Tackling (and failing) NaNoWriMo.


NaNoWriMo, for those who don't know, is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place yearly in the month of November. Since 2008, I've done this challenge most years (save for 2012) with varying degrees of success. The object of the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel, or a novella, within a month. I won (winning constitutes writing at least 50,000 words and uploading your writing to the site to have your word count verified) in 2011, with just over 51,000 words of a zombie epic, which I lovingly referred to as "Zombie Cold Mountain" (the actual working title was "Resurrection"). Since then, the project has remained largely untouched, as I reached a point in the story where I became stuck and didn't know where to go from there. I've revised bits of it, and started hashing out ideas for what to do from the point where I stopped, but my attempts to actually sit down and finish it have ended up with me watching videos of corgis on YouTube.

Since 2011, I've attempted two different stories - a story of a werewolf hunter searching for the individuals who killed his family, save for his youngest sister, and a supernatural/historical mash-up involving a family of witches, time travel, and WWII. With the former I managed a little over 16,000 words, and my latest attempt found me stonewalled at 1,600.

This year, I feel like I have many excuses for not meeting the word count - I had two friends, and family members come in from out of town all within the span of a week, and I was dealing with some personal issues that left me feeling pretty low, uninspired, and scared (everything is perfectly okay now, for those who may be worrying). Our current space isn't conducive to much of anything, but especially creativity. It's hard to sit in our dark den, in an uncomfortable computer chair, at an oddly put together desk, or in our kitchen at our table, and try to force myself to feel creative. I explained this to Brad, sure he would think I was silly, but he completely understood.

Again, there are many excuses this year. But there always are any time that I don't win NaNoWriMo.

I love writing, but over the past couple of years it's become more of a struggle. I loathe to have an unoriginal idea, and sometimes coming up with something "original" is practically impossible. Few stories are original anymore, all borrowing from the same stories, the same themes. It's something that I just need to get over. There's also this sinking feeling that I don't have enough hours in my day, so squirreling away time to sit down and force myself to be creative is difficult. I used to be a bit of a night owl, staying up until midnight or later most nights. But since moving in with Brad, I go to bed at a fairly reasonable hour, which removes a couple of hours from day ...

See? More excuses!

At the end of the day, I'm okay with not winning NaNo this year. Would I eventually like to complete some manner of novel? Of course! But maybe not right now, and I'm okay with that. If I have to tinker with a bunch of ideas that I really don't care for in order to get there, that's all right. I'm quite content to churn out a couple of sentences here and there, until something finally picks up steam and becomes something that I actually want to write about. Maybe "Zombie Cold Mountain" will be that story, or maybe it will be something else entirely.

If nothing else, NaNoWriMo forces me to sit down, even if it's only for a little bit, and put pen to paper, so to speak. The hardest part of writing sometimes is just sitting down and doing it, tapping those keys until something begins to take shape. Sometimes it does and doesn't go far, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am going to try writing something outside the confines of NaNoWriMo. Perhaps in the new year, as the following few weeks are ramping up to be quite busy. I'll make every month Megan Novel Writing Month! There may be different word counts, a different set of goals, but the act of just sitting down and committing to something on a creative scale may be the kick in the butt that I need to finish something worth sharing. ♥