Sunday the calendar switches from October to November, and with it comes the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNo WriMo). The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days – or an average of 1,667 words a day.
For some this seems like a Herculean feat, particularly in a short month, and one where (in America at least) we are dealing with Thanksgiving as well as the prep for the impending winter holidays.
I speak from experience when I say it is doable. I have won NaNo WriMo* seven times.
You may say “Amazing” but here is the kicker. My last win was in 2011, and I stopped writing the story about half-way through the month, and made up the rest of the words with notes about the story. Yes I did write the required amount of words, and yes they are about the plot and characters, but it wasn’t actual story on page. So my last legitimate win was 2009.
I have signed up for, and participated in (at least nominally) NaNo WriMo every year since 2003, but these past several years have been less than stellar. I think, in part, this is because I stepped down as municipal liaison for my region. In theory this meant I had more free time in November to write as less of the time would be spent organizing and running the local events. In practice it meant that the obligation I felt as a leader figure to meet the goal was suddenly lifted.
Honestly, I thought about not signing up a few of these most recent years, but I had friends participating, so I made at least an effort for the first few days. Recently I came to realize that my depression might be part of why I wasn’t winning – I couldn’t bring myself to care about much of anything, so why should I care about writing 50k in a month?
This year, well, I’m not as excited about NaNo WriMo as I have been in past years. I know I can win, if I put my mind to it. I also know I can fail spectacularly (just a little over 1,000 words one year). Yet I have signed up for it again, in part because my online writing group has done so, in part to stay connected with my new writer friends from the Out Of Excuses Retreat 2015-On A Boat, and in part because my sibling has signed up, and I want to be an encouragement to them, as well.
The last part, the one that I am having to remind myself, is that I like writing. When I write, I feel better. And, honestly, I haven’t written much this year. Like, at all. I hate that I have to trick myself into writing – to use my group and my pseudo-obligations as an excuse, but that part of my brain where the depression lives is quietly whispering “what’s the use?” So in part, my participation this year is a bit of a “screw you” to my depression.
Because if I want to continue to call myself I writer, I need to get my butt in the chair and write.
So ask me about my word count – keep me honest. And maybe, by the end of the month I will have reestablished my writing habit, or, in the very least put up a good fight my depression.
* Wins mean writing 50k+ words- though not not necessarily finishing the respective stories- in November