Nanowrimo: It begins

I've committed to Nanowrimo for the seventh year. I almost didn't. It's distressing and frustrating and sucks at my self-confidence like nothing else. It makes me feel like a failure in a way that nothing else can.

But it makes me write.

If I don't commit to it, I don't write a lot of fiction. Maybe a burst every six months.

But every November for the last few years, I've written literally thousands of words. I've brought vague, lingering ideas to life; I've fleshed out characters; I've explored worlds.

Every November for the last few years, I've bashed out incoherent paragraphs figuring I'll fit them in properly later. I've exhausted ideas that I now never want to hear of again. I've killed my love for characters, and tired of worlds.

I've doubted my writing abilities, my imagination, my creativity, my storytelling. I've convinced myself that I'm incapable of finishing anything.

The one year I hit 50,000 words? (50,299 to be precise). I was maybe a chapter away from finishing the actual story. The third quarter needed totally replacing and didn't really fit with the main story. Four or five years later, I still haven't written that final chapter, even though I know what the outcomes are to be. I haven't even typed it all up, let alone re- written part three. I didn't fall out of love with the characters or the world, and I think about it a lot, and it breaks my heart.

Every November I've made a few new friends, and reconnected with old ones. Bonding with someone over Nanowrimo is an experience that stands alone. I've had one more conversation-starter than usual. I've discovered some new cafes and new writing software. My productivity has increased as a result of using The Work I'm Supposed To Be Doing as a distraction from writing.

Every year I tell myself I'm doing it to make myself write. The 50,000 is irrelevant. I just need to write some words. More than none. Then I'm a winner. But not hitting 1,667 per day still feels like a gut-wrenching failure. Finding out someone else is further on than me brings me down a notch. Even with my inner-editor firmly silenced (she crawls into the cupboard of her own accord on the 1st of November these days) the inability to just sit down and churn out words right off the bat is crushing.

But it does make me write.

Writing fiction is my first love. What I wanted to be when I grew up was "author". It was a complicated word I knew when I was quite little. Along with "aspidistra", but that's another story.

Imagine if I'd gone on to study it? If I was writing because someone told me to write? If I had to write to move forward in life? I'd probably have burnt out well before now.

I guess it hurts so much because it means so much.

And that's why I have to get over myself and just get on with it. If... when?... if I succeed, where success is writing a story I'm happy with, regardless of length, the boost will be indescribable. I'll get a new lease on life. I'll be sure I can do anything.

I'm going to the Edinburgh NanoBeans launch party tomorrow. It's at 2pm in Forest Cafe. I'm going to add loads of new people (People Who Understand) on various social networks to increase the chances of being asked how it's going. Mostly I'll just have to shrug and say slowly, and feel guilty about that movie I watched or that extra batch of brownies I baked. But maybe... just maybe there will be a time this year when I can say "it's going great! I'm ahead of target."

And just for some encouragement, here's are some pictures from 2008:

Thanks Nano. I need you. Never leave.

🏷 nanowrimo writing challenges writing

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