After a bright and promising start, followed by yawning boredom over the banality of my characters, through the anti-productive fireworks of the July 4th holiday weekend, over the twice-repeated flight delays at LaGuardia and O’Hare, past a crippling neck spasm brought on by over-zealous hamstring exercises, and around and increasingly cringe-worthy character desecration, I am proud to report from the backwaters of Camp Nanowrimo that I have just passed the halfway mark for the July writing challenge!
That’s right, my unofficial word count is 13,008!
Granted, before embarking on this crazy expedition, I lowered my goal from the default 50,000 words to a “measly” 25,000, but I’ve reached the halfway point nonetheless and 25 pages of Helvetica type face. I am proud to say that it hasn’t been all blood, sweat and tears. Despite my ever-increasing struggle with boring dialog and mounting panic should this story ever see the light of day, I have realized one very important thing during this journey to the midline: the value of daily (or almost daily) practice.
One of the main benefits of doing a writing challenge like Nanowrimo is that it forces you to write on a daily basis. A month is not a lot of time and if you are at all serious about trying to reach your word goal, at some point you will have to force yourself to sit down and focus on your story. Past the initial giddiness of doing something new for the first few days of the challenge, I grew somewhat uninspired and really started to lose enthusiasm for my story. I had to push out the thoughts that told me it wasn’t worth my time and energy and focus on the fact that a month is a ridiculously short time for a commitment as grand as writing a novel and that all I had to do was try to generate enthusiasm for one scene, or one character, and not worry about anything else.
In a masochistic twist, this forced, daily confrontation with my goal has begun to feel satisfying. In a, maybe I can do this, sort of way. I’ve come to actually look forward to the daily practice. It’s “me” time. A time to shut out everything else and work towards the bigger picture, my goal of becoming a successful writer.
Even if my current story goes nowhere, and there’s a 110% chance of that happening, there is value in practicing writing every day. Through it you find your voice, your rhythm, your own, unique style. You can’t help but become a better writer because you aren’t just talking about writing, you’re actually doing it. Now it’s time for me to shut up about writing myself, and get back to it. I’m over halfway done; there’s no turning back now!