It’s already day 12! Time is flying and I am beginning to wonder how close I will actually come to reaching 50.000 words by the end of the month.
I had expected to write copious amounts in the weekend and therefore be under less pressure during the week to write a lot. But, as ever, I should not count my chickens before they are hatched. Saturday was a slow day. I had some vague ideas roaming around in my head, but they were just that, roaming and therefore hard to grasp. There were words, sentences, images, emotions but very little structure. Every so often I thought I caught one, but when I started to write, the flow dried up after about three sentences and it was back to mulling, chasing and feeling the words slip through my fingers like quicksand.
I am not sure how many words I actually managed to get down, but it was not as many as I had hoped.
Sunday was a residue of Saturday’s frustration. Starting in the morning, I wrote two paragraphs, and then ran out of things to say. The weather however, was gorgeous so instead of wallowing in it I decided to take advantage and get out into the fresh air. Strolling along a nearby lake with the autumn sun on my face and observing others some with and some without dogs, some alone and some in couples cheered me up. I was able to evaluate my NaNoWriMo endeavors up to now, and be honest with myself about how important the 50.000 words are to me.
When I looked at it clearly, I realized that the idea of ‘just getting the words down’ doesn’t always work for me. Oh, I applied it for the first couple of days and had clocked up a decent number of words. However, reading back on what I had written so that I could pick up the threads and write on, I became disillusioned.
Was I surrendering quality to quantity?
What is the point in writing 50.000 words just for the sake of it?
Do I want to have to scrap most of them come December?
I realized that by taking on this challenge I had in fact created an obstacle for myself instead of getting the juices flowing. That happens to me quite a lot. Once the pressure starts to build, I shut down. Creativity falls victim either to competition or to the need to perform.
So I decided that, despite the word requirement, I was going to throw out all my worries about reaching the 50.000 words and give myself a more important goal: writing this novel in a voice and style that makes me happy and at a pace that the story itself dictates.
In fact, summing this up I can say that external targets, imposed by others, sometimes hinder my progress rather than encourage me. The motivators that work for me are the internal ones, the ones with intrinsic rather than external rewards.
Back behind my computer, with the promise of being true to the story, the words began to flow again, and the characters, who had been suffering my performance anxiety, now came back to life.
So, NaNoWriMo, I continue to write on a daily basis, but it is not the end of the world if my achievement at the end of the month is less than 50.000 words.
Ironically, having decided to let go of the outside pressures and targets and to let the writing come from the right place and at its own pace, I actually clocked up a respectable 2.000 words in a couple of stolen hours before supper!