October is almost over and November is bearing down hard, which means NaNoWriMo is looming on the horizon like some kind of monstrous demon, blocking out the sun. I shouldn’t be so negative–NaNo is literally one of my favorite times of the year–but this time around I’m a little scared of it, because once again I’ve decided to alter the goal, and I’m about 100% sure I’m not actually going to make it this year. But, then, NaNo isn’t suppose to be easy, so really I have nothing to complain about.
Last year, instead of doing the usual 50k word goal novel that most NaNo-ers strive for (some strive for far more, of course, but the 50k is standard), I filled my word count with short stories. This turned out to be phenomenally easy for me, as I came out at the end of the month with 130k+. Experiment success there, but since then, I’ve done very little with the stories I spewed out, which has me contemplating how to do things differently this year to harness the energy of NaNoWriMo toward the areas of writing where I need improvement.
My biggest problem, like many, many writers before me, is getting to the end of a story and actually polishing it to a state where it can be submitted. Weirdly, I’m actually more leery of submitting things that I’ve worked on long-term than I am about things I just dashed off at the last minute, so “polish” is a real sticking point for me. In light of this, I’ve decided instead of word sprints and seat-of-your-pants speed-writing, I’m going to spend this NaNo freaking finishing things.
To this end, a word count goal is not helpful. The word count goal is set to encourage people to ignore their editors, but I want to get friendly with mine. So instead of word count, I’m going to aim for time spent working on my writing each day–two hours. Is two hours an absurdly large amount of time? It certainly feels like it is to me right now, but that’s the idea, right? To pick a goal that’s just outside the realm of plausibility in your mind? And it’s not like 14 hours a week is even a part-time job. Really, it’s just a starter on how much time an aspiring writer ought to be dedicating to the craft.
In conclusion: for the upcoming month of November, I am going to spend two hours a day, every day, writing and polishing short stories. Blog post writing time does not count, but time does carry over (so if I spend three hours one day and one the next, that’s the goal met). By the end of the month I want three stories in a ready-for-peer-review state, starting with this dragon story I’ve been dragging my feet through for the past six months, because five rough drafts is entirely too many rough drafts and it’s time to put some polish on that sucker.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What’s your goal this year?
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” -Dr. Seuss