Just Write

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Writing | 0 comments

NaNoWriMo is officially over for another year. For those who don’t know what that is, during the month of November, you are challenged by…yourself…to write 50,000 words, the length of a novel. That means, in 30 days, a person has to consciously sit down and write out a novel. He or she has to sit in front of a computer and just write. What is written is unimportant, and cheating at this is irrelevant. Though I do not condone cheating at anything, were a person to think about cheating at NaNoWriMo, there are a lot less time consuming and less frustrating things to cheat at. Not only that, the only prize a person gets is a certificate of completion. About ten years ago, possibly more, possibly less, I attempted and completed National Novel Writing Month for the first time. As I didn’t know about it until almost the middle of the month, I had a lot less time in which to complete the competition. I was undeterred, however, and I began. I still worked at my regular job, still did the other things I needed to do in my daily life, though I believe I slept less. I started on November 13, and by November 28, I had 50,000 words, a smashing headache, and an amazing sense of accomplishment. One might think that because I finished so quickly, it had to have been easy. It was, in fact, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I sometimes sat down and cursed at my keyboard. I sometimes stared at my blank screen for an hour before I could think of something to write, and sometimes I wrote about how much I hated doing this project. The last 1000 words were both the easiest and hardest words to write. I was so close to finishing and my mind was blank. I had put ideas out on paper, short excerpts from stories running around in my head, cursing and railing at the computer, and I thought I had nothing left. I closed my eyes and just started typing. Before I knew it, I had finished the last three pages and turned it in just after midnight on the morning of the 28th.

One may ask, then, why do it? Two words: Just write. The entire reason behind doing the competition like NaNoWriMo is to get a person to start writing. I didn’t bring up my experiences with NaNoWriMo to brag, I brought it up to say it can be done. Writing a novel always starts the same no matter who a person is. It starts with writing one word and adding to it. It starts by just sitting down and getting it done.

I get people telling me all the time that they’re writing a novel. My response is always: “That’s great, let me know when you’re finished.” I know I’ve mentioned that before, and it’s still true today. The best way to finish a novel is to just write. We have to sit down every day, make time for our craft, and just write. There will be times that nothing comes out, nothing looks good, and it’ll feel like we’re wasting time. That’s okay. If it was easy being a writer, everybody would finish the Great American Novel in a month or less. There would be no need for editors or publishers, and everyone would have gleaming novels whose words were gold. Writing is messy and frustrating and hard. We just need to make sure we keep going forward and keep writing one day at a time, sometimes even one word at a time.

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