Well, here is it: 1st November. The starting date of National Novel Writing Month and the panic stricken typing by international writers galore who aim to cram 50,000 words of something akin to a novel into just 30 days of madness.
It’s started and I love the adrenaline it gives me knowing that I am one of hundreds of thousands taking part!
So, I’ve been neglecting writing, the blog, planning etc. for a few days now, ever since I completed last year’s draft novel on Sunday. I probably should have revised my NaNo plot, re-read my chapter synopses and refreshed my memory of all my characters…but I didn’t. I took three days off as ‘holiday’ and am now jumping right back into the deep end by starting NaNoWriMo with gusto and (over)-confidence.
You see, the thing is: this is my second year. I know what is expected of me and I also know, given last year’s triumph, that I can do it. So the pressure is on. I understand what I’m getting myself in to and I’ve chosen to do it all again. While that’s great for my own character building, it is also quite nerve-racking because – what if I fail this year? Does that mean 2011 was just a fluke? Will I be able to stick with it as I did last year? How would I feel if I didn’t manage the word count everyday and get so far behind that there is just no catching up?
Well – that’s the point isn’t it? Having proved I can do it last year – I now have to succeed again simply because I know it’s possible. Last year there were no expectation, no judgement, no enquiries from friends of colleagues about how I was doing because I entered the month thinking ‘I’ll just give it a go, see what happens’ and so I didn’t tell anyone but the necessary (just my fiancé whom I live with and would have noticed my strange outbursts of joy when I managed to write 1667 words everyday!).
This year is different because I was so proud of my achievement last year I’ve foolishly bandied it around that I’m attempting it again! Of course, that pressure could be good. Last year I did it entirely for myself, to prove that I could be a writer and accomplish something I thought improbable – like writing 50,000 words in a month. This time, everyone knows I’m taking part and that extra bit of encouragement and support might be needed to get me through the huge expectation I am placing on myself by entering a second year running.
Fortunately, one of my better traits is that I’m determined (on a bad day that means stubborn!). Therefore, if there is even a slight chance that I can make it to a win this year, then I’m going to do it. And, having done it in 2011 followed by the completion of that novel just a few days ago I am now sharply aware that at the moment my chances of reaching that 50k target are a lot bigger than ‘slight’.
- A year ago writing 1667 words in a day was a huge ask. Now it just seems like a decent total that I can tap out in around an hour or so provided I know what I’m supposed to be writing.
- A year ago I had no idea what to do when I hit a wall and got stuck. Now I know that this stems from me needing to review my plot and character motivations and clarify exactly what it is I’m trying to say and where I need to get them to in order to carry on.
- A year ago I didn’t quite believe that I could write a whole novel. Now I’ve got my first ever first draft finished and waiting for me to edit and re-write when I’ve completed NaNoWriMo.
- A year ago I was terrified of telling people I was a writer because I didn’t feel I wrote often, or regularly, enough. Now I am a writer; writing almost everyday with a clear vision of what I’m contributing to and the stories I want to tell.
A lot has changed since last year. And hopefully these changes mean that I am now suitably equipped not just to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo but also to take the words created there and sculpt them into a readable text that might, one day, become that novel I dream of being published.
Yes: I have high expectations for myself. But, if I don’t strive for the vast expanse of the skies above, who else will try and catch me that star I’m aiming for?