Swoon Author Olivia Hinebaugh: Don't Stop Now
Hey! Novel writers and Nano-ers! You’re writing words. Words that didn’t exist until you typed them! That is rad! It’s an accomplishment whether you “win” NaNoWriMo or not.
I have a complicated relationship with NaNoWriMo. (But, honestly, who doesn’t?) There are things I like (solidarity, a little external pressure—I love a deadline) and things I don’t (the emphasis on quantity over quality, the fact that anything less than 50,000 words isn’t “winning”).
I’m doing NaNo this year. And not because I set out wanting to do NaNoWriMo, but because November just happened to be a month for drafting (instead of editing, revising, reading, cooking, bathing…) I’ve only done NaNo one other time. And, yeah, I won. But I also cheated. I know, I know. But I had already written 15,000 words of a thing and I just cracked 55,000 by the end of the month. So... technically… I didn’t “win.” But, you know what? I still looooooooove that manuscript, and I hope I figure out a way to make it shiny and hopefully one day be on a bookshelf.
We’re getting close to the end of November, and I know there might be a lot of mixed feelings. You might not have gotten as much done as you wanted. You might be tired. You might be burned out. You also might be feeling super proud of all you accomplished. In fact, everyone who attempts NaNoWriMo should be proud.
I realize I’m still new to this author thing. But, like most authors, I’m not new to the writing a novel thing. And each book is so different. Some I have figured out before I write. Some seem to write themselves. Some take a lot of mental energy to write, and I need frequent breaks to figure out what’s happening next. It’s all different. It all varies project-to-project and day-to-day.
This month was the first time my goal really was “write as many words as possible,” but that’s only because for the first time ever I have the entire book plotted out scene-by-scene. My focus has just been “getting it done.”
If I can leave you with some hard-earned wisdom, it’s this: All progress is worthwhile. Even if you’re not sure if you like it. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re never letting it see the light of day. Even if you wrote only a fraction of the words you wanted to. Every time I write something, I learn something. I like to think that I’ll just keep getting better at this writing thing. If NaNoWriMo is good for anything, it’s that it gives you permission to really go for it. So to everyone out there who really went for it: you rock! Keep on rocking. Get words! Refine those words! Get people to read your words! Or not! Just keep going for the things you want to do.
Nothing magical happens on December 1st that’s going to prevent you from writing. You may not have the encouragement of an entire community of people sweating it out alongside you. But you can still put that butt in that chair and those fingers to the keys. You can still imagine new worlds and populate it with new people. You can still make magic. Keep going!