I’m sure everyone who isn’t doing NaNoWriMo wishes the rest of us would shut up about it. But it’s a bit like giving up smoking – if you tell enough people that you’re doing it, there’s a good chance that your fear of looking like a failure will get you through!
This is my second Nano, and like some women say of childbirth, you somehow forget the pain when you have the bundle of joy in your arms and before you know it, you’re planning your next. I obviously forgot the pain when I signed up again this year, so let me just get this down on record (in case I take a fit and decide to do this again next year) IT’S TORTURE! And it’s bloody relentless too. You’ve just started congratulating yourself on today’s hard earned word count, when it’s morning again and you’re faced with another 1,600 word target. (And that’s if you haven’t fallen behind).
I’m sure there are worse things in life, and I could be accused of being melodramatic, but arriving at that blank screen with the pressure to keep up with the ever-increasing graph line, starts to feel like cutting yourself open and squeezing out something that you hope will resemble prose. Every word sounds clunky and clichéd and you often have to look away as you type, so you won’t be tempted to call the ‘Writing Police’ to come and lock you away for your own safety, as well as that of your readers.
But then, something clicks – a new character arrives, a plot twist just appears from nowhere, or a beautiful scene practically writes itself and you think – ‘Hey! This could be my greatest work to date! I’ve SO got this.’ And all of a sudden – Nano is the best thing ever invented! Writing is a pleasure again and you find yourself with a rather smug look on your face, as you fill the silence with that glorious sound of your fingertips tapping the keys at a jaunty pace. Until tomorrow morning when the process starts all over again.
To say Nano is an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement – and this is just week one! But to be honest, that’s what writing is. It’s a hard, long, slow slog and your harshest critic is all you have for company. Nano just condenses the process, which can really test your commitment and your resolve, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to get that awkward first draft down on paper. I heard someone describing it as clay. These 50,000 words are clay that can be moulded into a novel and for that, Nano is a really useful tool. I have been researching, dreaming, and sketching this novel for 10 months now. The theme is very dear to me and I think I became so fixated on getting it right, that I couldn’t get it written. Nano has removed all sentimentality and required me to just write and keep writing. If you enjoy a challenge and find yourself oddly motivated by feelings of guilt and insecurity, then Nano is for you! Because, despite all of my giving out, I know I will be so happy to have my little bundle of clay at the end of it. But if I even hint that I might sign up for this next year – please refer me to this post! Roll on week two!