It's the halfway point for NaNoWriMo and I'm only a third of the way there with only fifteen thousand words. It's been a busy month and you know what? That's okay, because I'm still writing. I'm writing right now actually, and I've evolved a bit of my thinking on what it means to be a writer, and how challenge myself with goals like NaNoWriMo.
The word count doesn't matter. It just doesn't. Once it does then you're no longer focused on a story, you're focused on how many words you can write in 30 days. Yes, I plan on doing my best to reach the 50k goal by the end of November, but does my ability to write cease to exist in December? Nope! Is this challenge about developing good habits or about finishing a full publishable book in only a month? I'd prefer to develop good habits. Writing a book takes much longer than a month.
It doesn't matter what I'm writing as long as I'm writing. I'm writing here in this blog as well as on my novel. I installed Linux on my MacBook this month, wrote about it, and learned a lot. That's success and self improvement is what NaNoWriMo is all about. I've improved this month. So I win. I have a lot of plans to use this blog to develop my writing abilities. Even now as I type these words I'm scrutinizing myself and thinking of all the others who may stumble here and scrutinize it as well. I'm putting myself up for display here and that again, is what writing is all about.
Don't keep going if you're stuck. Keep writing, yes, but don't keep pushing along a story that you have no ideas for. That's not normally what people tell you. They say things like, "Get the words on paper." or "Let the characters take you where they need to go," or even, "This herbal tea will guide your spirit animal in forming the missing sentences." To that I say what Yoda said to Luke, "Wrong you are. Work that doesn't always!" (it's from a deleted scene I swear). I found myself stuck this week. Not knowing where to take my characters. I tried to trudge ahead and they guided me somewhere completely irrelevant to the story line. That's not okay. Not with me at least. If I write fifty thousand words in a month, but have ten thousand words of wandering lost characters, than I've only really written forty thousand words of actual plot. So I stopped, backed up, fixed what needed to be fixed, and now I'm ready to push them in a better direction. Now I don't have to go back in December and rewrite a crap ton of words that I just "pushed through." Different techniques work for different people. I've decided this works for me. I need to know where I'm going. I need Google Maps up on my iPhone before I drive downtown. It's how my brain works, and that's okay.
I'm really excited about developing as a writer. I'm a little nervous too. That's good though. I can take all that energy and guide my spirit animal to meet up with Yoda for a cup of Earl Grey. Hot.