National Novel Writing Month is coming to a close VERY soon! For all of those who have been literally writing their buns off this month, congrats to you! You’re incredible, and the determination alone to get to that near-impossible word count is enough to get you to make it as a writer. If you don’t get to the 50,000 word mark, guess what? You’re still pretty freaking cool, and don’t let anybody make you feel like you’re not.
This year in particular, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t want to participate in NaNoWriMo because aiming for a word count isn’t their thing, or that they won’t like to write long-form pieces. These are both valid reasons, of course, but I feel like they really ignore the spirit of what NaNoWriMo truly offers. Yes, there is a goal that you’re working toward, but what you can truly take away from NaNoWriMo is that you really did have the determination to sit in front of your computer for several hours a day, and write words that your brain generated onto a blank document. It’s not about the fact that you were trying to meet a deadline, or that you have to prove that you could even write a novel-lengthen piece of writing in such a short amount of time; it’s about the fact that you had the determination within you to do it all along.
I feel like I’ve shared this story with the Internet before, but hey, the Internet is constantly changing, and therefore, so has my views on my past writing experiences. I’ve only ever made it to 50,000 words once during a National Novel Writing Month, and that was in 2010 during my freshman year of college. I literally wrote with every free minute that I had. “Just finished all of my homework? Time to write!” “Watching a movie with friends that I’ve already seen? I can squeeze some writing in!” “Waiting for laundry to get done? The low hum of a dryer could make for a great backdrop for being productive on my novel!” “It’s midnight and I should really be in bed because I have a 9am class tomorrow, but if I stay up, think of all of the writing I could get done!”
Each year after that, I fell very flat on making that word count. I sat in front of my computer with every intention of creating something new, but feeling more like I was firing blanks in a dark room. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time to write, or maybe there was too much else going on during my college years, as well as transitioning into a society outside of that bubble, that put up a giant writer’s block. What mattered in those moments was that I still tried. The determination and the resolve was still there, even if fountain of creativity wasn’t flowing. I hadn’t lost the feeling of wanting to create.
That novel that made it to 50k words in 2010 will never see a world outside of my hard drive, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to write. Looking back on it, I probably worked on that novel at some inopportune times, but what I learned about myself through all of that obsessing over getting to 50k words is something I’ve carried with me up until this very moment. I do have the drive and the creativity to write a novel-length story. I can make the time to get these things done if they’re truly important, to me. I will think about these parts of myself every time I get ready to type out another piece that I can be proud of, because that feeling of creating something produced and molded by my own creativity is what I enjoy most about writing.
Don’t think about how many words you’ve written for National Novel Writing Month. Instead, think about how many times you sat down to work more on your novel. Don’t compare yourself to others who have double or triple the word count that you have. Instead, think about where your novel is going, and get yourself excited for getting it there. And ultimately, remind yourself that November is not the only time that a drive to write several thousand words of your own creative content can exist.