Rather than wait until New Year’s Eve, when it’s too late to do anything about the year’s unmet goals, I took stock at the end of October. Despite grand ideas of writing a poem a week this year, I haven’t.
In fact, I forgot about that resolution until I reviewed my posts for this year. I’m not beating myself up about it, either. It’s a good exercise and a great goal. Maybe I’ll try again next year, even join a poetry group for guidance and support.
The single most important task I set myself in 2012 was to write one, complete, messy, first draft of a novel. To my credit, I’ve been consistently tunneling my way through two decades of notes. I’ve hit dead ends several times, most notably in August, when I deleted nearly two-hundred pages and started over (again).
Since then, I’ve been writing faster, with more confidence and more clarity, and I’d finished three chapters – almost 30,000 words – by Halloween. But I could see this still wouldn’t get me to The End by December thirty-first, and I knew I could write faster – if properly motivated. I needed something to nudge me to write with less fear and more abandon. As a reader of this blog as well as a contributor, the answer became clear: sign up for Nanowrimo. I did.
I put the 30,000 words of the first three chapters aside and restarted my word count with Chapter Four on the first of November. My goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, which will leave me about another 20,000 to write by Christmas. If the draft is finished by then, I can put it aside to ferment over the holidays, when my family will be home.
Nanowrimo is more fun than I ever imagined, even though I’ve not taken advantage of any of its social offerings. I simply love viewing the bar graph at the end of the day, when I clock my word-count and see how I’m doing. It’s like having a boss who’s holding me accountable in a way I’ve not been able to by myself.
Nanowrimo has also helped me give up tight control, which has little place in a first draft. In order to pound out two thousand words daily, I’m writing a little more wildly than I had been before, and this is okay. There are eleven other months in a year to chisel away and give the story the shape and polish I aim for. Right now, I’m delighting in simply writing. And I’m pleased to think that I’m again on track to reaching the goal I set at the start of the year.
The point here isn’t about Nanowrimo – that’s just a tool I’m finding helpful in meeting a larger goal. What I’m so proud of is that I haven’t given up because I might not meet my goal. Even if I don’t “finish” by the end of December, I’m going to end the year trying.
How are you progressing toward the goals you set for this year?
Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist and educator. She lives in southern Vermont. Learn more at www.deborahleeluskin.com