November has come and gone, and if you are writerly, or readerly, you might have some idea of what November represents.
National Novel Writing Month.
A month in which hundreds of writers push themselves to write a novel in four weeks. The goal is 50 thousand words in the month. Reach the goal and you win NANO.
Now, my only gripe with NANO is who in the hell ever thought November was a good month to sit down and write without interruption? School exams? Uni exams? Diwali, Halloween, christmas cake baking and don’t forget the tree? Worst month of the year. Really.
So, did I do NANO this year? Kinda.
A group I belong to had a bunch of members with a bunch of screaming deadlines. Needless to say, I was one of them. We decided to do a mini-Nano in the hope that we will all reach our wordcount goals.
So we wrote.
And wrote some more.
And when I finally completed my project after 2 weeks of writing, I’d finished with 65k, writing 35k in 8 days. Some days I wrote 8k and some days I wrote 5k but I pushed myself and I reached my goal.
And let me just say that there is a strange mysteriousness about writing THE END. It marks the completion of the projection, the achievement of a goal, the acknowledgment that you weren’t just mucking around and that you were actually doing something with your time instead of surfing the net, or scrolling through FB.
I think finishing any project you start is a momentous thing. I still have a cross-stitch that I haven’t completed from ten years ago and it bugs me like crazy- when and if I ever find it, I swear I will finish the damn thing. Maybe frame it too.
The beauty of completing a project is that you can see for yourself that no matter how hard things get, there is nothing stopping you from reaching your goal. Nothing except you, that is.
The one thing that always gets me when writing is the 70% slump. Somewhere toward the end of the manuscript, I hit a wall. Back when I first started writing it took me weeks to get past it. But the more books I wrote, the better I got at finding ways to overcome that slump. Now my 70% slump may last an hour, if it happens at all.
Each book is different, each one is a completely unique writing experience, and what they give you is practice. You learn new techniques, you stop making old mistakes, maybe you learn to outline better, or make better notes. And, at the end of the day, you walk away with a completed novel.
What can you not do if you don’t have a completed first draft? Yup, you can’t edit it, or submit it, or publish it.
So the lesson is in the completion.
Finishing the book will give you something to edit, and to publish while you grin like a crazy person.
Finishing the book will give you writing muscles, train you better to write the next book.
Finishing the book says you can flip the bird at the naysayers and at that pesky devil on your shoulder that kept whispering in your ear that it was all just too hard.
Finishing the book will give you a sense of achievement, the feeling that yes, you are the kind of person that completes things, that can go the hard yards, that can accomplish what you set out to achieve.
And finishing the book also means you can start writing the next one 🙂
And let me add here that this doesn’t only apply to writers and writing. It’s applicable to all things in life that are difficulty to do, that take guts and stamina to achieve.
You just need a goal. And dedication.