Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lessons from Another #NaNoWriMoFail

NaNoWriMo ended Monday, and I can safely put another #NaNoWriMoFail in the books. 

But before you stop reading, this is not a self-deprecating post. I made it to almost 11,000 words, and I’m proud of that accomplishment. I spent the first 10 days of the month stressed out because I started out behind, and then the Lord, ever so gently, asked me who I was performing for. Ouch

I stayed behind for the rest of the month, but it wasn’t about competing, or proving, or performing anymore. The goal was to write, and I did—when I could.

NaNoWriMo has this mantra that one should write 50,000 words—regardless of whether they are ‘good’ words or not. Just get them down. Just. Write. Write. Write.

I’m not necessarily opposed to this exercise in writing, but for me, I decided to make the month about being diligent to my writing—and for me, being diligent about writing means I don’t waste words for the sake of a word count. I’m a thoughtful writer—and, as I’m learning, that makes me a slow writer. I imagine scenes in my head for days before I write them down. When I write, I write a lot at once—but I can’t keep that up every day. It’s too much.

One of the big takeaways I had from the ACFW conference this year was creating a writing plan or a writing schedule. I talked to one person who told me Frank Peretti writes 250 words a day. That’s not much—and seems so do-able—and it allows for 90,000 words a year: a book-length manuscript.

Others, I learned, try to write 3,000 words a week; some even said 5,000 words a week.

I wrote almost 11,000 words in a month, and I feel good about that—it’s slightly less than 3,000 a week, and it’s slightly more than 250 words a day.

And you know what else? I wrote. I worked. I thoughtfully considered my new story plot and my characters and my scenes and my dialogue. And I wrote some more.

I was reading Rachelle Gardner’s post about rejection this morning. I especially like reading the comments section on the B&S blog, and I was reminded that if I genuinely feel called to write, if I feel like it’s the gift He’s given me, then I can’t quit—regardless of the rejection I might face. By the same measure, I can’t make writing about me—my success or promotion.

In For the Love, Jen Hatmaker says it like this: “Run your race. Maybe you need to invest in your gifts. Take a class. Go to a conference. Sign up for a seminar. Start that small business. Put that website up. Build in some space. Say yes to that thing. Work with a mentor. Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies. Do you know who will do this for you? No one. You are it. Don’t bury that talent, because the only thing fear yields is one dormant gift in a shallow grave” (p. 33). 

NaNoWriMo is over, but my story is not complete. That status for my first manuscript is still uncertain, but I am not done.

Being a writer is about more than writing. And writing a novel is about more than one month of the year.

I’ve said before—I’m willing to work, to edit, to take the hard words and the real truth and criticism, to collaborate, to re-do, and to listen.

My part, for now, is to write. To do anything else is to bury the talent.

 What gift has God given you to steward? Do you need to resurrect the talent from a shallow grave?  [Click to Tweet!]

Writer-friends:  Advice for me? What's your writing plan? How do you keep your "I won't quit" attitude? [Click to Tweet!]

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