This January, I am looking at what I learned last year, so I can do better this year. The first post was about Christmas, but now the festive season is well and truly over. Epiphany (the feast of) has come and gone, the Christmas decorations have been put away (with the exception of the one that got missed, which will now sit on the windowsill until Michaelmas*) and it’s time to think seriously about what 2013 has taught me about writing and what that means for 2014.
*I don’t know when that is either. But it’s a long time from Christmas and it sounds good!
First, partly because it’s the most recent lesson, and because it encompasses some other things I’ve learned about me and writing this year, I have learned that…
…NaNoWriMo is not for me (don’t all faint at once).
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a joint effort where people around the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in November. People do it as a way to encourage them to write. The idea is to give yourself a challenging word count every day for a limited time as a spur to persist, push through and get down some words.
It sounds like a good idea and for several years now, I’ve given it a go. In none of them, have I got anywhere near writing 50,000 words. More to the point, I think I would have written more in November if I hadn’t attempted it. And here’s why:
- Arbitrary goals set by someone else (or even set by myself) with a ‘win’ or ‘lose’ status attached to them get my back up. There are a few reasons for this. One is that I think I’m naturally ornery. I don’t like being told what to do. Even when it’s good for me. Maybe especially when it’s good for me. But it also stems from my long and disastrous relationship with weight-loss dieting. I have learned the hard way that diets don’t work. They set you up by making you obsessed with food, then telling you not to eat. They divorce you from your natural relationship with hunger, by dictating what, and sometimes when, you will eat, with no reference to individuality or circumstances. They make you crazy. (There is a much bigger post – indeed, thesis – in this, but I’m restraining myself because that’s not what THIS one is about.)
And I worked out this year that NaNoWriMo feels like a ‘diet’ to me. An arbitrary set of rules, that may or may not mean anything useful, that you ‘win’ if you follow and ‘lose’ if you don’t. This makes me cross. It Continue reading