Today is the very last day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I wrote 67,831 words in 29 days, passing the 50,000 word mark (with 5,0005 words at time of validation) on November 22, 2018. I’m spending most of today continuing to write my story in the hopes that I can reach “The End” before midnight.
It’s been a turbulent November this year. I’m part of the Municipal Liaison team for my area (ML is a fancy term for an unpaid volunteer). There are three of us. The region is active enough that it needs three of us. Due to work demanding time, energy, and overtime, for one co-ML and the other ending up sick not once but twice during November, I was a solo act for possibly half the month. I know this was no fault of theirs, and I love them both dearly for doing as much as they did while overwhelmed with work/illness. It just meant more time being an ML and slightly less time for writing.
On top of that, I’m taking a statistics course this fall. I was involved in too many conversations at work that assumed I knew what things like standard deviations and sampling strategies were. I know actually understand what those are. I’m even fairly sure I can get above a C if I do well on the final, but that’s on the 7th, so it means more time taken away from my novel this last week as I start studying and keep up with new material.
Work has also been incredibly busy, so I’ve been able to take fewer long lunches and had fewer chances to leave early, which means less writing time as well. But the wonderful thing about NaNoWriMo is that this doesn’t get in the way of my actually accomplishing something and getting a lot of writing done. November is a time when I can justify putting off other things so that I can devote myself to writing. I do a decent job of carving out time to write all year, but I really focus on it in November. There’s less checking social media, less traveling (I love my family but Thanksgiving with them isn’t worth the drive anymore), less watching TV, and less cooking (thank you beloved husband).
And that right there, the time and space I’ve made to be creative and to write, that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about. Yes, reaching the 50,000 word goal is awesome and comes with some nice coupon codes and other goodies, but mostly, it’s the writing time and the community that matter to me. My NaNoWriMo community has become my friend group year-round. I’ve also met some amazing people who are MLs in other areas, and it’s always great to see them each year, and interact with them on the ML forums year-round.
So even if 50,000 words of a new novel draft in thirty days seems intimidating, it’s not the end-all-be-all of NaNoWriMo. Aim for the 1667 words per day as often as you can. Be a rebel and use it as a way to finish an existing project or a short story collection. Come into the experience knowing that 50,000 words is hard, but that you want to write as many words as you can. Come for the community and the support and the joy of being creative with others. Don’t discount the challenge just because it seems unattainable. And that goes for a lot of things in life. You never really know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.
So while it’s been a crazy month, it’s also been amazing. My community rallied around me and was super supportive and helpful when I was running events without my co-MLs and they’ve been amazing at hosting events all month long. Our online chat has been hopping almost every day. The ML community has been amazing and supportive of me and all the others who are struggle with issues large and small. So next year, if you don’t already, consider joining me on this crazy month-long adventure.