I’ve slowed down a little since my last post, adding about 7,000 words to put my total count this month just over 20k.
This is nowhere near where I need to be if I’m serious about finishing 50k by next weekend, but that’s okay. I am really happy with my progress. Usually when the semester is in session, it takes about 12 weeks to get 20,000 new words into a story. Hitting that number in just under 3 weeks seems nothing short of a miracle. More importantly, I am very close to finishing this novel. Or rather, novella, as it looks like The Hunting Grounds will top off at about 45k.
While I don’t anticipate winning the NanoWrimo grand prize this year, I’ve learned some important things by participating.
For one, I’ve seen how quickly I can put out a story if I set aside time for writing every day.
I’ve also learned how quickly I wear myself out if I set aside time for writing every day.
Creativity takes tremendous energy, and to squeeze in these snippets of writing time on top of everything else I have to do as a biology professor has not been easy. Especially now, with us barreling full-throttle toward the end of the semester at Avila. I’ve often said that whoever invented NanoWrimo was not an academic or an educator, as November is hands down the worst time of the year to ask an educator to write every day. Call me back in June, please. Maybe I’ll sign up then.
Another important lesson of NanoWrimo is the double-edged sword of comparing yourself to other people. Of course, I’ve known this for a long time, but NanoWrimo has given me the opportunity to reflect once more on the topic.
On the one hand, being a part of this great race and having the example and encouragement of other writers can serve as a true inspiration. But there are pitfalls in becoming discouraged if your own word counts start to fall behind those of your buddies. There’s also the constant temptation of putting down words for the sake of putting down words, and therefore spewing out a lot of junk just to reach that magic number every day.
NanoWrimo has convinced me more than ever that this is not the kind of writing that brings out the best of my personal craft. Sometimes my words are ready to flow rapidly onto the page, but sometimes my mind needs to mull and process. To dream, so to speak, rather than just work work work. I have to respect that and give myself permission to fall behind relative to others, to let go of the arbitrary goal that compelled me to sign up for this event in the first place.
My most important lesson from NanoWrimo? Well, I may change my mind a couple months down the road, but for the moment, I’d say it’s this: I love writing novellas!
If I finish The Hunting Grounds by next weekend, which I’m pretty confident I will, then I will have punched out a respectable story in just under seven months. This boggles my mind, especially since each installment of The Silver Web took almost 3 years to complete.
I’m so excited about novellas that I’m ready to try another one when I finish this project. I have an idea that’s been brewing in my mind for a while, set in a different time and place, that I think will be very amenable to this format. More on that when the time comes…
That’s this week’s update from the front lines of NanoWrimo. There’s some exciting news coming near the end of November, including Hadley Rille Book’s annual birthday sale. Please stop by again next week to find out more!