To Write Or Not To Write

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NaNoWriMo is a quarter over. Yay? I guess it depends on how you’re doing. I’m not sure how I’m doing, I still haven’t decided whether to participate.

That probably sounds strange to people who do participate. I have for years, but I have a lot on my plate this year and I’m not sure I can justify taking time to write with the devotion needed – at least not yet. I have a novel to finish, not that it will take 50,000 words to finish it. Then again, I have to rewrite the first chapter completely, so that would help. Keeping in mind I’d have to trim a lot in revisions, I could add 50k to the story. Now it’s just a matter of if I will.

It’s a hard decision sometimes, to write or not to write. I’m caught up in revising a book then handing back to the monsters who edit it and run the changes by the demons who said they don’t like this or that about the story. And I need to get this all done quickly because I need that book released. Then there are the teenagers and their issues and dramas. I don’t want to think about that right now.

But I like to write and I feel like I’ve been mucking about with teenage dramas too much lately. And book dramas. I need the escape that writing provides. I’ve been making do with reading, even going so far yesterday as to pick up an old go-to fantasy favorite – Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn. If you look it up, ignore the cover – it makes it look like a 600 page romance. Which it is. But it’s a fantasy romance and has a rich world and intrigue and it’s really more about the intrigue than the romance arc. Never mind, I’m babbling.

So to write or not to write. Not writing isn’t really an option, I will write this month and I’ll get a respectable word count (It’s November, I’m obligated to keep track) even if I don’t throw myself into NaNoWriMo. By today, writers should have at least 11,670 words. If I really throw myself into it, I can start on Monday or Tuesday and still make the 50k goal, but is it worth it? Starting off that far behind is stressful, but I’ve finished NaNo with over 60k almost every year and once I had 80k. It depends on inspiration. (I’m a pantser. If I had a plot outline, that would be a completely different story.) I know what I can do (word count wise) when I’m left alone to write and have inspiration on my side. And I know what I can do if my fickle muse is off partying and I’m left with brute determination. I can still do this. But I have a lot of other things to do, they’re time consuming, and they take priority over a challenge I’ve won several times. I don’t need to prove anything to myself or others, it’s just sort of a tradition.

I know this is coming far too late for some of you, the question of whether to accept the challenge or not, but it is a question some writers have to agonize over. Desire to follow your dreams and passion vs commitment.

I think commitment intruding on your time is the reason some people give for not meeting your goal by November 30th. Maybe. I’ve always been more inclined to believe it was a matter of being realistic with your time, at least in the people I’ve talked to over the years.

Last year I urged everyone to face harsh reality when making their schedule. Not their work schedule and commitments to family activities and such, your word count schedule. Yes, there are 30 days in November, so that equates to 1667 words/day. Not everyone will be able to write on all 30 days. Be realistic about it. Remove Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Recovery Saturday from your list. That leaves 27 writing days, so you have to write 1852 words/day. Do you always end up spending a day fussing over a sick child in November or get sick yourself? Subtract another day. Can’t write every day of the week? Subtract four more days, or five depending on the day. Redivide 50k by the realistic number of writing days and get a new daily goal. Then round up. Always round up. I round 1667 up to 2000, but 1700 might be easier to swallow. When I know I’m meeting my goal of 2000 words a day, and that will give me a safe padding of 10k at the end of the month (60k total instead of 50k) it makes it easier to accept little annoyances that keep me from writing with grace. I can make it up, and hey, I have 10k to absorb those issues.

If I start on Monday, November 9, I will be 15k behind. That sounds horrible! Another way to look at it is: I have 21 writing days left (yes, I write on Thanksgiving) so that’s 2381 words a day, round up to 2400. I’d actually round to 2500, rounding to 3000 is almost cruel given that I know the month will be busy in addition to writing sprees.

Fine, 2500/day. Will I have inspiration to help me? Yes actually. I’ve had this novel seething in the back of my mind while I dealt with other things. My fingers are twitching to get it finished. Inspiration makes words flow. I’d feel better if I had a more solid ending in mind. Right now it’s a vague concept and I’m not comfortable with that. It won’t be a problem though.

I suppose I need to work through the weekend and reassess on Monday. Will I be able to get everything done without things falling through the cracks? There’s little point in my mind about taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge if I don’t have a chance to win it. Maybe starting late will encourage me not to be so cavalier about it. Face it, it hasn’t been much of a challenge for me. Except that one year when hubby had a family emergency and I got really sick. That sucked.

This could be a good thing.*

*Always view NaNoWriMo as a challenge of opportunity. If it’s a source of stress so great in your life that you start downing entire bottles of Tums and going through a bottle of wine while you’re writing and another at dinner, then you’re doing it wrong. It’s not worth that.

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