That Winning Feeling!

November for many writers is a month of ambition, skill, daring, and coffee-induced delirium. November is a month where we persevere and disappear. 
In November, we write 50,000 words in 30 days.
November is NaNoWriMo.

Some may say, "Sure, 50,000 words sounds alright, will you show me the book when it's done?" or "have you finished this book thing yet?," but those people are the ignorant ones... the non-writerly folk who have probably never even read 50,000 words in their lifetime let alone typed out that many. Okay, I may be over-exaggerating here, but honestly, most people who have never written before will not understand the discipline that it takes to actually write down 50,000 creative, inspired and awesome words. 

So last month (can you believe it's December already?) I attempted NaNoWriMo and I've got to say, it was hard. The first week is exciting because of the motivation and eagerness in yourself, on the forums and at local events. But once you hit week two you end up dipping down into a dark pit of chocolate-eating depression, where you keep telling yourself that you were stupid to think you could ever achieve this impossible milestone. Week three is better, especially if you kept writing through week two. Often in week three, you will find yourself behind on the word count though (as I read a lot through the forums, and experienced myself) and that's okay, it's normal. Week three is time to get the interest back in the story and, once you've hit the half-way mark, to see a bright shiny book-light at the end of the tunnel. Week four is different for everyone.  Some people find week four, with it's shiny end-goal in sight, very motivating and productive. Personally, I slacked off in the first half of week four and found myself having a 15k race to the finish line with only three days left. But I did it. I reached those agonising, painful and exciting 50,000 words. I won. 

The question that most people ask though is, "what did you 'win'?" And here's my answer:

- Discipline. A daily writing routine that slaps you back into the writing groove.
- Motivation. Even at the hardest of times, you're spurred on by the end goal.
- Peer Encouragement. People at the local write-ins and on the forums are ultra-supportive.
- A Novel. Whether good or bad, finished or unfinished, you've written 50,00 words of a novel.
- A Dream. You can finish the first draft quickly. You actually can.

When I passed the 50,000 word mark I danced around the room in my pyjama's, drinking a celebratory glass of coca-cola (no wine, I had to drive) and feeling wholeheartedly elated at what I had achieved. This book was meant to be written. The story was fleshed out. And the only thing that was lacking was the 'butt-in-chair' hard work of pressing those keys and writing the story out. And in 30 days, I achieved just that.

NaNoWriMo is not for the faint-hearted. What I learnt is that your whole heart and its bloody, beating, red-hot life force need to be in it. But if it is, and if you are willing to sacrifice your social life, your time, and perhaps some sleep for the month, then anyone can do it. You can write 50,000 words in a month. You can write a book that quickly. I did.


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