By now you are no doubt aware that I have been writing a series of articles on my experiences of writing the first draft of my first novel in NaNoWriMo 2011. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organisation that supports us crazy people to madly write 50,000 words in the month of November every year. With the 2012 NaNo just around the corner, I wanted to share with you the last two articles of this series so that we can get fired up for putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) with wild abandon on the 1 Nov.
Writing 50,000 words in one month is a challenge. You only realise just how hard it is when you actually get there, staring the multitude of words required square on in the face. This is especially challenging if you are full time employed as you need to make a plan to cut into private time to get it done. Depending on your own habits, that might mean getting up at 5 am to get a couple of hours in before work or at night once everyone has gone to bed. One of the biggest lessons I learned on how to achieve a successful NaNo is the support you need to get you there.
Let’s start with your immediate family. If you live alone and have no children, then all is good. There are no distractions and responsibilities. Yet you miss having someone push you and root for your success. If you do have a family, yet they do not support you to achieve this wonderful goal you will feel like the month is a battle instead of being fun. I was blessed to have a husband who wanted me to succeed. Every night when I was coming up with reasons why I should watch TV for just that little bit longer (“Just 5 more minutes!?”) he would put his foot down and send me off to write. I hired him a huge pile of DVDs and in the month I think he worked through about three seasons of “House”. If you are keen to do NaNo then I really advise you to look closely at your home environment and plan how you can make this work for you.
The other big win for me in 2011 was that I found a writing buddy. My friend Heidi had long shared my dream of writing fiction and had a project she wanted to work on. We agreed to push each other and it worked. Every night one of us would text the other to say how many words we had done or how we were dreading the night of writing. Our competitive natures got the better of us and it really helped to get me going when I really did not want to. I think that this fun and supportive connection really made the difference for me. As I face NaNo 2012 I know that I need this support in order to succeed.
From an online perspective, there is fantastic support to be found through the regional and city NaNo support groups. They host write-ins and there is always an interesting conversation to participate in on the forums. At the end of NaNo we celebrate by gathering together and sharing our war stories. Twitter also bursts into life with NaNo activity and is a wonderful way of feeling connected to others on the same path, yet can be a horrible distraction when you are looking for it.
Perhaps the biggest area of support comes from something else entirely. No matter what your belief and religious/spiritual views may be, the creation process is one of co-creation. I have written about this in a previous instalment in this series. Our creativity, hard work and sweating effort allows something to flow through us. Call it energy, God, quantum reality, or whatever, you can feel it when it is flowing. It is exhilarating and excites every cell in your body with, “You are vibrant. You are alive with possibility.” If we try to write without this connection, we really are lost. You can easily see in your writing where it is your mind creating convoluted plotting versus a flow that is symbolic, deep and powerful.
This co-creation process is like a bio-feedback loop. As we swim in the quantum soup so do we experience an interaction with our environment, if we are open to it. I experienced this as shocking signs of evidence that my world, my quantum matrix, was engaging with me in my desire to create through words. As an example, at the celebration of the end of NaNo, I was sitting outside telling my friend Heidi about how I used music to get me through, one performer in particular, whose CD I listened to over and over throughout the month. Literally one minute later this same performer walked past me. Clunk (sound of my jaw hitting the table).
The signs and symbols that you are connected to help beyond what you can imagine are all around you. If you are contemplating doing NaNo this year, then just do it. It will change you. The creative process will change you. Ask for help, rally your friends and family, and be open to the co-creation process it brings.