Well, here we are again, ladies and gentlemen and all things in between! November looms ahead, and with it, the trial by fire we all as writers go through at some point or another: National Novel Writing Month.
I have had several failed attempts at NaNoWriMo. Well, failed if you take it straight at its face value, that you either arrive in December with a rough draft of a manuscript or die trying. I like to consider them successes. The year I only wrote around ten thousand words? That was the month I wrote ten thousand more than the month before, so I counted it as a small success. The year I first attended a Write In event, and pushed that ten thousand to twenty five? Yeah, technically, I still failed, but I considered it a huge success in figuring out what helps me produce more words.
This year, I’m taking a different approach to the usual routine. I’m going to try looking at NaNoWriMo as a chance to create not necessarily a rough draft of a manuscript, but a set of good habits. I’m starting to see that, at least for me, NaNo is less about what you’re writing, and more about the fact that you’re writing. It’s about the communal pressure – and support! – to write every single day. It might not always be on a fresh manuscript idea. It might not always be on the same concept. But as long as I’m writing every day, I’ll consider it a success towards building good writing habits.
I’ll be looking at building the following rules into my daily routine:
- Write. Might be 50 words, might be 5000. But every day, put something down in writing.
- It’s okay to switch focus. I’m one of those people with a ton of half-cocked projects at any given time. And a lot of my motivation comes from idle daydreaming and brainstorming I do while doing non-writey tasks like housework and my Day Job™. So I need to grant myself the freedom to write what I’m feeling that particular day. Otherwise, I won’t write anything at all.
- It’s okay to produce bad writing. I’m the sort of person whose procrastination somewhat stems from perfectionism. It can’t be done until it can be done perfectly. And as anyone who’s written anything knows, your first draft, without fail, is garbage. So I’ve been trying to learn that it’s okay to screw up. It’s okay to do a bad first job. It’s okay, because it’s gonna get revisited.
So, like all my other NaNo attempts, I probably won’t emerge with a finished rough draft. But hopefully I will come out with some solid writing habits that will produce many rough drafts, and revisions, and blog posts, and on and on and on…