This year was my first NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) and I signed up with all the enthusiasm of a rookie. ‘Ok’, I said, ‘this is only going to triple my current average word count, no big deal right?’ Fair enough that is a slight exaggeration but I saw the task as being completely achievable albeit with a few minor adjustments to my normal routine – getting up earlier to work, writing through lunch, cramming more into my evenings and skipping activities such as cooking! I am suffering after a month of eating quick-fix meals I must confess.
Anyhow, the point is I am so stubborn that not winning (i.e. achieving the target word count of 50,000 words) was just not an option. I knew that my inbuilt competitiveness would kick in (competing with myself does not subdue the urge to win at all unfortunately) and force me to achieve the word count no matter what.
And so it began. Week one was easy thanks to the novelty value of this ‘game’ being all new and shiny and I could update my word count online each day and watch the little blue bar increase. Sadly week one lulled me into a false sense of security because by week two life started to get in the way and my word count slipped a little. By week three I was behind the target word count and had reached an uneasy standoff with the blue bar.
Suddenly the end seemed totally unachievable and a little depression sat in. After all, wasn’t what I was writing totally rubbish anyway? My muse had gone. What was the point of writing if it was just a churning of static scenes and half-developed ideas? Confidence was slipping, enthusiasm was zero.
Intervention: half way through week three I gave myself a severe talking to. What was I thinking putting myself off like that? I knew it would be hard, I knew it was three times my usual word count! Of course it was a challenge – uh that’s the whole point! The blue bar became my ally. I had to help it eradicate the grey and reach the end before the end of the month. I just had to. I would never forgive myself if I failed.
Week four catch up commenced. Yes it was hard, yes it involved a lot of concentration and sacrifice but I did it. I knuckled down over the last weekend of November and broke through the 50,000 word barrier. It felt great, I won’t lie. This is a legitimate time in my life when being a stubborn so and so actually paid off. Next year I will definitely be signing up again if only to beat my score!