“Decisions are made by those who show up.” — Aaron Sorkin
Here’s hoping everyone had a good day yesterday. Not too much drama — or, if there was some, hopefully you’re able to mine it for some story inspiration. I had a t-shirt once that proclaimed “WARNING: What you do may appear in my next book.” My mother-in-law asked me not to wear it to family gatherings as it made people nervous.
So we’re now facing the last four days of November and the frantic race for the finish line of NaNoWriMo. Whether yesterday was a good writing day for you or things went by the wayside due to family commitments, that doesn’t matter. Today is a new day and it’s time to get back to work and show up at the page. Behind or ahead, today is the day to recommit to what you’re trying to achieve.
When we overeat one day (like, say, Thanksgiving), it’s easy to say that we’ve blown it and beat ourself up — often accompanied by even more food — than acknowledging that we didn’t do as well as we would have liked, refocus and move forward. The same thing happens with writing. Something blows our schedule up, the words don’t get done and instead of sitting down the next day and keep writing, we feel as if we’ve lost the thread and there goes another day. Then another, and another — and then we feel we’re so far behind, we can never catch up.
I’ve been there, believe me. That feeling is the double-edge sword of NaNoWrimo, because you’re racing against the calendar. 50,000 words in 30 days. For those 30 days, we live and die by that word count. Let me offer some advice at this point: Don’t.
I’m not saying don’t get your butt that chair and write. Absolutely do that, NaNoWrimo or no. But don’t let that word count haunt you to the point where you stop writing because it all seems overwhelming. “But you said a couple of paragraphs back that today was a day to recommit to what we’re trying to achieve,” I hear you cry.
Yes, I did — and what we’re trying to do is write a book. The month of literary abandon ends Monday at Midnight. Your book will still be there. No matter where you are in your NaNo process, today is the day to recommit to writing your book, getting that first draft down while the fire is still hot. The winner’s certificate is nice and the goodies are fun, but the real prize is finding you have created something that didn’t exist when you started scarfing the last of the Halloween candy. You’re bringing a new story to life. That’s a thing so many people say they’d like to do and never make the effort.
You made the decision to do this, so let’s show up today. Here’s to good writing.