I barely pulled this one out. Did I write 50,000 words in 30 days? Yes. Was it pretty? No.
As I've said before, NaNoWriMo isn't a challenge for me, as much as it is a learning opportunity. Don't get me wrong, it's hard. But I learned so much from it compared to the last few times I've tried and failed.
In fact, I learned more during this month's 50K challenge than I have in the last few years combined. I learned how to outline a plot, I learned how to focus better, and I learned that actually putting words on paper is only half the work.
Really, I learned that my brain doesn't function linearly. I kind of knew that already. But when you're trying to stick to an outline and are struggling for words, the dreaded ADHD kicks in, and it goes something like this:
"Okay, I finished a scene. What's next?" Looks at outline. "What if I did this instead? Where did that idea come from? I must chase it down a rabbit hole!" 1 hour later: "I haven't written anything in an hour! Now I'm out of time, and I have to stop and do housework!" Bang head against desk.
I've had some success with soothing background noises, courtesy of MyNoise.net to help me focus. When that fails, I crank up loud music in my headphones. When that inevitably fails, I get up and go for a walk. But really, being able to crank out words is essential to becoming a writer. I mean, writers have to write. But that's not what I struggle with the most.
The toughest thing for me to deal with is the desire to make this book perfect. I mean, deep down I know I'm not going to have the time to write full-time while my kids are at home. And so my hopes of writing are hung on a single book, and whether or not it'll be good enough to break into the market. So I put myself under a lot of pressure to make it a phenomenal book, and I keep trying to second-guess myself. "Is it edgy enough? Is it funny enough? Is it realistic enough? Is it _____ enough?"
But my hopes and dreams of becoming a writer are hung on something I can't control. I could write the very best book, and it could flop. I could write complete trash, and it become a best seller (50 Shades Of Grey, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) But for today, I can sit back, and take a hard-earned break.
I'm encouraged by people who make it big, or at least can quit their day jobs to write. But there's no guarantee I'll get there, even if I'm an excellent writer (and the jury's still out on that one). So why do I do it?
Because I have hope that someday, somehow, I will get my chance.
And I don't want to miss that.