Contests and I have a fairly testy relationship. You see, I don’t tend to win them. And not winning tends to engender all kinds of pesky feelings like, well, insecurity, anger, envy . . .
Yeah, I know. Pretty unproductive, hunh?
So when I heard about this whole wacko NaMoWriMo contest – the writing of a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November when holidays demand attention too – I wondered why anyone in his or her right mind would sign up. What possible benefit could there be to having to write so fast there wouldn’t be time to edit? I mean, really. That would just be another 50,000 words added to the crappy inventory of crappy stuff already out there.
Of course, I wasn’t thinking about anyone else’s output. Just my own. 50,000 words in 30 days? It’d have to be crap. Right?
(At this point you might wonder how, with such a negative attitude, I manage to get up each day. . . especially at 6 AM. Believe me, it’s a struggle.)
Well, this year, having gone to the intensive master class and wanting to put a fire under my productivity anyway, I defied all my initial objections and committed.
From November 1 until today . . .
— upload a single word count at the website
— sign up for a single forum to chat with others about the experience
— watch videos for encouragement
— talk with friends or anyone else about what I was doing (not really)
— edit my prose
— worry about the crappy quality of the writing DURING the act of writing (night-time sweats were another thing, of course)
WRITE 52,000+ words in 26 days*
And today, after “winning” this contest, I’m sitting here wondering if I should bother turning in the manuscript for the final word count.
Because, you know what? I’m not sure I need other people to know I’m a winner on that website. My sense of accomplishment has more to do with having done it than announcing it to the world (except my Murderati buddies, of course).
But I’ve got to admit, I feel GREAT!
I’m not done with the novel yet – maybe 2/3 of the way through – but I know where I’m going with it. As of tomorrow, with the end of the contest, I’ll have time to do a little research on some questions that came up during the writing. And I think, realistically, I’ll have the first draft of the entire book before the end of the year.
Sure . . . some of the writing in this new book is really bad. Some of it is really good.
I’m 52,000+ words closer to completing a new novel than I was on November 1.
The beauty of committing to NaNoWriMo – at least for me – was just that. I committed. I didn’t second-guess myself about the writing. For 26 glorious days, I ignored all the junk that can impede a writer’s originality and output. [During the same time period, I also wrote a few short stories and an article for a local magazine.]
And you know what?
I really, really felt like the writer I want to be. Butt in chair. Working. No excuses. Reveling when the words flow. Pushing through when things get tough and the Muse and I are trying to find ways to torpedo each other.
I loved it all.
Every damn minute of it.
Today I’m wondering about several things:
— Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, what did you think of the experience?
— Should I upload my manuscript? Is there a benefit to doing that of which I might not be aware?
— If you haven’t tried NaNoWriMo, is there another similar experience you’ve had where you were required to jump in without self-censorship and just make it happen within a defined period of time?
I’m looking forward to your answers today. Our conversations are always so interesting.
*I had to go out of town during the contest and couldn’t be alone to write during that time. So I had to finish early.