Monday, November 13, 2006


The message boards and the blogs of NaNo participants are filled with messages of doubt, worry, and anxiety, mixed in with the positive emotions of a good, productive day. This thing seems to be knocking everyone on their collective ass, then helping them up so it can knock them down again. I've been feeling pretty crappy about my work itself (if not my actual progress) for the last couple of days.

So I'm back to trying to look within myself for an answer to the following questions: What am I hoping to get out of NaNoWriMo? Is it worth it to work this hard on something that may not have legs enough to ever be able to stand up on its own? Is the writing of 50,000 words as an exercise alone worth the amount of time and energy and emotional yo-yoing it seems to bring?

I have a clear advantage over most of my fellows in this exercise in that I've cleared my calendar of literally everything else through the end of the month. I have the luxury of being able to edit my work as I go along, since I am writing (or at least thinking about the story and what to write next) for more or less the entirety of each day. Most of the writers won't be able to look back on their stuff until after the month is gone. Which, now that I think about it, may actually be a blessing, since a big chunk of my rethinking is based on rereading and finding problems.

I took a break on Saturday night and wrote a short story. It reads a bit like a college creative writing assignment, pretentious and thick. While I was writing it, however, I found I could control the language better than I probably could have previously. I could control the story better, too. It's still pretty much crap, but it's better crap than I would have produced even a week or two ago. Perhaps this is what NaNo is for. The tiny improvements to writing as a whole that come from doing it all the time.

Every writing teacher ever born says that the only way to get better as a writer is to write. Obviously having a bit of talent probably would also help. But to write this much, consistently over a period this long, I imagine it also would help to enjoy the writing of your project. And at the moment I don't.

But I'll keep plugging away, because I really don't know what else to do. And maybe, somewhere in there, I'll start to truly enjoy it again, like I have during the brief periods so far when I have felt inspired.

A little side note: the counter in my sidebar turns out to be woefully inaccurate. Not in my word count, but in the estimated daily goal it posts. If it were accurate, November would have 40 days. I consulted my calendar and it does not. So the actual target for today should be 21,671, which puts me tremendously far behind again.


CC2383 said...

Don't be sad! Go back to the NaNoWriMo website and read what it's supposed to be about again. No infact read this, I pulled it from their website...

"Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

Stop with the perfectionism and just ENJOY the writing.

Julia Buckley said...

I'm having exactly the same thoughts and feelings about NaNo. (Well, probably not exactly the same - that would be very weird - but definitely similar ones.)

I wish I could leave some magic words here that'd make it easier. But I reckon there's nothing anyone else can say that you don't already know. You know it's worth persevering with this and you know you can do it if you stay positive.

Tomorrow is the half-way point remember. So not too much longer to go. Then, if nothing else, we get to be very smug. And I for one intend to revel in that.

Keep churning out those magic words...

Did I really just say that? Ew.

The Moon Topples said...

CC: I think I have a problem with the concept of quantity over quality, which is just another example of how I am a bad American. But I haven't given up, because my grandmother used to have a lot of Horatio Alger books lying around.

Julia: I picture myself, years from now, sharing a dais with some big muckety-much writer with a Nobel Prize. I let him/her finish a point i disagree with, and then say: "Oh, yeah? Well did you ever finish NaNoWriMo? I didn't think so. Loser."