Last year I tried to write my entire novel in one month. It didn't happen. I'm still working on the same novel.
November is "National Novel Writing Month". The objective: write an entire novel in a month. If not from start-to-finish, then at least finish the novel you're already working on by stroke of midnight on the 30th.There is a whole following behind this--even a website where you can track your progress.
I got really excited when first I heard about this--this was my chance to finally get my novel done. My chance to finally get my novel STARTED! And what better way, I thought, than to join the thousands of others who were, even now, typing away furiously, scribbling madly, their thoughts flying faster than their fingers in desperate attempt to catch and pin down the unraveling threads of their works that for so long had remained stubbornly tangled.
Spurred on with a new fervor, I got straight to work. I wrote 2,000 words the first day, sitting in the tiny living room my then-fiance-now-husband and I shared, us working elbow-to-elbow as his "office" was actually just a desk shoved in the corner next to the tiny love-seat on which I sat, laptop perched on my knees.
The second day I wrote 3,000 more words. By the end of the first week in November, I had almost 12,000 words. I was ecstatic. More Facebook posts than you can even imagine about #myfirstnovel and #NaNoWriMo. I even got excited when I saw other people posting about their progress! I had myself convinced my novel was going better than theirs, that I would succeed where they failed.
That didn't happen. I didn't finish my novel by November 30. The midnight bells tolled and I felt like the biggest pumpkin possible.
But I knew why I hadn't finished--NaNoWriMo didn't work for me. It wasn't just that work got busy, that I was travelling, that I found other things to do than to sit for two hours each day and furiously write write write.
My mind just didn't work that way. My mind STILL doesn't work that way. It's another year gone and my novel is still not done.
And that is completely fine. I'm going to take as long as I need to get it done right. Even now I try to work on my novel every day. I am certainly not getting 3,000 words every day but am doing more small edits. I am polishing little spots rather than chipping away big chunks.
For any one else working on their first novel, or their fourteenth, or the ones who are polishing and chipping away at things, keep going. Years may pass--pay them no heed. Spare yourself time and effort spent worrying about the work and focus on doing instead.
It's the hardest thing in the world to sit in the chair and stare at empty pages. You have to fill them over and over. Fill the pages, and make them count.