Seems crazy to take an already busy life and stuff it to overflowing with a project so big that it encompasses writing a novel in a month. Seriously, who is crazy enough to do that? And who has time for it anyway?

As it turns out, there are thousands of people who are crazy enough, and likely, not nearly that many have the time for it. Only crazy people do that, right? Stephen King, Anne Rice, Marissa Meyer, Chuck Wendig, Arthur Conan Doyle. Surely, they are all crazy. Perhaps, but they are all known for having written novels in less than a month.

For National Novel Writing Month, which NaNoWriMo stands for, 50,000 words in the 30 days of November is the goal. It’s lofty: 1,667 words per day. For perspective, newspaper features are usually 1,500-1,800. It’s probably a comfortable chapter in a children’s book. When I freelanced, I wrote one or maybe two per week. Many writers write 500 words per hour. Many writers write 2,000 words per hour. When it comes to writing, and all creative endeavors really, comparison kills imagination and joy.

Just picked up reading glasses a year after having Lasik. So much computer time makes my eyes burn. My other life-saver when it comes to writing: Gum. Ideas come easier when my jaw is moving, but my hips don’t take in quite so many calories as they would if it were skittles or chocolate chips or even almonds.

So anyway, here I am, November 7, with actually a 10-day writing streak. Because October is Preptober. I prepped for NaNoWriMo by practicing writing. 

This summer, I worked on my blog and my novel during two two-hour sessions per week. I pumped out one or two blog posts most weeks and 500-1,000 words on my novel. I made significant progress on my story because I structured time and made writing a priority.

And that right there is the whole brilliant spark of NaNoWriMo. The key to a successful career, whether it is writing, painting, glasswork, accounting, auto mechanics, is the day-in, day-out, get up and work on your craft. It’s easy for writing and artistic pursuits to be pushed to the side as hobbies, even though they are lifelines for many people and valuable in their own right as they bring beauty and understanding to the world. Yet, it is the “More Serious,” “Financially Responsible” pursuits that understandably are made a priority. How many more people would be more satisfied with their lives, more content, perhaps more healed, if they made space and time to regularly work on their craft? 

For me, I’ve been writing since I was little. I seldom am without my pen and notebooks. I’ve worked on a computer professionally on and off for almost 25 years. I wrote a novel without an ending for NaNoWriMo 2014, then I let life intrude and didn’t write except in my journals until last fall. With the prompting and urging of a couple friends, I pulled out that novel, saw that it was an excellent start, but also realized that I had four other concepts that I wanted to work on first. 

So here I am. I started October with less than 50,000 words on my novel, worried about creating a monster of a book. An editing friend suggest thinking about it in terms of a trilogy, and I’ve leapt on that idea. So I spend October training myself to write longer and more frequently, working up to daily writing sprints, because the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. 

I’ve made it a personal goal to write 2,000 words per day every day for November. I’ve written every day. Most days I’ve come close. Two days I approached 2,500 words. I’ve made significant progress on my story because I now think about it every day and brainstorm scene ideas regularly. With that regularity, the writing is coming easier. I now can see that I will definitely finish this first novel and start the second one by Christmas.

So while I struggle with NaNoWriMo, because just like everyone else, I don’t wanna go to work every day, because writing is work, and sometimes the words don’t flow, I’m at least showing up. Putting my seat in the chair. My fingers on the keyboard. And that is success.

So here’s to you NaNoWriMo2019, and a huge thank you to all the organizers and support staff that keep it rolling.

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