November first. The clouds are dark grey outside my studio window. It’s been raining, snowing, and sleeting since midnight. The temperature sits at zero Celsius. Perfect weather for being inside, papers scattered across my work table, music playing counterpoint to the drip of water off the roof, writing this blog post.
It’s a perfect day for beginning Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), except this year I am not.
This is a deliberate choice.
I love doing Nanowrimo. I love writing furiously, aiming for at least 2,000 words each day. Love the focused creating. Love the feeling of a single driving purpose in a life normally split half a dozen directions. Love the community spirit, the support and mutual cheer leading. Love the feeling of entering the word count that pushes me over the 50,000 word goal. Oh yeah.
There is a good reason why I am not already in the depths of all this writing awesomeness. It’s something else I love–more writing awesomeness. It’s my book draft.
I am working through the final three chapters of Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. I have my momentum and I want to keep it. My book draft needs me.
If I shift to Nanowrimo, my creative focus completely shifts as well. I know the energy required to complete 50,000 plus words in a month, and it would leave none for my book. Nanowrimo is a demanding love.
I did Nanowrimo last year. I wrote a parallel draft for my book. I explored all the directions I didn’t take in the main draft.
It was worth spending a month discovering the words beyond the path already laid. I found writing that belonged in the main draft, filling in gaps I hadn’t noticed. I explored side paths I knew diverted the story so had ignored in the main draft. I reveled in back story that helped me understand motivations and situations.
Pausing my main draft and doing Nanowrimo last year was totally worth it. I gave myself month-long permission to experience places outside of the story. My main draft is richer as a result of the parallel draft.
Saying yes to Nanowrimo this year would take me away from where I am right now, and where I need to go next in my book draft. I need slower, more considered writing at the moment.
A ‘yes’ this year is an excuse to not work out the hard stuff on my book. It’s very appealing, and I know better. I’ve done enough excuses this year.
I do have to say, this ‘no’ feels sad. I feel like I’m missing the party.
At the same time, I feel how right my choice is. I love where I am in my draft process. I love what I have discovered and learned as I’ve worked my way. I am so very curious about what else is going to show up, as though I am reading the already published book and wondering what happens next in the story.
I feel rich in my writing life; I have more than one thing to love.
Bon voyage, all you Nanowrimo crew! May you have fair winds, full sails, and an ocean of ideas and words to play in. May you have life rafts aplenty should you need them, and a welcoming harbour when your writing reaches home at the end of the month. Save me a berth for next year.
In this post:
Nanowrimo aka National Novel Writing Month. https://nanowrimo.org/ I feel like Dr. Seuss and Willy Wonka had a hand or ten in inventing this.
Book Story Genius by Lisa Cron, Ten Speed Press, 2016. http://wiredforstory.com/story-genius-1/