Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

Today is Nov. 16th, roughly halfway through National Novel Writing Month. Time for a pep talk!

For those of you still participating in this event, way to go! You're already a cut above the rest by sticking with it this long, regardless of what your word count is right now. Those of you who started strong but gave up due to [insert excuse here], it's not too late! Put the boots on and launch back into that word count with renewed ferocity. And to the rest of you who never crossed the start line, it's not too late for you, either! You'll have twice the work ahead of you than most NaNoWriMo-ers, but it's not unheard of to make that 50,000 word goal in half the time.

The halfway point was hard for me. Sure, I had kept with the daily word count goals I had set for myself, but I was still only halfway there. Real life was already doing its best to derail my progress and the last half of the month would bring with it the additional complication of the Thanksgiving holiday. An already uphill battle for a guy who had previously only done 3-page short stories was going to be even more difficult.

I had every reason in the world to stop. My friends wanted to hang out with me again. Family wanted to spend time with me around the holiday. Work drained my energy during the day, leaving me running on fumes at night. And then there was that ever-present noise in my head, telling me that I wasn't good enough, I'm not a real writer, I should stop trying so hard and give up now.

You know what I did? I kept writing anyway.

My friends understood that I had a passion and needed to stoke that fire in me. Family had to sleep, and there was always that time late at night or early in the morning when they weren't awake yet and I could lay down some more words. At work, I would write on my lunch break and during my commute to and from the office. I stole every possible moment I could from the day to meet my daily goals, and I'll be damned if I was going to let the world keep me from crossing the finish line.

As for the noise in my head? It was always there, and always will be there. Self-doubt is nothing new to writers. Even the seasoned vets still hear that voice drilling doubt into their brain. The trick is to hear it without giving in to it. Recognize that voice, smile and nod at it, then go ahead and write anyway. If you have to, say aloud, "I will make it to 50,000 words." Make it your mantra. Don't worry about sounding crazy, everyone assumes writers are weird anyway.

You can do it. I know you can, and deep down, you know you can, too. Stick with it, you'll be glad you did.

See you at the finish line!

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