I’m officially done on NaNoWriMo – 50, 265 words in twenty-nine (ish) days – phew! There’s lots more writing to be done and a whole load of editing, but still, this has been a great experience and quite inspirational in its own way. Just having something behind you pushing you *ahem* forcing you to write each day, actually reinforces what you can achieve. Perhaps it is too easy to say I’ve been busy at work, or must read someone else’s book or lose some time on Facebook…
One of the best things about NaNo has been the regular motivational posts they send you to keep you going. Of all these my favourite came on Day 2 (which I’ve copied below to share with you) and I think has probably given me the best idea for something I can take away and keep doing after November, because goodness knows you couldn’t keep rolling off 50k words a month indefinitely! (Sorry – going to go off at a tangent now) NaNo is a bit like speed walking – ‘speed writing’ if you like: when you speed walk, you look more silly than you would do normally, but you are driven and have a purpose for wiggling those hips in a slightly odd manner; speed writing is the same, you go a bit faster than usual, probably write some downright silly stuff at times, but you have a clear start and finish and it gives you something to aim for.
So, back to being motivated…Kate DiCamillo wrote one page every day – whether it was good or not, needed editing later or got deleted altogether…she wrote it. That’s what seems to be important about NaNo really – just get on and do it! Don’t flap, don’t edit, don’t procrastinate…just write it and sort the problems out later. Writing in this way can feel quite cathartic, especially if you’ve been sat on a book for a while (figuratively speaking, obviously) – you just put it down on the page, instead of leaving it turning over and over in your head.
So – I’m NaNo’d out for now – I’d definitely give it a go next year again, just to get a kick-start…but in the meantime, I’m now back to final edits on RMT…slightly less inspiring and creative, but altogether necessary 🙂 Hope you like Kate’s letter:
When I was 30 years old, I moved to Minneapolis and got a job in a book warehouse. My official job title was “Picker.” This meant that I went around the third floor of the warehouse holding a computerized print order in one hand and pulling books off the shelf with the other hand. I put all the books into a grocery cart and I took the grocery cart and wheeled it into an ancient, crabby freight elevator and went downstairs to deliver the order to the shipping department. Then I took the stairs back up to the third floor and started over again.
It wasn’t a challenging job. It didn’t pay much. I was on my feet all day long. My back hurt. My hands hurt. But I was happy. I was surrounded by books and by people who loved to read them. Also, for the first time in my life, I was writing.
I got up every morning before work (the alarm was set for 4:30) and wrote two pages before I went into the warehouse. And then, when I arrived at work at 7:00 to punch the time clock, I received my daily so-you-want-to-be-a-writer pep talk from a coworker.
Let’s call him Bob. (Even though his real name is Gary).
Bob wanted to be a writer, too. But he wasn’t writing. Every morning we had the same exchange.
Bob: “How did the writing go?”
Bob: “How many pages did you write?”
Bob: “Do you think Dickens wrote two pages a day?”
Me: “I don’t know how many pages Dickens wrote a day.”
Bob: “Yeah, well let me tell you something, you’re no Dickens. So what’s Plan B, babe? What’s Plan B for when the writing doesn’t work out?”
For this question, I had no answer.
I turned my back on Bob, pulse pounding, fists clenched, and climbed the stairs to the third floor and started picking books.
When the alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning, I thought about Bob and that is part of the reason I got out of bed.
It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.
But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don’t believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.
So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.
In other words, do it for Bob!
Your friend in writing,
Kate DiCamillo is the author of The Tale of Despereaux (Newbery Medal), Because of Winn-Dixie(Newbery Honor), and a The Tiger Rising (National Book Award finalist).