my friends could probably tell you this…
I like to consider myself a planner.
… but they could also tell you this:
I actually spend a rather large portion of my life plunging into things quite suddenly and then making it all up as I go along. See also: changing majors or starting a fashion blog.
To clarify, these actually don’t negate each other. In general, I’m not spontaneous. I like my life to have lots of order, schedule, and organization. While I don’t always succeed, I like some semblance of them to be around. I don’t need meticulous plans–just overarching themes and such. This brings me to the main point of this post.
the long and short of it
For some reason, I decided that signing up for NaNoWriMo–that is, National Novel Writing Month–two days before it starts (November 1).
No, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing. I may love writing, but I’ve certainly never tackled a project like this: 50,000 words seems like a distant dream. Add a time limit of 30 days? Ha! What! Surely you can’t be serious. Well, now that you mention it…
Do I realize that this is a massive project that I probably should’ve been preparing for since the beginning of October? Yes.
Do I realize that I have virtually no outline, no idea of what the central conflict of my story will be, and only a vague handle on the characters and the setting? Yes.
Do I realize that 50,000 words is a lot to ask in four months, let alone in four weeks? Yes.
Do I have any idea what I’m doing here? Not really!
Am I going to let any of this stop me from at least trying? Not a chance.
If I’m going to actually do this thing, I’m going to have to change a few things about… well, mostly everything. I’m going to need some more structure in my life, which means I need to overhaul a few habits and jumpstart a few new ones–like going for runs in the morning, being more consistent with exercise in general, eating at normal times (note to self: no midnight snacks), sleeping at normal hours… and, of course, writing. Lots of writing.
To create space for these new habits, I’m going to have to change where I spend my time (e.g. less general dilly-dallying, more actual writing). In short: I’ll be around, but less than usual. If you see me blogging every day, ask me why I’m not writing my story. If you see me liking twenty pictures on facebook, ask me why I’m not writing. If you see me sitting on my back porch staring at the sky and not doing anything for more than ten minutes at a time, call me out on it.
the truth of the matter
I’m not walking into this trying to change the world, or even my world, or even to write the best fairy tale adventure story ever seen (although that would be pretty cool… one day, perhaps). I’m tackling NaNo because… I’ve wanted to do it since 2007. I’ve always been a fan of a challenge. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was seven (even though I hated writing when I was seven). Plus, I’ve got an idea I want to see properly on paper. In words. Lots of words. At least 50,000 of them, in fact.
… and I need a kick in the pants to get me started on it. I work better with deadlines–actual ones, not the kind you make up yourself–than I ever have without them. So here’s my deadline: 50,000 words by November 30. If I hit that goal, I’ll be pretty proud of myself. If I don’t hit that goal, I’ll still be pretty proud of myself. Whichever way it goes, I’ll write more than I would otherwise and I’ll be the better for it.
After all, the best way to improve on any skill is to practice. And the best kind of practice is to throw yourself into a space where you can make mistakes, learn from them, and keep going strong. I’ve got a feeling NaNo might be that space for me (at least, I hope it is).
Before I head off to do some more really last minute planning, I wanted to say thanks. I’ve already talked to some of you about this, and you’ve all been really, really encouraging. Thank you for that. Thank you for telling me that I haven’t gone completely bonkers in signing up for this two days before it starts. Thank you for telling me that you’re excited I’m doing this. Thank you for saying you know I can do it. Thank you for saying you have faith in me, you can’t wait to see how it turns out, and that you want to read it when I’m done. Thank you for sending me smiley faces and !!!!!! and it’s gonna be amazing and YOU ARE GONNA DO GREAT text messages. I haven’t even started writing, but you’re already there supporting this crazy idea of mine. So thank you. That means the world to me.
(And if you want to keep that up every few days during November, I certainly won’t object. I have a feeling I’m going to need all the help and encouragement I can get.)
So… that’s that. I’m oddly excited and surprisingly not all that nervous about this; I suppose the stakes are pretty low when you think about the fact that even failure will mean having more than I do as I’m starting. And whatever happens in the next thirty days, I’ll be looking forward to coming back here to tell you all about it when we hit December.