November is, to most folks who write as either a hobby or professionally, NaNoWriMo month. People set themselves up to crank out over fifty-thousand words in one month’s space of time. For those on a certain side of the political spectrum, it’s probably a been a rough month. For others, they’ve probably beaten their numbers, though I’m unsure if policy briefs and manifestos count as ‘novels.’
Me, I set myself up to fail. And I did so in the most spectacular way possible.
My goal wasn’t to write a set number of words. Instead, it was to write at least three short stories by the end of the month. My writer’s group, as part of their NaNoWriMo prep, sectioned off five hours of time at a local library just for writing. During that dedicated time, I was able to crank out about 5k words per session. Most sessions ended early, so my rate is a little over 1.5k words per hour. Had this been extrapolated across the month, I could have cracked the goal again.
But my goal was reached. Three short stories written, and a fourth almost completed. One has already been submitted to the intended market. So how do I feel about losing?
I regret nothing because I learned a lot.
- Screenplay outlines are my happy place – I was able to plot out the stories and get everything set because I returned to my home, the good old-fashioned Syd Field screenplay outline. It helped me know exactly where I had to go, what each scene had to do, and how to ensure I was never lost in the woods of ‘Well, what should I write now?’
- Given a clear vision, I can write and research at the same time – some of my stories involved looking up real events, or people. I was digging through and confirming information at the outline stage, but also as i wrote.
- Time is my enemy and friend – if I have time and I can focus, I can produce quite a bit.
So what was the hardest part? The usual: “that’s five hours wasted – think of all the chores you could have done” or “Hey, shouldn’t you be working on trying to cross-sell to all of your clients even if they don’t need a product?”
My brain is still wired to never see writing as a ‘useful’ act. It’s not work. It doesn’t earn money (so far) and won’t get me life insurance, mortgage payments, etc. I have to constantly fight my wiring and says, “I need more than a salary in my life. I want to tell stories. I hope, some day, someone reads those stories.”
At the end of November I know, the biggest enemy I still have (next to time) is this guy named Andy Popovic.