The end of the third week of the month long writing challenge has come and with it a few thoughts.
This is my second time doing it. My first time I was part of a group of writers from SFFChronicles all doing it, and I got huge results wordcount wise from their camaraderie and enthusiasm. To my mind, that sense of fellowship was the heart and soul of my success. I resolved to only do it when I had that group. Thanks to various Discords and twitter buddies, I thought I had a sort of group this year.
That hasn’t really materialised, but I have talked to a number of people on the subject in passing. Many sound defeated by the whole thing, and I think I only know of one other writer who’s getting what they want out of it. Anecdote isn’t data, but it’s enough to make me think.
For me, the two foundation blocks of being a good writer is perseverance and the ability to learn. Without those things, you won’t see your story through, and you won’t learn how to get better. Talent, imagination, keen observation and so on – all hugely important thing, but they need a foundation. The point of NaNo, at least as I understand it, is to teach endurance and a writing habit. Feed the habit daily for a month and you’ll have a habit that goes on day after day. These things are big part of perseverance for some.
For some. And it’s here we talk about the ability to learn.
The target of 50k words in a month is a big one. Achieving it while holding down a normal life either requires total dedication, or very quick writing of a type that almost definitely belongs to the “get it down, you can edit it later” school. The type that might well put *BATTLE HERE* or *COOL SPEECH SMOOCHY SMOOCHY SMOOCH*. There’s a reason that’s the dominant style of writing but it’s not for everyone.
Or to put it another way, there’s a lot of reasons NaNo mightn’t work for someone.
And when that happens, it’s very easy to lose faith in the whole writing idea. Not just NaNo, but the whole thing. Maybe not forever, but at least for a while.
Honestly, I wish it was set up differently to make it easier for writers to select goals that work for them better than the whole 50k words in a month. I think it would help writers more. I know you can set different goals, but that’s you being a bit of an individual, not doing the thing everyone else is doing. But in any case, things are as they are, and for most of us would-be writers, dealing with life the way it is is part and parcel of finding the time to make it happen.
Which is where we come back to perseverance and the ability to learn. Keeping on going when things aren’t ideal, and finding routines and expectations that work. If NaNo isn’t working for you, it’s an opportunity to find something that does.
What exactly that is, I can’t say. It’s an individual thing and offering anything prescriptive would just be me making a bigger ass of myself than usual. I can only urge to keep going on and finding ways to express yourself – after all, there are no wrong turnings, only paths we did not know we were meant to walk.