Bonnie Taylor ShakedownToday's Tune:
First! You guys know I'm running a contest for the next two weeks, right? A big one? With signed books and manuscript critiques? You should enter.
Next! I contributed a guest blog post for TL Conway's great big NaNoWriMo blog party. You can view my entry here, and there are lots of other great entries from great bloggers around the 'net about NaNo thoughts, strategies, and more.
Speaking of NaNo, I had a few more thoughts I wanted to add on top of my guest post. So here are those thoughts, and then you can hop on over to TL's and read many more great posts :)
I mention in my guest post that I'm a big fan of NaNoWriMo because it gets people to actually sit down and write. And I stand by that. However, I think it's important to keep a realistic head on one's shoulders and understand what NaNo is truly about: proving to yourself that yes, you can be a writer. You can write a novel-length work. You can write every day. You can create something from scratch. And all of those things are very important and inspire a lot of people.
However, NaNo is not a key to success. It's not the magic pill that will make you an accomplished novelist, or create an immediately publishable manuscript, or even train you on how to incorporate a realistic writing schedule into your life. NaNo is a fun, competitive bonding experience for people who want to be writers. But let's face it: 1,667+ words a day isn't a realistic writing schedule for most of us, especially for those of us with other jobs or family obligations. It's fun for a month, but it's not something most people can stick with on a regular basis.
Sometimes it's easy to fall into the NaNo trap... dictating our worth and dedication as writers based on how quickly we can churn out pages and how high our wordcounts get. It can lead to being more concerned with numbers and appearances than the quality of what's actually going down on the page. It can lead to burnout and shame when we don't meet our lofty wordcount goals, which leads to writer depression/anxiety and eventually giving up altogether because you can't "keep up."
This is why a dear friend of mine -- Johnny Dale, author of the YA serial The Darling Budds -- created a site dedicated to writers who want to try a different tactic. The site's called It's Not A Sprint, It's A Marathon, and it's dedicated to helping support writers in finding a healthy and realistic daily writing goal that works for them. It's not about carrying the competitive and overzealous spirit of NaNoWriMo throughout the rest of your writing life, it's about finding that pattern of regular writing that's right for you.
So, this month, if you decided to do NaNo and you find yourself falling behind for whatever reason, don't worry. Not everyone can swing 2000 words a day. And that is okay. It doesn't mean you're a failure, or a poor writer. You just need to find the path that works for you.
I'm wishing the very best of luck not only to November's NaNoWriMo participants, but to all writers out there who are trying to find the place where they fit in. I'm here to reinforce that it's okay to let go of the wacky wordcount goals and constant Twitter updates about your status. You can do this. You just need to find the right path :)