NaNoWriMo: Writing every day?

On Sunday 12th November, after achieving a monthly word count total of 29 thousand words (according to the NaNo dashboard this is 2,200 or so word average per day since 1st November) I took the day off. I had home stuff needing attention, and a partner who did too! I felt guilty all day that I was letting myself down. I had, after all, committed to writing every day for the month. It was not just the NaNo target of 50k words driving me but a decision to make a commitment to the act of writing – to develop my process as a writer which I hope will improve my skills. In making such a commitment I have listened to other successful writers. Stephen King in his amazing and inspirational book ‘On Writing’ suggests that in order to develop his craft he has committed to writing every day, and to achieving 2000 words from each writing session!\ I pondered the feelings of guilt before I went to bed. All day is a long time to feel bad about not writing. So I thought again about developing my writers process – what did I want to achieve – certainly not guilt. Who needs extra, and self imposed negativity in one’s life?

• I want to have a writing routine and for this I need a writing goal.

NaNoWriMo is a seductive and empowering way to begin the process of developing a routine. For newbies it begins a habit. For those of us who have done it before, it gives us the kick in the pants to perhaps push ourselves harder, with more discipline, get out of our comfort zone. It also gives us a goal. 50k words in a month is not a novel but it is a goodly chunk of one, and, it is a challenge to achieve (assuming one does not have 8 hours a day to dedicate to writing which most non-professional writers don’t).

• I want to prioritise my writing.

Susan Sontag also believed in the importance of writing regularly and consistently. She wrote about prioritising her writing over other things. I had chosen ‘other things’ over the writing I had promised to do and importantly it felt like a ‘day off’. The writing had started to feel like something I needed to ‘escape’. It strikes me that it is counter productive to set goals which then shift from being motivational towards burdensome.

I think the lesson learned is that I need to develop my own process. Being inspired by other writers does not mean that their process is right for me. I haven’t worked it out yet. I like the idea of writing every day but suspect this is not a realistic goal for me. I need to think more about the time I want to commit to writing every week and also, importantly, to the concept of ‘breaks’ and/or ‘holidays’ from writing. I very much want to hold onto the joy and fun of writing for pleasure. Writing is the most extraordinary adventure. If writing becomes simply work or a task which must be completed, the quality of my writing will suffer – if indeed I continue to write at all.

I fully intend to carry on with the NaNoWriMo month – and indeed to ‘win’ by achieving 50k words by the end of the month. When that is done, I need to think more about what I want to achieve from my writing and the best pathway to the fulfilment of that achievement.

#stephenking #onwriting #writersprocess #nanowrimo