Thursday, 27 December 2012

On being a writer

I am told writing is all about getting the words out whether they made sense or not. It is about getting into the habit of writing everyday whether it is writing emails, a synopsis of your story or the story itself. Though it is good advice (really good advice) it seems to be impossible; the key word here being 'seems.'

The irony is that it all somehow becomes possible in those thirty days of November when us Wrimos (participants of NaNoWriMo) abandon every other wordly desire and just write.



Writing 1,000 words a day seems like a huge task on an ordinary day, but in November when word counts are important and my life hangs in the balance (obviously not literally) 5,000 or even close to 15,000 words, somehow become possible. Yes, I did around 15,000 words on November 30th just to be able to finish 50,000+ words for this year.

And that made me wonder. How is it that I can challenge and push myself to a point where my hands hurt from all the typing during NaNoWriMo (not to mention, be on a creative and imaginative overdrive to be able to actually come up with 15,000 words that sound sensible when put together), when today, 27 days and one writing workshop since that day, I have added barely six hundred words to my story?

Could it be because everything that I had put on hold for those thirty days is being done now? Could it be that everything I had sacrificed so easily in November suddenly seems so hard now?

Maybe it's the lack of a challenge, a goal and that has resulted in this slack behaviour, this relaxed attitude. Maybe the fact that three hundred thousand other people were working towards the same goal as I was, coupled with the fact that they could be closer to the goal than I was (and usually I was far, far away for like 90% of the whole journey and I managed to catch up only during the last week or so) kind of helped.

And maybe that is the reason why NaNoWriMo is such a huge success. Because it is the only thing that gets people from all across the globe and in such huge numbers to actually get off their butts and write a damn novel. Or at least 50,000 words. And that was the thing that attracted me towards NaNo the year I first joined (2010) even though I discovered it eight days into the challenge and when I was buried deep into my exams, but that did not stop me. 

Even though I wrote only eleven thousand words that year, I loved the result and that inspired me to write a new novel every year so much that the next year (2011) I completed my target all the way in Tirupati when I was there to attend a friend's wedding. (I had agreed to go only because she got married on December 1 and allowed me to carry my laptop along and ensured that she will provide me with internet access to be able to upload my novel on 30th November.) So I wrote in the train, I wrote in the hotel room, I wrote all night and I wrote all day and I did my damn 50,000 words because really, it would be a shame if after all the hype about 'I can't come to your wedding because I have NaNoWriMo' I couldn't.

And then I forgot about the whole thing. Something that I had worked on for the past thirty days, put my heart and soul into, had sacrificed sleep for, was forgotten; kind of. But that wasn't the intention. The intention was to give myself a break from writing like a maniac who had no track of time or what day it was except when she was checking how many more days she had left to complete her goal. And I felt it was justified because the NaNo site suggested it (read: I Wrote a Novel, Now What?) to be able 'to see my novel in a new light' or something like that. So I took a break. For eleven months.

After I'd done my 50,000+ words (50,077 to be exact) for 2011, I did try to go back to my novel somewhere in January 2012, but I didn't feel like the story was going anywhere and I had no idea how it would end. I couldn't believe that all the hard work I had put in was not going to lead anywhere because even I wasn't convinced with the story. And that was more than I needed to not go back to my novel. 

The next time I opened the file, it was somewhere in the middle of November 2012 when I needed a two minute break from writing my current (in-process) novel. And believe me, I did see it in a whole new light and I knew what they meant when they said we should take a break from our novels. Of course, they didn't mean eleven months. And I was amazed. I couldn't believe I had written the whole thing or the fact that I had thought it was crap. As I started reading, the two minute break turned into a five-hour (or maybe more) break. Even though it took away precious time from writing my current novel and I could have done about 3,500-4,000 words in that time, I am convinced that it was time well spent, because it gave me faith. Faith that my writing was not that bad. That something I had written a year ago was definitely worth going back to. That my writing is not boring.

And that motivated me to write my NaNo2012 Novel and complete it. But as I said, 27 days since the challenge has ended, I have barely written 600 words. Initially, I was worn out from the late night writing and typing, but ultimately, it was the lack of a challenge.

So I've decided to give myself one because I need it and that's the only way I am going to be able to finish a book.

Every month I am going to set a goal of spilling writing at least 1,000 words a day towards my book (blogging does not count.) So I've set up a meter on the right side bar that will also track my progress. In the new year, I am going to do this right.

I gave up a career to be a writer and although I have other things that I am doing, writing 1,000 words a day and one novel a year is not that hard. I just have to prove that it's really not.

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Sorry about the word verification. There are a lot of crazy bots out there posting comments by the truckload. I just need to make sure that you aren't one of them. :)

Go on. Prove it!