NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is November. The rules are as follows: come up with a new story idea and write 50k words about it in a month, comprising a novel. That’s a lot of writing. I’ve seen people beg off their social lives or other commitments to make this happen, and sometimes I feel like they were due that alone time! Friends have raved to me about NaNo teaching them discipline and project management. There are some great support networks out there.
It’s tons of fun to knuckle down and DO THE THING sometimes, and having a supportive community makes NaNo enjoyable for lots of people. The majority of NaNo projects never go beyond the writer, never get revised or edited. And that’s cool. The writer can hold that draft close to his or her chest, lock it away as a nice memory, have only their close friends read it, or attempt to go further. My writing, too, may never see the light of day, although I vow I will revise the bejeezis (sic) out of it because I feel like I owe it to the story. The existence of NaNo somehow makes me feel more sanguine about this.
I write 10k per month. I consider that a lot to juggle with my job, spending time with friends and my partner, and getting enough rest to stay human. I honed project management and discipline in the crucible of graduate school. There I had my studies to consume me, and my thesis/project was the center of it. If I’m going to devote myself to a creative endeavor that hard, it must be the center of my life, and I can’t do that right now. I work at a steady pace, and pushing myself tends to lead to burnout.
That said, there’s still the temptation to push somewhat at something I am already working on. This would put me in the NaNo Rebels group, who don’t follow the guidelines. I don’t know about that, though: pressuring myself to write doesn’t seem to help. Writing a little bit most nights has already made me a faster writer. The first round of edits will reveal what impact that has on the quality of my writing.
To those who are doing NaNo this year: You inspire me, and I’m cheering you on! Writing has made me appreciate reading even more. I hope it does that for you, too!