited. Thankful. Ready to enjoy life again. And, not long after, my usual sense of “Well, that’s done, now what’s next?” My only regret is not having been able to complete my story in 50,000 words. I have a beginning and a final scene, but no real middle. I have plans for a revision though – someday.
Thus, as I look upon the crowd of eager, expectant NaNoers in these days before November, it is with a feeling of a veteran of war, who carries with him the knowledge of the triumphs and challenges of war – the exhilaration of victory and the despair of possible defeat – as he looks on a group of soldiers ready to go into battle, either again or for the first time – all with that feeling of anticipation, the excitement of “What If?” – knowing that he has taken his turn in the battle field, and it is no longer his battle to fight. He’s been in the thick of things, but now he’s on the outside, looking in. (Yes, I just seriously over-dramatized this – it’s almost 1 A.M., bear with me.)
So, to all the 2012 NaNoWriMo-ers out there, I wish you Godspeed and good writing. Although your excitement fills me with nostalgia, I will not be joining you this year, as I have had my fill of writing under pressure this month with my self-inflicted Post-a-Day challenge and am hoping to a) enjoy November this year, and b) start working on something to actually publish. I look forward to hearing of your progress in the coming weeks. Don’t read The Elements of Style before you start and your conscience will bother you much less about all that word padding!