Today was not full of perfect quiet with unending inspiration where writing the first words for my NaNoWriMo project came easy. Did I make my word count for the day (1667 words to reach 50K goal at the end)? Yes. But I did it with a last minute push out of pure stubbornness and a desire not to feel like I failed right out of the gate.
I shook my fist at the writing gods this morning when, within a half hour of waking up fairly early to get a good start on things, I found out that someone had hacked my credit card and was taking a little road trip with it. (BTW, make sure to check your credit cards for even small charges. It could mean your card number has been stolen and is being used until you catch them with ever increasing purchases).
After an hour that raised my blood pressure and made my morning coffee superfluous while trying to take care of that crisis, I finally had a few moments to calm my nerves. That’s when the wasps started coming into the house. It’s happened before, and I finally found the source of them. But it’s not fun when trying not to piss off wasps while killing them. I spent most of the day entirely too jumpy at any type of noise having found one in the window right by my desk. By the afternoon, I had only written a little less than 700 words and had given up trying to reclaim my mojo.
We have a very active NaNo regional group with a Facebook page and several meetings, or write-ins, scheduled. I’m lucky in that respect, although I tend to do better writing while isolated. But I joined in the NaNoWriMo fun in order to expand my community, so I do intend to go to one or two of the write-ins if not for anything else than others who understand when the writing just isn’t coming.
I spent most of my day obsessively watching the stats of one crazy guy who is attempting to finish 50K words in one day! One day! My best day of word count ever was about 10K words, and I thought my head was going to fall off my body. He’s been working off a very detailed outline and posting his word count one or two times per hour. He amazes me, and yet I can’t stop checking to see if he can make it. (At this time, he’s got a little over an hour left, and the last time he posted he only had 5K words left to write – that means he’s written 45K words today and is very possibly going to reach 50K!!!!!) Update: He, @mattabooks, did it! He completed 50,000 words in 24 hours! I’m gobsmacked!
We could talk about the importance of racking up the words to increase the word count or “win” NaNoWriMo and contrast it to whether or not that kind of writing to a word count affects the quality of writing. But on this first day, I will give word count more importance. Part of what NaNo is supposed to do for us is to take away the need to be perfect and increase the ability to just get the words down so that the structure of a story is built. Strangely for me, I found the exact opposite happening.
Since I’m taking this year’s challenge more seriously, I guess my hyper-perfectionist, editing brain kicked in. I questioned every word I wrote today. It took the desperation of the final hour creeping up for me to finally sit my butt in my chair and just write. And what happened? After a couple of minutes, the words just started to come. They weren’t perfect, but they served the story. I’m sure they will change, but that didn’t matter to me as much as a scene flowed out of me. Before long, I had passed the required 1667 words for the day, posted my word count, and then quit.
My favorite author, Neil Gaiman, said once, “The process of writing can be magical…Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” To get to the end of my journey, I will have to heed those words each day and drop my need to be perfect. At least I can celebrate the fact that I rose to the first day’s challenge and met the goal, actually surpassing it by a couple of hundred words! I hope others were able to reach their goals as well, and that we can all keep at it to the finish, whatever that may be for each of us!