This is my fifth year of NaNo-ing, ie writing more than 50,000 words during the month of November. In each of the last four years I’ve easily exceeded the word limit, but have only actually finished two of the books, even though last year I got to more than 80k words.
So, what is it with NaNo that is so addictive? For me, it’s all about the competition. No, I don’t compete with other writers, I don’t even look to see what my buddies are up to, I’m competing against myself, and against the clock, so to speak. Last year, I got to 50k words by Nov 16th and 70k by the end of the month. This year I’m at just under 40k, and somewhat disappointed in myself, so I now have to beat the word count at the end, which means doubling what I’ve done so far by the end of the month – doable but hard.
I have always been able to write a lot of words. I enjoy writing. When I’m on a roll I can write 10k words in a sitting and be writing until three in the morning and not notice. This year is very different, because I haven’t been on a roll for some time. I’m struggling to make the words.
I’m still writing, still getting things done. I haven’t got writer’s block as such, because the words are there, they’re coming out, but I have to pretty much force myself to sit down and work, Procrastination has become the black dog sitting on my shoulder, and I’ve suddenly become addicted to games that never interested me before. I have been examining why this might be and I have come up with some ideas.
Firstly, I’m writing in a new genre – fantasy. I’m having a great time looking up fantasy worlds, fairytales and all kinds of fairy ‘stuff’. I’ve got folders of clothes, places, people and…things. I have the story mapped out roughly in my head; a series of scenes I have to link together. I know I’m getting carried away with describing the places and people who populate them. I’m having way too much fun and I’m worrying that there’s too much description and too little of things actually happening. Then, when something does happen, it feels forced.
Secondly, I’m so freaking hung up on grammar that the placement of a comma is becoming more important than the sentence I’m placing the comma in. Yeah, my inner editor has always been there, but his influence has increased as my knowledge had increased, and now he’s shouting in my ear constantly. It’s hard to ignore him, and easier to just close the document and head off to twitter or facebook for a while.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been reading some pretty awful books lately. Why have I been reading awful books? Because I’m a sucker for a good story, and if I’m enjoying the story I stick with it even if it’s not actually written very well. Anyway. after two books’ worth of errors my editor is hypersensitive and being a complete pain in the ass.
Thirdly, I’m getting my nickers in a twist over the whole American/British thing. It doesn’t help that my son is being educated at home and I have to sit in with the tutors, so I’m listening to lessons on British grammar, then having to wipe those lessons aside to write ‘in American’, and anyone who thinks Americans speak the same English as we do has never had their work edited by an American editor for an American publisher (or vice versa if you are American). It goes very much against the grain, and every grammar lesson I’ve had, to misspell words like colour, favourite realise and alright, because that’s what my editor/publisher wants. I cringe every time and it gets in the way of the flow. I find that I’m writing half in American and half in English and it confuses me.
So, I have all my excuses ready to convince myself it’s not really my fault I’m playing facebook games, or writing a website post, when I should be writing. But, as I love writing, and I love my story, I’d better go get writing because whatever I say or whatever you might think of NaNoWriMo, there’s nothing like a sense of competing with yourself to get you off your arse (not ass) and writing.