We all have excuses for why we don’t write. Work, kids, Netflix marathons, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve written before about how difficult I find writing for fun when I write for a living. And yet, for one glorious, stressful month a year, we put all our excuses decide, meet up with friends and strangers in coffee shops and on twitter, and try to bash out 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo four times, twice successfully and twice without completing the word count—although successfully doesn’t mean that I finished the book, simply that I hit 50k by November 30th. I’ve been wanting to do it again, but Novembers have been particularly packed for me the last couple of years. An excuse, I know, but November 2016 was my busiest month of work ever, and last November I spent most of the month in Ireland before moving around the world. This November is going to see a similarly crowded schedule; I start the month hiking the Milford Track, where I obviously won’t have a laptop but probably will not even take up precious pack space with a notebook (and I wouldn’t be handwriting 1,667 words per day whilst I hike anyway). The rest of the month will be spent getting ready to leave Wellington, celebrating Steve’s 30th, and moving to Australia.
So November’s out for me this year, but even if it’s the “official” writing month, taking a no-excuses approach means realising that NaNoWriMo isn’t about the write-ins or the motivational emails (as lovely as they are): it’s about GETTING THE DANG WORDS ON THE DANG PAGE. And I can do that any month. I can do that in September… I thought, yesterday, a mere twelve hours before the start of the month in which I am now attempting to write a minimum of 30 thousand words.
NaNo writers are generally separated into two categories. Planners are the ones who start the month with a careful outline, copious notes, character sheets, and so on. Pantsers open a blank word document and see where it takes them. Deciding to make September into an impromptu NaNoWriMo around noon on 31 August is definitely a pantser move.
Now, because I’m not actually following anybody’s rules but my own, I’ve decided my personal WriMo is going to be slightly modified from the ur-WriMo. Instead of 50,000 words, I’m going to try for 30,000. And instead of the madness that accompanies the start of every NaNoWriMo, where we all try to start strong with 3 or 6 or even 10 thousand words in the first couple of days to compensate for the writer’s block and endless despair that will inevitably set in around week two, I’m going to keep it slow and steady. Just a thousand words a day, give or take. Obviously if I’m on a roll, I’m not going to stop mid-sentence because the word counter ticked over from word 999, but I want this month to reignite my passion for writing, not just leave me with another unfinished manuscript, and that means creating a habit.
Finally, I’m also going to include writing I do for this blog, Harsh Reality, or anything else similar, in my word count. While I really want and definitely to get some fiction written, I don’t want to neglect my other personal projects. Especially because I’ve recently started working on something new that I’m pretty excited about (but enough on that for now).
The 600-ish words of this blog post is not counting toward Day 1 because I’m actually writing it on 31 August and scheduling it to post, but hopefully by the time this goes up on my blog I’ll be well on my way to 1,000 new words. If you see me this month, ask me what I’m writing.