NaNo NaNo

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This, the writers among you know, is NaNoWriMo. Folks who don’t have a pathological need to conjure words all the time may have heard of National Novel Writing Month, the annual November challenge to write a novel in 30 days.

I tried it three years ago, dove in, and after three days and 6,000 words I declared victory. Then the train crashed.

Here’s part of what I posted a couple of months later:

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I wrote glowingly of launching into the requirement to write 1,667 words a day in order to finish a 50,000-word novel in one month. It was surprisingly working like a charm.

As soon as I told the world about this, the Muse danced away, laughing.

Once I declared, “I’m doing this,” the creative spark just shut down. It was like reverse accountability: When I announced I’m going to be accountable, something inside said, “Oh yeah? Forget it, I ain’t playing by those rules. You aren’t pushing me that way – I’m taking my story and going home.”

This process has to be between me and me, it seems. If I let the world know what I’m up to, it’s like letting a little steam out, breaking the seal that keeps the pressure cooker cooking. I need to finish the stories, but when I become conscious that it’s pouring out (or let the world in on the secret) then the spell is broken and the spinning plates all clatter to the floor.

(Yep, I just mixed metaphors and made a more flavorful cookie batter than I expected.)

It seems I’m wired in a way where the call to push through the project directly at light speed works beautifully until I notice that I’m pushing through the project directly at light speed, or mention it to other people. It’s like a cartoon character racing off a cliff and walking on air until he looks down, notices that he’s been walking on air, and plunges into the chasm.

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I have learned to be a little easier on myself when my novel(s) go into long droughts. For one thing, I have a half-dozen books full of shorter writings and these daily musings to confirm that yes, I am a writer, writers write, and I am writing. 

What I need to remember — and the train crashes when I forget — is to have fun. Back in November 2019 I was writing about a private detective who discovers he’s somehow lost his memory of the fact that his partner is a 6 1/2 foot high pookha who manifests as a skunk. It was a hoot! And I still want to go back in and finish that story. All I have to do is retrieve the fun I was having.

As my hero liked to say, I have to race off that cliff and, instead of plunging into the chasm, build my wings on the way down so that my heroes and I swoop back into the air just in the nick of time.

If you are on Day 4 of the challenge, good luck! hang in there! and above all, have fun!!!

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