November 01, 2010

Day 1 of the National Novel Writing Month

This year I decided to join the National Novel Writing Month. And I suggested Tim do so too, which he did. We both started this morning and our joint word count is on track for the daily required average of 1667 per person.

I am actually not quite sure how it works other than the fact that I need to write 50,000 words of fiction this month. But I don't know what to upload where and when. It seems there are statistics that you should keep in your profile. As I tried to do so this morning, it's clear that NaNoWriMo is popular, on the first day, as the site is sluggish, very very sluggish.

So for now I might return to my other big project, write 100 reasons to run 100km (which I am doing this Saturday, for the first time), and try the NaNoWriMo website again a little later.

As a writer, I have drawn and continue to draw a lot of strength from my experience competing in marathons (13), ultras (3) and Ironmans (5) and the numerous other endurances races I have done. The approach to completing an event like a marathon and writing a book has much in common:

Both are feats of endurance that require a combination of mental determination and self-belief. You must commit to finishing what you start. You must also commit to believing that you can. I can guarantee you, from experience, that both in endurance races as well as in producing books there will be more than one moment when you will doubt that you're able to do it.

In those moments you need to remind yourself of the commitment you made and simply believe that you can. You can and you will. There's no tangible evidence. But you can create it by persisting. Make it happen. Write those 50,000 words. Do not stop until you've reached the finishline.

That's how running works. Of course you must prepare yourself physically with adequate training. You can't just wake up one day and decide to run 100km, just like that. Well maybe just maybe you can, if your life depended on it, but it wouldn't be pretty or enjoyable.

Likewise I think you need already have made regular writing a part of your life if you want to succeed in the challenging goal of NaNoWriMo, which I suspect is the case for most who have signed up.

When I did a reading of my third book A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing for the Squamish Writers Group two weeks ago, one of the writers there was an American guy in his 20s. Having just finished his PhD in biomedical engineering and being an avid rock climber, he had decided to a 2 1/2 month break and spend it in Squamish, an absolute mecca for rock climbers.

He also commited to writing a novel in those 2 1/2 months. When I met him at the reading he was one week away from going back home and returning to his profession. As for his manuscript? He'd written 70,000 words of his SciFi novel in his time here and was determined to finish it. I have no doubt he will and I hope he'll send me an email, as I asked him to do, when it's in print.

Very inspiring.

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