On Your Mark…

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The race to the NaNoWriMo finish
line is on! Photo credit | EKHumphrey
The race is on!

Today marks the start of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. I don’t know if you are like me, but I have signed up for NaNoWriMo each year for the past gazillion years. In fits and starts, I have tried to reach the finish line. This year is the first year I think I may actually complete my novel. Why? Well, besides the fact that I’ve finally added a couple buddies (and hopefully more!) to my account, it’s the first year I decided I wasn’t going to try to finish. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either. But stick with me.

Each year, I sign up and I’ve set my expectations really high, which includes the idea that not only will I finish, but that I will win, be discovered, and…you probably can imagine the rest. Each year I’ve received the emails from the organizers for motivation or to check in. Many years I leave them unread. Some years I’ve read them and quickly deleted them, but with a sinking, guilty feeling.

What makes this year different? Three reasons:

  • This year I have created no unwieldy expectations for myself. This is probably the key to my deciding to jump in because setting expectations almost always creates a place for me to step in and fail. With no expectations going into NaNoWriMo 2014, I have nothing to lose and only something to gain. Expectations can create an incredibly high hurdle and this year I vowed to simply try, which generally brings me a more positive outcome. (I’m not setting the expectation, as I have in the past, that I will reach the daily writing goals or that I’ll make it the full thirty days. Effectively, I’m hoping to trick myself into crossing the finish line.)
  • Organic encouragement. Since my graduate school days, joining a writing group has been on my list of things to do. Instead, I signed up for NaNoWriMo each year and made excuses for not finishing. Now I have two capable and fun writing buddies—one who lives overseas and one who lives nearby—to encourage me and for me to encourage. (And it doesn’t hurt that my oldest child has discovered the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. She’s gung-ho, so now we can be in this marathon together.)
  • Thirty days of writing: a beginning with an end. I search for writing retreats with the dream that I will finally have time to write. (See family obligations noted above.) It’s foolish to think my life’s schedule will change in the near future, so thirty days of writing in the midst of Thanksgiving and teaching editing and my daily job is a goal I can work toward. Keep my chaos going and I will conquer it! Even if I find time to write for only twenty minutes during the month, then that equals twenty minutes more than if I hadn’t decided to participate. And I need to start somewhere toward writing the novels that are in my head.

One of the best reason to do it this year? You. I’m kicking off the month of November writing on The Muffin, then I’ll be back in the middle of the month and then at the end of November. It seems like destiny!

Whether you are diving into NaNoWriMo or not, I hope you will check back on my progress. And if you are diving in, good luck!

Have you tried NaNoWriMo? Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what keeps you going to the finish line?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer, editor, and serial NaNoWriMo unfinisher living in North Carolina. She just realized that she needs to write about three times this amount daily for the next thirty days…and has fainted from the thought.


make.share.give said...

Watching your progress from the finish line :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Elizabeth--I'm working on a NaNo from a couple of years ago. I've started from scratch--more or less--and have 19,000 words done so far.

Back then, I got to 50,000 but it was a steaming pile of poop.

My goal (a small one) is adding 15,000 words during my NaNoCrocIt challenge...and hopefully the aroma of this one will be more pleasant.

Good luck, Elizabeth.

Margo Dill said...

I'm signed up and started already this morning. I have 582 words. Here we go! :)

Renee Roberson said...

I've signed up and completed almost 1,700 words today on my contemporary YA, which is my daily goal. I like NaNoWriMo because it usually takes writing marathon for me to finish a rough draft. There's something about being involved and telling people about what I'm doing that holds me accountable. I'm really flying by the seat of my pants on this one, though, but I'm determined to have fun with it!

Good luck everyone!

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