This week was a walk in the park compared to last week thanks to still writing every day and keeping mostly within 500 words of all daily word count targets.
That does not mean that this week has been easy. It has not. I'm actually 3000 words behind today (Friday) and I woke up feeling like the last thing I want to do is write. I don't know why, because I love writing. But I also know that sometimes the things you love most can also feel the hardest to do.
If in Week 2 I was reminded how easy and tempting it was to consider giving up, in Week 3 I have learned that being brave enough to continue is not reward enough. Just because I decided to "woman-up" and catch up on my 9000 word deficit last weekend, does not mean that I was rewarded with a needy muse not leaving me alone all week. In fact, quite the opposite happened. I had to abandon my "Write from A to B" approach and jump scenes in order to keep me feeling engaged, interested and most importantly, clear-minded about what I was writing. This means my manuscript now resembles a Salvador Dali painting, all abstract and bent out of shape, rather than the clean, straight-lined Mondrian I was going for.
Then there was that moment where a penny drops, loud and echoing in the back of your mind.
"Oh my goodness. This is utter tripe."
I normally have this moment in Week One or Week Two so it was an unwelcome surprise popping its head around the door to say a doom-filled hello on Day 18, but it happened and I felt my heart sink and my mood wobble around from "irrationally emotional" to "inexplicably irritable" for half a day. (My boyfriend loved that.) It was only thanks to surviving this moment twice before and having what I worked on turn into two books that people have enjoyed reading that I then sat back down and wrote more "utter tripe" anyway.
It was also this week that I realised how much change is going to have to come. I don't mean just editing the "utter tripe" to make it something enjoyable, I mean changing how I approach this story. Changing the techniques I use to tell this story. Potentially changing - or ripping out completely - story arcs and key events and moving them around so the book is the best possible version of itself. All this will take time, lots of time.
But it's a marathon, not a sprint, I tell myself.
Yes, but when all you've written is 28,000 words of "utter tripe", you feel like you haven't even started running the marathon yet, I shout back at muself. Truth be old, I have spent most of this week in the changing room, pulling my shorts up and tying my shoelaces together
Most of this week I've felt like the only reason I'm still writing is because I'm stubborn and I cannot imagine the shame and hypocrisy I would feel if I gave up after telling you not to. I also know how good I'm going to feel on 30th November. Tired, doubtful, daunted by what's next, but man, I'm going to feel good.
You are too. Even if you don't make the 50,000 finish line. Even if you only manage half or a quarter of that, you will feel good too.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. NaNoWriMo is not about winning.
Keeping on, keeping on. That is what NaNoWriMo is all about, one word after the other.
Frances M. Thompson
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