After all the gremlins and goblins, princesses and pirates go home tonight and the Halloween decorations and candies are put away, NaNoWriMo begins. For those of you who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo , you agree to try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That sounds like a lot and the first time I tried it, I let my own insecurities psyche me out. About 10 days in, I decided there was no way I could do it. After all, it meant writing -- gasp -- a novel in just one month. What I didn't take into account is that the rules say 50,000 words, not 100,000 or more (which is what I write now without batting an eye). So, I became my own worst enemy.
Instead of focusing on the end number of 50,000, look at the daily average you have to write. 1,667 words, give or take. That looks more manageable, right? Now, that might mean you only write a few hundred words a day during the week and then pound out more on weekends. You -- and I because I am doing NaNoWriMo as well as taking up Sarah's challenge. Yes, I've lost my mind. But you already knew that -- simply have to do what works.
One of the biggest excuses I've heard -- and I've used this more often than I care to admit -- about taking part in NaNoWriMo is "I don't have time". It's an easy excuse and, yes, real life does happen. But, if we were to look at our lives with a critical eye, I'd lay odds each one of us could find a few minutes a day when we are doing something -- or nothing -- that doesn't have to be done. Some of us are gamers. Some of us are avid TV watchers or sports fans. Some of us don't get up until we absolutely have to. So, instead of spending an hour or more a day playing Halo 3 or watching Dancing with the Stars or the World Series (oops, strike that. The Rangers are in the Series so we'll say football) take half of the time you'd normally be gaming or watching TV and write. If you like to sleep in, start getting up half an hour or hour earlier. Give yourself time to write.
The issue really comes down to the question of "Are you a writer?". It's not, "Do you want to write?". There are a lot of people out there who want to write, some who even think they can, but who will never be a writer. A writer is, in my opinion, someone who has to write. That's right, HAS to write. I'm not talking about having to write to make a living or to please someone else. I mean you have to write because it is a part of you. It truly is something you have to do. For another author's take on this, check out John Scalzi's post here.
Another thing to beware of as you take up the challenge of NaNoWriMo or even Sarah's challenge from a week ago: distractions. It is so easy as we hit that part in the book that seems hard to write to start looking for other things to do. Some of us suddenly need to clean house. Others just have to get that yard work done. There are any number of distractions -- including, for me, deciding that it is the PERFECT time to learn something new. Sometimes a distraction is good. it lets your mind take a step back and, when you return to your writing project, you can look at it with fresh eyes. But these distractions are also insidious because they will keep you from writing if you let them. So, just as you set goals with your writing, you need to set limits on the distractions.
All this said, I'll admit I haven't written much this past week. But, after everyone left the house after the baseball game last night, I took time to write out the basic outline of a story that attacked me earlier. Then I finished the outline for another project I've been working on. Today, after a bit of work I have to do outside and which shouldn't take more than an hour and after I finish prepping Kate's prequel to Impaler, Born in Blood, to go up at Naked Reader Press, I'm spending the rest of the day writing. And, tomorrow, I'll start getting up half an hour earlier than usual to write. That is my commitment to both Sarah's challenge and nanowrimo. Now, the project for NaNoWriMo will not be complete at 50,000 words, but it will be halfway completed. That's a good start.
So, how many of you are doing NaNoWriMo? How do you find time to write and, if you're having trouble finding the time, is there anything you can do to carve out 30 minutes a day for it?