National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is what started my writing life. For the uninitiated, it’s a creature of the internet age. An on-line effort to get people writing. The “objective” is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.
For years, I toyed with the idea of writing a novel. It was something I wanted to try some day. The only problem was that I had no idea about how to go about doing the thing. I’d occasionally have these ideas for opening lines or opening scenes, but I had no idea how to go further than that.
One day, a good friend who knew of this wish of mine told me about NaNoWriMo. It was the end of October. I believe it was 2003. I looked it up and then a magical thing occurred. I outlined (and I use that term loosely) a story in my head and on November 1, I started writing.
I didn’t write 50,000 words during that month. I think it was somewhere around 20,000 over the next couple of months. Than I stalled until I bought a laptop so I could write while being with my family, instead of going into the office and isolating myself from my young kids.
A year later, I had a novel that would eventually become One Night in Bridgeport. And the door was blown wide open. I’ve been writing ever since, although I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome, doubt, and writer’s block for several years now.
In the years since, I’ve tried NaNoWriMo two other times. Those efforts never went very far because I couldn’t turn off my internal editor, my internal critic. NaNoWriMo requires something that I typically don’t have — the ability to just write, to just let the words come out and type them and hope that it all makes sense. That’s just not the way my writing has developed over the last 18 years. I think about things a lot and my internal critic tells me regularly that what I’m doing is crap. As a result, this November tradition hasn’t done much for me since 2003.
As November 2021 approached, I thought of giving it a try again. It’s been a number of years since my last effort. I thought that maybe I could use NaNoWriMo to kick start something, to finish a WIP, to do something. Anything. It’s been months since I’ve done any serious writing. Maybe this was the time.
Then, in October, I wrote a short story via a writing exercise I put up on WritersSupportingWriters, and I decided to use NaNoWriMo to see if I could take that story further. Turn it into a novel.
To do that, I had to turn off that damn internal voice of mine. Or maybe it is internal voices. Because there are many voices having a conversation in my head. I wasn’t sure I could do that.
I needed to try. So, now, a little over half way through November, I have 25,000 words on this story. I’ve adopted the NaNoWriMo ethos and am just writing and writing. And whenever that little voice starts to make itself known, I shut it down. I am writing.
I know that I’ll have to go back and do a lot of work on this story if I want it to be anything real, but for now, it’s good to just write. That said, I’m getting a little worn out by the daily routine. I’m trying really hard to keep up with the word count. To meet the goal of 50,000 words. Last night, I wrote some, but not enough. For the first time this month, I’ve fallen behind the pace I need to be on to meet the goal.
And tonight, instead of writing the story, I’m writing this post. It’s time to get back to the story. NaNoWriMo, don’t fail me now.