“What are you doing for NaNoWriMo this year, Hillary?” Is a thing people keep asking me and I keep answering something along the lines of, “Haha, just trying to survive!”
And they laugh. But I am not joking.
Like, can I get real for a moment? I’m the lone ML for a pretty big region with a packed calendar, I have an infant and a four-year old home with me and my husband is going on a business trip for a whole week of November. Oh, and I am literally writing this right now dancing in place at my kitchen counter with the baby in the wrap because that is the only way she sleeps lately between illness and teething so it’s the only way that I can get any work done. So, if I make it through this month at all it will be a miracle so excuse me if I’m not setting any lofty writing goals.
And there’s a whole long rant I could go into now about how the problem with achieving big things is that instead of just going, wow, you achieved that big thing! people then just expect that Huge Accomplishment is your base level from now on and give you a hard time for not doing the impossible every time and it takes all your pride out of what you accomplished the other time not to mention all fun out of everything BUT I WON’T. So there.
So. Yes. I AM writing this month. I AM aiming for 50,000 words. But that’s it. Anything else I manage is just gravy.
What am I writing? Well, that’s kind of a long story…
Because, as we’ve discussed before, the problem with being a NaNo ML (for me, anyway) is that, with all the work I do for the event as a whole, I usually don’t have time to prep anything new for myself to write but I need something new to sprint for all the various fast writing events I have to run. Add to this that starting something new is counterproductive to me in the big picture of my writing career because I’m always already in the middle of a bunch of things by the time November rolls around. I’ve come into NaNo the last few years trying to finish All The Things in October so I can start something new in November and failing (because I’m already doing All The Things to set-up NaNo) all while flailing around wildly for the perfect project that will fulfill my ML need for something to sprint and my writing career needs at the same time. The result ends up being a November in which I write a lot… but none of it particularly useful to me in the long run.
My gift to myself this on this wild year is that I am not going to do that. I am going to focus on NaNoWriMo as a super productive month and not worry about making sure all the words are on one project. My most fulfilling (and wordiest) NaNo-year as an ML was the one (2015?) where I finished my novel early and used the rest of the month to write a bunch of things I’d been meaning to write for a while. It ended up being a big first-draft-a-palooza of a bunch of smaller things and I think that’s exactly what I need for this year.
Therefore, for sprints and other fast writing competition, I’m going to try to get down a zero draft of a project I’m calling The Months after the fairy tale that inspired it. I have almost no idea what this project is going to be other than it will involve some kind of personification of the twelve months and I’ve been toying with doing it for a while so hopefully throwing a whole bunch of words at it will help me figure out if it’s something and, if so, what that something is.
Outside of sprints, I have to finish on a final pass through of a full length play (4th Orange) which will mostly be cutting it down for length (going to just count that by hours at 1,000 words an hour since word count will be negative on that).
Once I finish that, I’ll be working towards finishing several non-fiction books I’m in the middle of and would like to have done soon. I’ve also outlined three different new plays that need first drafts if those suddenly feel ready to write. And if something totally random suddenly clicks and begs to be finished up, it’s going on the list too! Basically, it’s writing housekeeping month for Hillary and I’m going to try to finish up some of the projects I hoped to have done before the end of the year while I’ve got the creative momentum of NaNoWriMo to help me.
On paper, it’s exciting and makes me feel like I’ll come out of November with lots of big things crossed off my To Write list and be in a good place for 2018. In practice? Well, we’ll see how it goes, won’t we?
Want to follow along with my progress next month? You can find me on the NaNoWriMo site here or watch the little live graph below!