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Okay, so let’s talk about November, the National Novel Writing Month.

It’s clear from my posting that I “lost” NaNoWriMo. A lot of things happened in November that made it a rough month. First, I started off the first week sick, but I still wrote that week. A part of the writing was stubbornness, a part of it was me making a promise to everyone out there in the ether of the Internet that I was going to do it. All I did that first week was write and sleep though, so it was a rough start, but a good start. I like to think the second week went well too. It was the third week that things started to unravel. I seriously hurt my ankle on Monday of the third week, couldn’t take time off work, and I have a job where I’m on my feet all day. So, I was completely wasted when I got home. I tried to work, but my quota of pages took a nose dive. It was clear by the middle of the third week that I was not going to complete NaNoWriMo. It took some of the pressure off. I was able to get some really good writing squeezed out of what I did do.

This was the first time I’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo; and one of the points of the exercise was to share my impressions of it. Which are, as follows. 1) It was fun. I had fun. Not because of the deadline, not just because of the story, but because every time I sat down to write I thought of all the other people that were writing that day/week/month as part of NaNoWriMo. Writing is a very solitary act (at least the beginning part of it where it’s just you), and taking part of NaNoWriMo made me feel a part of something, a community of writers. This, in turn, made me think of everyone that follows this site, and how I hoped seeing me writing would inspire you to write. So, the togetherness (as separate as it was) was pretty cool. This was a surprise for me. 2) Writing with life is hard. Especially if writing isn’t what you use to pay the bills. I want to stress what I’ve talked about before: if you want to write, you need to cut out time to do it. I got a few pages after work, before my wife got home, and in the mornings on the weekends before she got up. Sometimes my wife has to work on the weekend, Saturday, and that’s a boon of a whole day! Yay! My point is: if you’re a writer you have to write, so you have to find time to do it. 3) Just because you “lost” NaNoWriMo doesn’t mean you’re not a writer, and it doesn’t mean the story you’re writing is over. The story is done when you say it’s done. I felt bad, at first because I didn’t get the fifty thousand words. I’ve written that in a month before, so I was upset with myself. However, my situation was different when I did that, so that mitigated some of the despair. The other thing that dulled the grief of the lost, was the fact that the end of NaNoWriMo isn’t the end of the story for me. I’m going to continue the project because I liked it so much. I’ve got a good start on my hands, I like the concept and the characters so I’m going to keep going. I think, for any writer, that’s a good thing to take away from NaNoWriMo, it’s a challenge, but (and I think this is the point they’re trying to make) it’s not about whether or not you actually get fifty thousand words in a month, but that you’re writing, and that you keep writing. My wife works with someone who “finally beat NaNoWriMo” and got the fifty thousand words, but the story “needs about forty thousand more to be complete,” so she’s finishing it. That’s awesome! Again, NaNoWriMo is a jump start, a starting point for creativity and writing, not an end goal, not a finish line.

Those are my biggest impressions of the NaNoWriMo challenge. I think it’s fun and useful. If you’re not a writer, I think you should try at least once to see what comes out of you. You might be surprised. If you are a writer, it can help you find the fun in writing again (it did for me), and can help you feel a part of a community that sometimes is sorely lacking in the profession.

I would like to say, in case it was too subtly slipped into the last paragraph, that I am continuing A Dinner For Crows. Like I said, I like the concept and the characters. So look for it around the website (not soon-soon, but soon-ish).

Until next time: Be you, be well. Write you, write well.

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