So NaNoWriMo is under way and I’m sure all of you are demolishing your word count goals, right? Right? Well, for those of you who can answer in the affirmative, I offer you my congratulations.
But it has come to my attention that there are some of you who are struggling. You’ve already fallen woefully far behind in the race and it’s looking more and more like you’re not going to be able to complete things on time. It’s only a few days in, but already you’re thinking you bit off more than you could chew. 1,667 words per day? What kind of masochist would put themselves through that kind of torture?
If you’re in the second group then I’d like you offer you my congratulations as well.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Whatever, it’s not like it matters. I just can’t keep up with the rest of you speed demons. Maybe this writing thing just isn’t for me.”
Hey now, lets not hear that kind of bummery. Turn that frown upside down, fellow-writer. Actually, never mind, that sounds like it might hurt. Instead, why not flex different facial muscles in such a manner that the corners of your mouth turn up rather than down? Because I am about to impart precious nugget of writing encouragement.
Here’s the thing: not everyone writes at the same speed.
Some of you just aren’t “there” yet. When I started writing I set a goal of a thousand words a day, and those thousand words were tough. I looked at NaNoWriMo and thought, “What, are you kidding? 1,667 words every day? That…that’s impossible.” And for me, at the time, it practically would have been impossible. Maybe you’re in the same boat. Speed in writing comes with time and practice.
Some of you just don’t have the time. I know, I know, writers make time to write, and that’s all well and good, but I can testify that making that time is a whole lot harder this year than it was last year. Why? Well for one thing I’ve got foster kids now. Also, my wife isn’t working which means in order to make writing time sometimes I have to say, “No I don’t want to go down and browse though that awesome antique mall with you. Spending time with the characters in my novel is far more important than spending time with the woman I married in real life.” Add on top of all that the fact that I’m working full-time, and trying to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I can say to the writers struggling to find time out there, I feel your pain.
And some of you just aren’t cut out to write, 1,667 words per day. Which is fine. Not all writers are cut from the same mold. (For instance, I was cut from that black mold that grows on your walls, and makes you sick sometimes. Don’t bleach me bro!) Not everyone can be Steven King and churn out six pages a days. Somebody’s got to be James Joyce, and obsess over the correct order of words in a single sentence for hours. Can you imagine how he would have reacted to NaNoWriMo?
But no matter what type of writer you are, the most important thing to remember is that NaNoWriMo is a tool. It’s a source of encouragement and common energy among writers, a chance to set an audacious goal and fight to meet it. But not every tool is right for every job.
So keep on plugging. And if you can’t keep up with the rest of the speed demons out there, don’t get too discouraged.
Always remember: NaNoWriMo does not define you. One single month out of the year will not make you a writer. The true test of your mettle is what you do with the other eleven.