You may not be aware of this, but starting this month there are hundreds of thousands of people participating in the crazy idea of writing a novel in a month. The NaNoWrimo movement began about 15 years ago by a nut who wanted to write. He did not set out to draw other people to the idea but found that the compressed time frame forced him to focus on his writing and ignore simple things like nutrition, personal hygiene and consequently social interactions. The idea caught on with other would-be writers and poof a movement began.
November was selected for this movement, although anyone can do it at any time. November, however, gives a greater sense of being part of something. Most writers have no illusion of commercial success. Many will not even finish the month crossing the stated threshold of 50,000 words to be considered a novel.
I know, it is a pretty short novel, but so was The Old Man and the Sea, which was right around 50,000 words. In order to finish this task (which is considered “winning”) one must have discipline and a ready store of caffeine. The math works out to be 1,667 words per day every day, including Thanksgiving. As you may imagine, I keep a pretty tight discipline.
The only other time I participated in this silly event was in 2015 when I was considered a winner by stumbling across the finish line with a little over 52,000 words. This work will likely never see the light of day and will remain stored in zero’s and ones as data on my hard drive. But it did start me on a path of writing which I enjoy. It also encouraged me to say “yes’ when Elizabeth asked me to write Now What? A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future. Without the exercise of participating in the NaNoWrimo in 2015 I would have never accepted the challenge. But having that success under my belt, I knew it was within reach.
So much has gone right in 2020* and true to form the month of November cooperated perfectly by coordinating the end of daylight savings time with the new month. I set my clock back on the eve of waking up and at the unnatural hour of 4:45 am. My body thought it was 5:45 am, so I was right on track and did not miss a beat. The house is completely still. The only sounds are the coffee maker and my fingers flying across the keyboard. Before I know it 90 minutes have passed, and I have 1,800 words.
I know runners have their “high” when they are in the zone (I used to run, but I have bad knees because I was an idiot when I was a teenager). There is no such thing in the writing realm, but knocking out 1,800 words in ninety minutes is as close as I will come to experiencing the exhilaration of what runners must feel (plus, I get to stay in my jammies). It is 6:15 am and I head to the shower, like any good athlete at the end of their workout and proceed to start my day.
It all sounds good and is impressive to some but by about 7:00 pm I am looking at the clock and feeling the sleepies come on in a fierce way. I fend them off and manage to stay awake until well after 8:00 pm when my bed begins the siren call for me to return. This is one of the reasons that the founder of this movement recommended (and he is right) that you get “buy-in” from all the stakeholders in the house. I get permission from my family to be exempt from some of the ordinary household chores during November and permission to not be awake much past 9:00 pm.
December is a time for hibernation and letting the manuscript simmer. For those who take this seriously, it is encouraged that you don’t look at the manuscript until January or February and then begin the process of editing and revising, which will often bring the word count up to closer to 75,000 words. It is still too early to tell whether I will edit and revise this piece, but if it impresses myself and I continue on, I may have something to share with you around this time next year.