National Novel Writing Month 2020

It’s November, a month that inspires both terror and excitement in writers everywhere. Each November, I reminisce on my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month, in which I hand-wrote my first real draft of a novel. It told a sweet story of personal growth, literary love, and quirky community, and I fondly remember that frantic month of my junior year of high school in which I crammed every spare moment full of words. Words, words, words.

To my dismay, though, the grown-up world does not stop spinning in November merely because this aspiring author has writing to do. Instead, my life always seems to accelerate in November. As I wrote in a parody of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” it seems that November and December comprise an absolute frenzy of auditions, rehearsals, and concerts for musicians—especially church musicians.

Parody, “It’s the Most Stressful Time of the Year”
(Ryanne McLaren, piano and lyricist
Joshua Burke, tenor)

Still, while I am working to pull together a massive high school concert, learn new advent music for church, prep an intensive lecture on worship music, and edit a paper for the TS Eliot Society, I feel my novel stirring within my mind. It wants to be written. It needs to be written. All of its friends are being written, after all! “Come on, Mom, write me!” it seems to call.

And so, last night, I caved. The pressure of my too-real characters finally became too much and I began to revisit my manuscript, which is already well over the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. Surprisingly, I don’t hate it. Artists are notoriously their own worst critics, but I am fairly pleased with the draft. Indeed, I fell asleep last night brainstorming unwritten scenes and sequels. Despite my workload, I can ignore my inkling no longer and, so, am sallying forth into NaNoWriMo.

My aim, however, is not to write 50,000 words specifically in my novel. Rather, I aim to do a bit of work on my novel draft each day while powering through other writing projects with more immediate deadlines. In this way, I do believe I will write 50,000 words after all, though in a more scattered way. Still, to any of you who are feeling a similar tension between that which you long to write and that which you must write, I suggest that NaNoWriMo shouldn’t be an “all or nothing” endeavor, but that it instead might just be a good way to re-regulate your writing. Whether you hit 50,000 words on one particular project is nothing compared to the value of simply setting words to the page each day. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, though I do believe it is true.

So, best of luck to all of you who are taking on the challenge, in any capacity, of NaNoWriMo 2020. To those of you who remain readers rather than writers, please consider buying us a coffee; it’s going to be a busy month. If you happen to be both a writer and a musician, well, you have my condolences; we shall endure (and, perhaps, even enjoy!) the season together.

Onward with writing and upward with word counts! We write!

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