Gettin’ my NaNoWriMo on – or how word count can fight fear

I am assuming that everyone knows what NaNoWriMo is, but just in case you don’t, it’s a writing community challenge, in which people sign up to write fifty thousand words during November.  The idea is that you can get a novel – or a draft of one, or the bones of one, anyway – written in a month.

A lot of people love it and some have gone on to produce published, even award-winning novels from it.  But until now, I have avoided it.

This is partly because November is often a busy month for me and partly because I have never liked word count as a measure of progress.  Contrary to a lot of writing advice, I edit as I go, which means that when it comes to comparing numbers of words written in a day, I can’t keep up with people who like to write a ‘dirty draft’ then fix it up later.

But… while I’m cool with how I write, lately I’ve been finding that I just haven’t been getting enough done.

Now, I could put this down to a number of things.  I have been busy lately and this November is not going to be any less busy than usual.  It would be easy to cut myself slack and say it’s just life.

But I think there’s more to it than that.  I think I have been succumbing to The Fear. This fear has always been with me when it comes to writing.  It’s the fear that I won’t be good enough.  That I won’t be able to do justice to the ideas in my head and that I’ll let down my characters and my readers.

You’d think, now that I’ve had a book published, that the fear would lessen.  But in fact I think it’s got worse.  It’s not conscious – it certainly isn’t rational – but lately I’ve noticed that my productivity has gone to hell and I think this might be the cause.

So, I’ve decided that a concerted push at just getting the words down might be just the ticket to get me over this hump.  I probably won’t sign up at the main site (link above) mostly because I really don’t need yet another online community to keep track of.  But I will keep track of my progress here.  At the beginning (or end, maybe) of each post, I’ll report how I’m going on the numbers, with the hope that, at the end, of the month, I’ll be well over this hump, have heaps of work done and have created new habits that will keep me steaming ahead into next year.

And to keep me motivated, I will have this clip from Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King) on high rotation:

Except that, with apologies to Aragorn, Tolkien, Peter Jackson, et al, in my head the words will be something like this:

I see on this blank page, the fear that would take the heart of me.
The day may come when the courage of Melda fails,
When I forsake my vision and break all bonds of story;
But it is not this day!
This day I write!

Do you have anything that holds you back from things you want to do?  How do you handle it?  Seriously, I’d love to know! 🙂

Static pictures on this page courtesy of  Clip is from Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, featuring Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn.

21 thoughts on “Gettin’ my NaNoWriMo on – or how word count can fight fear

  1. LOLOLOL. Man you make me laugh. Go Imelda! Slay the all seeing eye that would disrupt your wordy flow! Throw into the lava and spank it’s butt or something. Go bravely forth onto the white computer screen and sully it good and proper with your genius.

    • With my genius, you say? Is that really what you want me to sully it with? Go on, admit it, you want to draw me even further to the smutty side! Actually several of my male acquaintances are convinced that’s what I write anyway, so maybe it is time. 😉

  2. Imelda, Good post, again. This is also a busy time for me (the worst being the June period when the 50/30 challenge occurs) and while I’m not going to ‘officially’ sign up, I plan to try to write, like you, along with those who are. Maybe we could have an ‘unofficial Nanowrimo’? Last year in June, I acutally finished a first draft which wouldn’t have happened if not for my sprint room buddies. Wonder if we could use the RWA sprint room? Are you up for it?

    • There’s a NaNo group in the RWA Forum. It’s in the ‘Writing Room’ group and apparently they’ll be doing sprints nightly in the forum chat room. I just went and had a look and there are already some unofficial NaNo’s there, so wanna join them? I’m off to sign up – and take a deep breath!

  3. Ah, wicked, I was going to send you a TWEET about THIS in case YOU didn’t KNOW about it. I’m entering, entered, and signed up already. Looking forward to it! Must wrack my brains for an idea or two, though. My first concept is; “50 Shades of Pink” and is “50 Shades of Grey” verbatim but, HARK, the genius change of every “grey” to “pink”. They’ll never notice. Anyway, comrade, I wish you luck in the conquest! May I suggest you write one called “The DiCaprio Code” about Leo being unablen to say “Rose” properly throughout Titanic. I believe indicates Aliens actually sunk the Titanic, and Leo DiCaprio is an Alien from Mars with marauding tendencies. Should fill a book!

    • Your idea, ’tis genius, Monsieur! But sadly, now you have put it on the interwebs, I cannot take it, for fear of later sue-age. Not by you, of course, you are of far too high honour, but your dependants and heirs, Monsieur, who can tell what they shall do? They may even turn into Poirot, which is what I appear to have done… I think I already have my project – unless I twist at the last minute into something completely new, which could still happen. There are two whole days before the first of November…

  4. I’m in for NaNo this year. 🙂 I’ve been a book-writing machine whilst my poor little MG is on sub–apparently insane productivity is my coping mechanism. Also, whoa, worked in the park instead of in the office today, and realised how much more I get written without the internet tempting me. Oops! *slap on wrist*

    • Insane productivity is a very good response to stress! Keep it up. And yes, sadly, I know what you mean about the distractions. Hence me heading out to the coffee shop very shortly! Write on! Come back and let us know how you’re getting on!

    • Hello, Chrissy! It’s a big thing, isn’t it? I feel like I’m standing on the 10 metre diving board, adjusting the bathers and wondering what possessed me to climb up here. But there’s only one way down now. So I’ll dive and see what happens. Good luck to you too and thanks for coming by the blog!

  5. I am in for Nano and have been sucked into trying Scrivener at the same time. Hows that for a time suck. Of course what I really want to do now is sit down and watch the entire extended series of Lord of the Rings….

    • LOL, Fi, I have been wanting to try Scrivener for ages, but put it off on the grounds that it could be more procrastination. If I make it through NaNo with a decent word count, I’ll hop into it. (And I’m avoiding the extended series of LOTR as I type)…

  6. Well I signed up yesterday after spending hours and hours thinking about it. I thought this will be a good motivation to finally get out of my head this story… I have the FEAR… I could not explain what this fear was until I read your words. This is exactly it. In my head, the story is beautiful but I fear in my writing it won’t be as good…
    I intend to keep a word count on my blog too.

  7. I have never successfully completed Nano but I have to get 30k done soonish. 5k done – fear has descended. Can we trade daily word counts? I want to do 1k a day any more a bonus.

  8. Pingback: Update on NaNoWriMo | The crafty expat

  9. Pingback: NaNo, Planning, Persistence and the curious incident of the dog and the blog post* | Wine, Women & Wordplay

  10. Pingback: NaNo’s history – so what’s next? « Wine, Women & Wordplay

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