Today, my friends, is November thirtieth. It is the last day of the great National Novel Writing Month challenge. There are less than twenty-four hours in which to hit your word count goal and pop it in the validator. Some of you already have, some of you are almost there, a couple of you might have given up, and the rest of you are probably biting your nails nervously checking the clock every other sentence.
Today I’m not going to tell you to slow down or relax. Today it’s time to finish your novel or at least hit your word count goal, or at least get as close as you can to your goal. Today it’s time to write five or ten thousand words. Today it’s time to write until your fingers bleed, wipe them off on some kleenex and keep going anyway. Today is the day to prove to everyone that you really are just as crazy as you think you are by kicking some literary butt.
So don’t pick up the phone today. Unplug your modem after you read this post. Don’t leave your house. Turn on the coffee maker, get comfortable and get to work. It’s time to fill page after page with your brilliance until your fingers are crying for you to stop. When they start crying for you to stop, it’s time to take a moment’s break, tell them they won’t have to hurt again after this, it’s the last day of November, and get back to work. Even if you’ve hit your word count goal, if you haven’t finished your novel, you still have work to do. Get to it, and don’t forget to update your word count–let’s see how many words the entire Nanowrimo community can write in a month.
And if you don’t hit 50, 000 words tonight or finish your novel, that’s cool too. We all do Nanowrimo for different reasons and with different goals in mind, and there are a lot more things to be gained than the first draft of a novel.
For example, I’m going to tell you a story about my grandmother. My grandmother, as those of you who know me personally are aware, is simply the most fantastic woman I’ve ever met. She’s also crazy and, at the age of 65, still works harder than pretty much anyone I know. She works full time at a shelter for abused women and when she’s not working, she’s almost always babysitting my aunt and uncle’s two beautiful children. She sleeps less than I do and works more than I do. I think she might actually be insane.
This November, on either the second or the third, my wonderful but very insane grandmother decided that she would start working on a novel too. Thanks to her busy schedule, she probably won’t finish, but she did write 20, 000 words or so. For a while she was upset that she had fallen behind, but I think I convinced her that it’s okay for someone who works as much as she does not to hit 50, 000 words, and that I only expected her to try. I think, being a Nanowrimo star of sorts and having written lots and lots of words during the month, that it meant a lot to her to hear me say that–though she still pointed out that SHE expects herself to win. I think she dropped that, though.
While she didn’t finish her novel, and she probably won’t, the experience has been invaluable to her. She’s had to really look at her time and she’s realized something I’ve known for years–she doesn’t take any time for herself unless it’s sleeping time. Trying to find time to write has made her look seriously at what she’s doing with her time, and while she only has so much control over her schedule, she is going to be making changes based on what she’s noticed during Nanowrimo.
So while I hope you will all be pounding the keyboard with me tonight, if you don’t win, you’re still walking away with something. Maybe if you realized you really don’t have time to write a 50, 000 word novel in a month it’s time that you change your life and give yourself more time to focus on the things you love doing. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re just not a fast writer. Maybe you’ve realized you’re a better writer than you thought you were, or that you’re really not that great. Whatever your word count, there is always something to be learned from Nanowrimo.
What do you think you’re going to walk away with this November other than a draft of your novel?
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