Friday, December 23, 2011
My Failings as a Novelist: How NaNoWriMo helped me find my voice
That's right...this past November, I jumped on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon to celebrate National Novel Writing Month.
I thought, "This is going to be my year! I'm going to crank out the book that's going to make me millions, and I'm going to do it in one month!"
I felt prepared; I had my novel idea in mind before I even signed up, I had brainstormed who my characters would be and how they would be introduced, and I set aside a daily chunk of time to devote to my novel writing.
Starting out the month strong, I kept to my schedule...for about three days. Even when I found myself adding to my novel only every third or fourth day, I was still confident, hopeful even, that I would find my motivation, my inspiration, and drive it home in the final weeks. But, as I neared mid-month, with a mere 4,500 of the targeted 50,000 words written, I fell victim to self-doubt and discouragement.
Desperate to find my voice, I started searching the NaNoWriMo site for insight and musings. I read the emails meant to encourage and motivate. I read through my region's discussion threads. Sadly, all I found was more discouragement: I was discouraged by all the other "novelists", who were racking up 10,000 words a day; I was discouraged by the comraderie I saw but didn't feel; and, I was discouraged because I fell farther and farther behind.
I even tried, at one point, to reach out for help, asking my fellow area NaNos what they were doing to motivate themselves but I received no suggestions or encouragement, not even a "Sorry you are struggling; maybe novel writing just isn't your thing". All I was received with nothing.
So, I did what any self-respecting writer would do...I refused to log back in to NaNo for the remainder of the month. I didn't want to see how everyone else was sprinting to the finish line, heroically hoisting their 50,000 words above them, while I struggled to hold on to my measely 5,000 words back at turn #1.
As November faded into December, I decided to take a peek at what I had abandoned a mere two weeks prior and wouldn't you know it...epiphany struck!
As I read what I had written, my "measely 5,000 words", I realized that I had written more of my novel in the first two weeks of National Novel Writing Month than I had in all the years I toyed with the idea! I actually had a great beginning to my great novel: the characters were real, the feelings were genuine, and the plot was well on its way to thickening.
I felt a renewed sense of inspiration. I had found my motivation...and it came to me in December!
I realized I didn't fail to write my novel during the month of November, I had succeeded in taking the first steps towards my lifelong dream of writing a novel. Rather than pumping out 1,600 words a day, I could compose 5,000 words a month and be finished with my novel in less than a year!
I had my voice back!