I can’t believe National Novel Writing Month is over. After writing that intensively for so many consecutive days, after updating my word count on the website after every writing session and watching the graph grow, and after keeping track track of my writing buddies’ word counts and the forums, it feels strange not to be doing all that anymore.
I think therein lies the biggest value of NaNo: it provides community and a tool to help you visualise your writing progress. Both of these have incredible power to motivate. During NaNo Steve Bradshaw wrote this playful rant in which he stated,
“The truth is writing is not glamourous. It’s not fun. It takes hard work and dedication, just like any other job. And if people need to be forced to sit down and actually write – if they need to be egged on by other writers, and told exactly where the finish line is – then maybe writing isn’t for them.”
As I responded in my comment to his post, this is exactly the point. In any “normal” job you get regular feedback, be it from you superiors, peers, subordinates or customers/clients. If you do something right or if you do something wrong, you’re sure to find out within a reasonable period of time (if you screw up, usually instantly…if you do well, at the annual Christmas party).
But writing is largely devoid of feedback. You aren’t even guaranteed a salary. A little thing like a word count graph helps so much. As does sharing your writing woes with a bunch of others who are going through the same thing. I did not spend much time in the forums on plots and characters and so on, but I followed the forums of my adopted region. I encouraged some people who were struggling and were encouraged by them in turn. And it helped. It helped to know I wasn’t alone.
This week I’ve been missing that. The word counter is no longer working and the forums are all but deserted. It feels like a school when all the students and teachers have left for the holidays, but the office is still open. You know you have work to do, but don’t see the point in doing it if there’s no one around.
Because I still have a lot of work to do. I am not feeling the excitement of having finished a novel (because I haven’t – I still have at least 30 000 words left before I can claim that achievement), nor do I need the warnings that it’s not yet ready for publication (because I know it’s not – there’s at least another year’s worth of work left before I can even consider approaching agents/publishers).
But I’ve been a little lethargic since crossing the finish line. It could be from last week’s 2am writing sessions. It could also be that now that NaNo’s over I’m allowing me to think about my real life again, which is currently filled with frustration and uncertainty (but that’s a post for another day). The point is, I haven’t been able to get myself to write since Saturday. I haven’t even opened my novel on Scrivener.
I know what I need to do. I need to sit down and keep writing. But I’m missing the external motivations. I need to find some internal ones. I need to remind myself I wrote 51 000 words in 25 days. I can finish this thing. 30 000 by Christmas should be easy. Shouldn’t it?