It’s been a little bit since I won NaNoWriMo with my word count of 50,359. I still have two or three (?) more chapters to finish my book but I will finish it. I’ve lost a little momentum due to life making writing difficult to prioritize… and there!… Did you see that?! How I tried to blame life for not writing? That is probably the number one benefit to doing NaNo. Writing WAS the priority. I could have written over the last few weeks. I chose not to.
Choice… That’s the holy grail of NaNo as far as I am concerned – I saw for myself that I do have a choice about whether or not I sit down to write. I met my NaNo goal even though I went to movies, enjoyed a social life, kept my place moderately clean and fed myself. I even went to New York. Life doesn’t get in the way of writing (or anything else I might want to do). My thoughts about what is going on in my life are what get in the way.
I discovered that I can reach a goal, even if it seems lofty. Funny because before I started, 50,000 words seemed huge! Now that I’m on the other side, I know how doable it is to write that much in what seemed like a small amount of time. Also important to note: the word “goal” has never been high on my list of faves. Not only did I make friends with goal setting, the experience has opened my mind to ask a really awesome question: if I can pull off NaNo, what else can I do? What if I decided to ________________? Well, what if I did?!
Deciding I was going to participate in NaNo and telling people about it was a blast. It made me feel like I was a warrior princess, going into word battle. That feeling was so delicious, pushing through to claim my 50,000 words was buoyed by the notion that if telling people I was doing it was fun, telling people I pulled it off would be even more awesome. Wanna know something neat? Posting on Facebook was cool. Knowing I did it – even cooler. I got to be proud of me and that is an awesome feeling, my friends. Want more of that!
Another cool by-product of NaNo is that I discovered I have the ability to focus on demand. I started timing myself – 33 minutes (I like 3s) and writing furiously for just that period of time. Then I could get up and pee or get a drink. Then check my word count and hit the timer again for another writing session. I could repeat this as many times as necessary to hit my word goal for that day. The big payoff about the timer discovery was that I hit my word goal faster. Work that originally took me at least two hours (or more) got done in about an hour. Seems my writing muscle improved with this exercise and now I know that if I keep up my writing practice, I can keep enjoying the faster results. If I don’t, then I know how to “train” to get back on track again.
Why is less time desirable? After all, writing every day makes me feel alive in a way that nothing else does. Why would I want to spend less time doing it? Well, as much fun as writing can be, sometimes (read, always) it is hard work. Staring at a blank page or looking at a word count that always begins with zero can be intimidating. Like oh-my-fucking-God-I’d-rather-go-to-the-dentist intimidating. Knowing that all I had to do was commit to 33 minutes flipped a switch in my mind. I hit go and typing happened. Words appeared on the page. It was like magic. Besides, while I enjoy working hard (yeah, I really do!) I also like playing on Facebook. There are thousands of videos with dogs and cats and humans doing wonderful things. And I like watching Scandal. Goofing off isn’t my ultimate high, however. I also love photography and making jewelry. I am not interested in choosing any one of my loves over another so training my mind to get to work when I want it to is invaluable. Yet another gift from NaNo.
Another really good thing was revealed to me as a result of my participation in NaNo. Turns out, I have discipline. This was a shock to me as I’d spent most of life thinking I did not have that particular super power. Score!
What about the book? Will I publish it? I don’t know. I like the story. I will finish it and then I intend to put it in a virtual drawer for about a month before I begin the editing process. Then, we’ll see. If the book never sees another set of eyeballs, I’m okay with that. What I learned from NaNo was SO valuable. If don’t publish this book, then others will be published. The blog will get a lot of work. My words will be out in the world. The magic I earned from NaNo is that I am as much a writer as I ever want to be and I can take writing as far as I want to go with it.