I did. I won. Through sheer stubborn madness, I wrote 1666 words a day and broke the 50k word plateau on November 30th, 2012. It actually felt...easy at times. Like it wasn't a big deal. Other days it felt like pulling teeth. Days where I just didn't want to freaking write, ya know? Those days from childhood where I felt like "No Mom, I don't want to do the dishes, I did the dishes yesterday and the day before that. I JUST DONT WANT TO DO THEM TODAY!!!" I didn't want to write more words. I didn't want to waste my time in a make-believe world and figure out how to write this scene, or this character, or fix this plot-hole, or decide where this character was going or why, or what would happen when they got to this place or...The list goes on. I created a world that lives in my mind and keeps growing with always more questions, one after the other, answers always leading to more questions. What happens now? What happens next? Why would they do this? Why wouldn't they? Why do they care? Why did this happen? How is this going to happen? They have no end and at times, I just didn't want to deal with them. I didn't want to think hard and come up with solutions to the various plot/character/story problems, even the basic problem of "what comes next?" I didn't want to do it. I wanted to veg out, watch tv or play video games, distract myself with 100 different things to do. But I had to. I had to write those words because I had a deadline. A somewhat meaningless deadline, but a deadline none the less. Motivation to keep going.
And I enjoyed it. I enjoy watching the scenes unfold, seeing my mind vomit new ideas that I'd never consider before, seeing my characters react to the situations I hurled them into. Even though I know I enjoy it, it is difficult to find the motivation to write. I find excuses and distractions everywhere and in everything. It's easy. It's why a huge amount of college students take Adderall these days despite very few of them actually needing it or having a prescription. The problem with that is you never learn to get rid of the distractions yourself, you never figure out how to really focus and just get shit done without the meds. Or at least, I imagine that's so. I'm kind of glad I never got into taking it because it sounds like an easy way to get used to it. I could have seen myself getting into it quite easily since I am one hell of a procrastinator. Ten-page paper? Wait till last night to do it, take some Adderall and finish it in one frenzied focused night, churning that shit out like a printing press. I'm getting off topic.
I participate in Nano because it forces me to write. I have to ignore the distractions and write or else I won't get those 1667 words down that day and that means I'll have twice as much to do the next day and on and on and very soon I'll get into a big hole and that 50k ending will forever be out of my reach. Sure it's basically meaningless. Winning does not provide anything beyond satisfaction. There is no prize money, there is no prize at all other than the writing itself. That writing provides the satisfaction. The ability to say "Here, I fucking wrote this, 50000 words of crap but I sat on my ass and I typed one word after another and I put in the time and effort to string together a plot of some sort filled with characters and a setting and all that shit that a novel needs. Look at it. LOOK AT IT!" It feels good.
See, I have many ideas. I have an overflowing well of ideas, bursting out of my subconscious into the fruitful fields of my conscious. The problem is my mind is a graveyard of ideas. It's a veritable prison of ideas. It strangles the very life from my ideas and leaves them dessicated pitiful wrecks, mere shades of their former creative glory. That might be putting it a bit dramatically, but its true. I come up with ideas that are great at first, imaginative, powerful, vivid, beautiful...and then my mind stalks up behind and stabs them in the back with a dagger, the dagger of reality. When I go to put my ideas into words, they crack and crumble, they become stale and boring and lifeless. They don't become what I envisioned and I falter, the once noble and proud idea becoming corrupt and frail, shattering apart into many pieces. So I keep my ideas inside my head. With walls of "That sounds stupid" or "How would I even do this?" or "I'm never going to be able to make this work". My mind-prison has guards of "Why even bother?" and "It will never be published" and the worst one, the evil slithering snake of an excuse, the warden of the mind-prison and all out torturer: "You've got the scene/idea in your head but you can't quite figure out how to write it down, why don't you take some more time to think about it first?" That is the worst one of all, the one that keeps me from writing the most. I trick myself into thinking, "hey, if I just take some more time, I will be able to write it super quick and flawlessly later." It's silly and stupid. False logic. The trickster at his worst. It's great as well, as long as I keep telling myself that, why, I never need write anything down at all, ever!
And that's why Nanowrimo is so great. It doesn't matter if you have the perfect way of writing that scene or idea down, you have to fucking start writing anyways because you've got to get those 1667 words down on freaking paper because the next days going require another 1667 more words, maybe a new idea and scene as well, so just get writing and who cares if it sounds awful? You can fix it later, get it down because pretty soon you'll be on the next scene and the next idea and the one after that and so on, until finally, after 30 frantic days and hours tapping keys with gnarled fingers you've got an entire story down, 50,000 words, read 'em and weep, baby, there they are. And you know the best part? Some of those scenes and ideas are incredible, are amazing, worked out perfectly just as you wrote them because hey you took the time and effort to write them down instead of leaving them sitting idle in your mind gathering dust and chained up in your mind-prison of doom.
It's what happens when I try to start a blog post. I get ideas for posts but they stay locked up, the keys swinging on the warden's belt telling me I should just wait, wait because the idea isn't perfect yet and you don't even know if it's worth a whole post so why not just keep it locked up in there for awhile?
Nanowrimo forces me to tear down the walls, kill the guards and warden and release the imprisoned ideas from their shackles, let them fly and write them down and who cares if they suck? It feels great.
Hopefully, the more I let my ideas escape, the easier it will be in the future. Hey, I broke the chains on this blogpost idea, didn't I?
(PS: If you think National Novel Writing Month is a cool and awesome thing (which it totally is!), and you have some disposable income, then go and donate whatever you can to keep them running it every year. They run entirely on donations and essentially motivate hundreds of thousands of people to express their creative side for a whole month. https://store.lettersandlight.org/donations
And hey, don't just donate, join me next year. Anyone can do it and it's a hell of a good time.)