To Nano or Not to Nano

I sit today at home, which is a long time coming. And as I do, a question keeps bothering me. I signed up for Nano this year. And due to illness, I’m quite behind. So the question is? Do I even bother? I know it seems silly to give up. And I did just give a speech about how shit happens and you keep going and all, but I don’t have the answers for myself in this particular case. How can I answer that question for you? I don’t now, but I’m willing to give it the old college try. Disclaimer: I didn’t go to college. So, you know. Grain of salt and all that.

Nanowrimo is something that I first tried in 2009. I was a freshman in high school, to age myself. But we all did things as freshmen, I suppose. A friend of mine was doing it. He wasn’t a writer, but he thought writing was easy. After all, I did it. I’d finished a few truly awful first drafts by that point. He’d read them. He didn’t seem to think they were as bad as they actually were. So we made a pact to give it a try. Once I got a taste for writing as fast as one must, I was addicted. This began my fast drafting journey. I think it’s important for you to know that this is something that had an impact on me. The pep talks from varying writers throughout the process were kind of everything I needed to hear at the time as well. I saved them all in my email somewhere. I even look back at them when I’m having a bad writing day sometimes. But that sort of leads me into the debate of whether or not Nano is for me, or for you, or for anybody really. And the answer is yes. Sort of.

Some people need a swift kick in the ass to be productive. Were I not keeping myself to a deadline for blogging, for example, I’d likely be drinking and watching the election updates. And probably crying. But enough of that optimism. Instead, here I am. And that’s the sort of writing behavior that that one simple month instilled in me. A level of discipline. Sometimes you just have to write when you don’t want to. No, Nano’s speed may not work for you. It certainly wouldn’t work for most of the writers I know. But I draft like Kerouac without the uppers when the writing is going well. And I like to think that’s because of Nano. Before I tried it, I had no idea that I was capable of writing quite that quickly. I was writing less than a thousand words a day. And contentedly so. I thought it was a lot because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know any other writers, and I thought that was all I could do. Well, it turned out that through Nano, I met some other writers. And I found out that I could do so much more than I thought I was able.

Giving myself daily goals has become a staple of my writing regime. I won’t blow smoke up your skirt and tell you that I always meet them. Or that I’m expecting anyone else to. Because like I said, life happens. What I am telling you is that you could do with a little discipline. Within reason. I also discovered that a rewards system is a good idea when you’re doing something like this. Maybe a big gift to yourself if you meet an entire week’s goals? Or perhaps a little goal along the way. Mine happens to vary a bit, but the primary is a square of some rather nice dark chocolate. I know. Rebel without a clue. But I don’t go through much of it, due to the whole diabeetus thing. But it’s enough to give me something to look forward to. And when you want to make a full time’s work out of something that’s a hobby, keeping yourself motivated enough to keep going is rather clutch. Even if it’s something as trivial as a little square of 70% like me.

And that’s why I recommend doing Nano. Not that I expect you to write that much every day. But you need to know where you’re comfortable. Where your limits are. And then you need to make a point to surpass that every day. My limit started somewhere around a thousand words every day. It may seem daunting, but you have to do something drastic sometimes when it’s about something that really matters. This does really matter, doesn’t it? I can’t lie and say that I kept in touch with those writers that I met perusing the forums all those years ago. But it taught me something about community. A lesson we could all use. Writing, though a solitary act, doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Sure, plenty of us are curmudgeons. I know that I am. But it’s important to know that you’re not alone in this life. There are plenty of people who’re like you, whether you know them in person or through the guise of a blue-lit computer screen. They’re out there. You just have to put yourself in a situation in which you can find them. Because they want to find you. Trust me.

Back to stressing out about the election. After a bit of writing, of course. Ta ta for now, loves. What about you? Have you ever tried Nano? How did it work for you?


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