For the second time in my writing career, I’ve taken on the NaNoWriMo challenge. Every November, fiction writers across the land hole up for the purpose of cranking out a 50,000-word novel. It took me a year to write each of my two completed novels. Well, two. One year to stop being scared of the project and another year to actually write it. NaNoWriMo is the kick in the pants I need to get past the fear and into the writing.
To produce 50K words in one month, we all but shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. A hunter getting ready for deer season is nothing compared to a fiction writer getting ready for NaNoWriMo. Some writers turn off their phones, disconnect their Internet, and cancel their cable or satellite service. Me, I’m not that extreme. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t get my NCIS fix.
Quality doesn’t matter. Quantity does. It’s all about numbers. So they say. Me? I can’t restrain the editor/English teacher in me long enough to write the 1,667 words per day I need to get 50K done by Dec. 1. I can’t resist going back and tweaking the last page I wrote, or revisiting a previously written chapter to work in a scene to set up something that will happen later. But I’ve learned that keeping a separate document for “things to research” helps me to keep pushing forward.
Fifty thousand words scares me, but not 1,667. As I write this, at 4:49 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, I’m at 12,086 words. That counts chapter titles and notations in the text about what I need to add, change, verify or research. But I have to be careful because we writers are notorious procrastinators, and are afflicted with ADD. Anything—and I mean anything—can get us derailed.
I could have gotten derailed from the get-go. My husband came home from a two-week hunting trip to Colorado on Nov. 2, with 290 pictures and 290 stories—and a pile of laundry as big as a Rocky Mountain. My youngest son, whom we see very little even though he lives in Johnstown, came home for a day. Nov. 1 marked the end of the first nine weeks at school, meaning grades were due. Yada, yada, yada. But I didn’t give up. I simply refigured how many words I needed to write a day to reach 50K by Dec. 1. I can do this.
And so it is with anything in life. Sometimes the mountains we face are daunting, the problems overwhelming, the journey too long. We get derailed or need to tend to things with a higher priority. But we don’t give up. We fix our eyes on the goal, readjust, realign, reconsider—knowing that one step forward is one step closer.
Dear God, heaven is a long way off, and I can’t be good the whole journey. I lose my patience, my temper and my poise too often and get derailed. Remind me when I feel overwhelmed by the world to readjust, realign, and keep moving forward. And when I need it, Lord, give me a kick in the pants. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Hebrews 12:1–2