Before we delve into the culinary delights of Belgium as promised, living up to another promise is in order. I promised to push my boundaries by partaking in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is now over. So here I am recapping on how my escapade with the creative inward journey went. I set a goal of writing 50 thousand words within a month, got right down to it… and soon came to realise a few things.
First and foremost: writing is hard. You might be the most eloquent person in the world, but writing is much more than putting words on paper. It needs discipline. It needs structure. Very few are capable of sitting down in front of an empty sheet of paper or blank computer screen, write ad hoc without a plan and birth a masterpiece. I’m not one of those people. So accepting and expecting something less than a masterpiece is the first step. I started NaNoWriMo to support a talented fellow writer, but enthusiasm on its own however proved insufficient for success. I had the basic story idea, the characters in mind, even scene ideas, but no concrete plot hashed out. Hence my initial idea has changed and evolved, then changed and evolved more and most of my first scenes ended in the bin. Which is natural. And okay. And somewhat annoying.
Creating a writing habit is demanding. It’s easy to say you commit yourself fully, but a month of writing will interfere with your daily life, that much I can promise, especially if you’re doing this while holding down a full time job. To complete the 50 thousand words you need to write 1.670 words each and every day. And I do mean every day. If you want to take days off, plan ahead, e.g. write more on weekends.
Having a structure helps. The outline won’t add to your word count (unless you cheat a bit), but creating your storyline in advance will ease the process considerably, and will help you realise if something doesn’t work ahead of time. I wrote over 15 thousand words in the end, but most of those went into the mythology, the storyline and the character bios. I could have accomplished much more with careful preparation. Than again 15 thousand words is more than I expected, and is far from a fail.
And several weeks of writing has more than downsides. Like I said it’s an inward journey, and a wonderful one at that. Creating a writing habit is a lot of work, but also tremendous amount of fun. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and about what type of writer you are, if you’re not afraid of it. Are you a post-it plotter, a “whim-writer” like me, or a skilled schemer? Or maybe a master multi-tasker or a proficient procrastinator? Whichever tape you belong to, writing will change you. Doing it excessively will provide you with a new perspective. You’ll catch yourself eavesdropping on conversations, taking notes, and thinking of potential plot twists while at work. You’ll get to live in an imaginary world, whether writing fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction or romance, your story will envelope you, challenge you and keep you entertained all the time. Your characters will become your friends, they’ll know your deepest secrets and you’ll know theirs. Up for the challenge?
Any advice you ask? Try it. Join up next November. Bask in your own ingenuity, let those creative juices flowing. Write the book you’d want to read and enjoy every minute of it. Make it fun.
Did you partake? If so, how did you do?
If not, I hope you’ll join me next year. Leave a comment below.