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NaNoWriMo - Best of Intentions

It is Day two of National Novel Writing Month. So far my word count is 551. That’s from yesterday. If you include the words I plugged into my draft in previous weeks, it’s closer to 10000, but ethically I’m not sure when I’m allowed to start counting.

It’s a “contest” after all. Rules should be obeyed.

For those unfamiliar, November marks the annual month of novel writing. NaNoWriMo is a challenge, founded by Chris Baty in the San Francisco Bay are in 1999, that encourages participants to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November 30. It’s evolved into an international phenomenon where a community of people with the same creative goal can support each other in one crazy dream – a finished first draft.

Now that I’ve written a novel, I understand what I’m in for.

For my first NaNoWriMo participation, I’ve been planning for weeks. Buying coffee, scribbling notes, pacing. OK, cheating, too. Putting in words before the start date. Don’t tell anyone. This is our secret.

So on Day One I got up with a foggy brain from the night before (some long overdue adult social time with friends that resulted in lack of sleep and a mild hangover) and my excitement and good intentions seemed somewhat dulled. And then Violet decided not to nap. Again. And the Halloween decorations needed to come down. And dinner needed to be cooked. And the laundry and the vacuuming and the Sunday morning crossword puzzle...

So at the end of the day, 551 words (as opposed to the 1800 needed daily to meet the goal) seemed like a success.

And then it didn’t.

NaNoWriMo is a beautiful challenge in and of itself, and I encourage anyone and everyone intent on writing a novel to give it a go. But it is also a metaphor. It is a goal, and a lofty one, and as they say, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”.

My plan today was to get up and write 1000 words before Violet got up. But a nasty, unexpected cough woke her before sunrise. And with her clinging to my legs and crying for orange juice, I am now looking at the clock – 9:15 – reminding me that even the best of intentions can go awry.

Goals are important, and reaching them means not giving up. But it is also a tug of war between expectations and reality. You have to give yourself and your life a little room to breathe, even when a novel is to be completed in an insanely limited amount of time. If you don’t, you’ll choke yourself out of all the enthusiasm you started out with. Breathe. Push. Relax. Start again.

“I WILL write this novel in a month.” Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll try, coughs and colds and laundry be damned. To anyone else attempting this insanity, the best of luck to you. Or whatever other crazy goals you’ve set for yourself this month.  Goals are essential. To life. To growth. To happiness. To accomplishing anything. But don’t forget they are your goals. Don’t beat yourself up too hard, and don’t give up. Dance the back-and-forth dance ‘til you get to the finish line. Whenever that is. Because good honest intentions are what really count, I think, in the end.

Writing and the Journey