Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Musings: Why NaNoWriMO 2010?

As some may have noticed I’m a bit scarce of late. I have a reason. I’m participating in Nano this month. It’s my first time of doing so officially.

I’ve had to make adjustments to accomplish the goal. Nano certainly cuts into any spare time, like reading the blogs I follow, reading books for reviews—although I’ve been cutting back on those anyway—and other things I enjoy doing. I haven’t removed those things from my life; just modified the time I spend on them, like commenting on or reading links I’d normally enjoy reading. Sometimes I’m a day late, or commenting late night.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy Nano as much as I have. I’ve heard the plusses and minuses of doing Nano, but like anything, you get out what you put in and “it” depends largely on what your goals are. If I make the 50k, and I’ll give it my best to do so, fine. If I don’t, I’m not going to beat myself up.

My past year has been hard emotionally. Losing my brother knocked me flat and dealing with the grief seemed to suck the creativity right out of me. All my emotion was involved with my loss and helping my family dealing with the same. I had none left over for much else.

Plus, I had to deal with a major case of ‘who the hell cares’ and a great reluctance to do anything that required too much effort. Especially on an emotional level. For sure, I had lost my writing routine. Early mornings have always been my most productive time. It became hit and miss because I stayed up too late and slept late. I had also lost my joy of daily writing and I must have had a dozen stories started and abandoned. I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for what I was writing. Somehow, I had become way too wrapped up in being perfect—nothing puts a stop on story flow like perfectionism. It all left me with a feeling of failure and kinda like a part of me had been amputated.

Which brings me to the why of Nano.

It's not a contest for me, a mad dash to see who can get the most words on paper so to speak. While I do like the challenge of being part of a group focusing on writing and reaching a deadline, it’s not at the expense of writing a good story. For me, that would be a waste of time.

My main goals with Nano are,

  • a) regain my daily writing routine and discipline,
  • b) regain my focus and joy of writing, and
  • c) get a story I’ve wanted to write for some time, down on paper. One that I started to research before my brother died.

I really like how focused I am. If I'm not physically writing my mind is writing and thinking about what's next. Nano is helping me not to worry too much about the mechanics of the writing as much as revel in the joy of the story unfurling. Seeing my research ideas transformed into a story that is alive and breathing. Having three-dimensional characters living and interacting in a world I’ve created piece by piece so it’s real. Best of all, there’s real emotion in my writing again. If I can’t feel emotion how can my reader?

Another valuable lesson I see with participating in Nano is a realization that if I'm waiting for the optimum time to write, I'm never going to get it. I'm gonna always have chores, noise, and life to deal with.

Additionally, Nano is good practice for when a person is published. Writing to deadlines and allotting a schedule of writing time to meet those deadlines. I’ve written to deadlines most of my working life and it takes a certain mindset. Certainly it requires a firm grasp on what’s required to achieve the deadline. Few writers can retire from being a spouse, parent, and money earner to write full time. Oh, maybe in a perfect world, lol! Reality is any writing that’s done is merely a task added to the existing routine. Even when you can write full time without an outside job, you still are going to have to deal with mates and kids and all that is involved with day-to-day living. Nano gives you a taste of what it could be like.

All in all, I'm so glad I signed up for Nano.

  • So, who of you are (or have) participating in Nano? Why did you decide to sign up? Any lessons learned you’d like to share?

Up coming guests: Wednesday, Alexandra Ivy, and on Friday I have Ryan O’Reilly (if that last name looks familiar there’s a good reason for that).
So be sure to check back.

Meanwhile, happy writing! I will be.