This year hasn’t been a great year for me and my writing. It’s been a great year otherwise, but I did almost no writing. So here I am, on the verge of November and NaNoWriMo, thinking about how to make it through the grueling challenge of writing 50k words in 30 days—and then into the rest of my writing career. And I’ll admit: I’m starting to get a little nervous. So I’m thinking about how I can help myself, how I can make this coming month a success. Mostly this means that I’m thinking about accountability.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions going into 2014 was to write every day. In an effort to make this goal as easy as possible and thus easily accomplished, I decided that it didn’t matter how much I wrote on any given day—it could be 25 words or it could be 2500 words—but it had to be fictional. And for January and February of 2014 I managed to do it. I generally wrote 200-500 words a day—not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but impressive to myself nonetheless. I kept a spreadsheet of my word counts each day (and which project those word counts had belonged with) and was altogether proud of myself.
And then I stopped. Not for any reason, but my spreadsheet has no entries for anything past February.
I’m always thinking about stories in some fashion, always turning over particularly nice turns of phrase, imagining characters and their peculiar quirks, scribbling notes on scrap paper so I don’t forget anything even when I’m not near a computer. But this isn’t the same as doing the real work of writing, of putting words into sentences into paragraphs into chapters, of creating a story. And this real work step is the next step I need to take.
So now NaNoWriMo is fast approaching (3 more days!) and I have a vague semblance of a plan. I have some characters; I have a setting; I have, if not an actual plot yet, the events that will kickstart the motion of the plot and hopefully allow me to roll towards a real story. That knowledge, plus time and enthusiasm for my story, gives me what Rachel Aaron called her “core requirements” in her book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. It’s these three things that allowed her to springboard to practically astronomical word counts per day, and which I hope will help me get to the magic number in November.
“Are you ever going to bring this blog post back around to accountability?” you may well ask.
Well, in an effort to keep myself on track this NaNoWriMo, I’ll be updating this blog at the end of every week with progress reports: my word counts (daily and cumulative), my general impressions of this year compared to other years, and progress on my story. I’m hoping that holding myself accountable to my (still very small) audience here will be the last push I need to finally win a challenge I’ve been participating in every year since 2006. (Actually, I think I skipped 2007…) This means you’ll see me around a lot in the coming month.
Wish me luck!