Many of my Twitter peeps are deep into #NaNoWriMo right now, this masochistic movement every November where writers produce a full first draft of a novel in 30 days. I’m exhausted just writing that sentence.
While I’ve been an on-and-off creative writer for nearly three decades now, I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo. Part of it is that I am too inclined to revise as I go, and I don’t see how you can generate 50,000 or more words in a month if you keep stopping to edit. The larger reason, however, is that NaNoWriMo requires you to produce pages each and every day. For those of us with jobs and families and obligations–that’s just about every writer, it seems–something has to give for you to dedicate so much to the muse.
I’ve been working on an urban fantasy novel since July, and I just passed the 90,000-word mark this week. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first draft (although several scenes are on their second or third draft). My pace is slower than that of a NaNoWriMo participant because I haven’t found the time to write every day. Each time I skip there’s a legitimate reason–I have a busy day of work, I’m spending time with my wife or one of my kids–but I’m still making a choice, and that choice leaves my muse waiting on the sidelines.
That will change soon. I’ll be taking a few days off from my day job and holing myself up in a modest place in the Mojave Desert, where I’ll do nothing but hike and write. When I have no other distractions, I can produce pages like nobody’s business. I actually think I might be able to complete my first draft on this trip. If I don’t give myself this dedicated time, it’s possible I won’t have a draft completed by the end of the year.
I don’t know how NaNoWriMo participants find the time to write each and every day for a month. My admiration for them knows no bounds. But I’m giving myself permission to walk away soon from my other obligations to spend four days and three nights with my muse. She deserves it.