I LOVE deadlines.
Yeah I know. A lot of you think that’s kind of bizarre. (And to show you just how crazy I really am, let me go ahead and admit now that I also like Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, and timed exams.) But I feel about deadlines the way a lot of people feel about….well…roller coasters. They get my adrenaline flowing, my blood pumping, and my senses keenly aroused. I feel more energized and excited about a project when I know I can’t work on it forever.
That’s why I’m so excited about National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo). Every year thousands of authors from all over the world make it their personal goal to write 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th. That’s enough to fill a short novel, or get you well on your way in a longer one.
You can register your project and have the words counted on the NaNoWriMo website, so that you can officially be declared a winner once you reach 50,000 words. But there are no prizes, other than the satisfaction of achieving your goal. For those who really want to write a novel, that’s more than enough!
I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo before. In fact, I’d forgotten it existed. And during the past few months I’ve been pleasantly wandering through my research and outlining process for Lily and Fred’s story, without any particular rush. But somewhere in the back of my head I had the nagging feeling that I needed something. A goal, a deadline, to help me be my most productive. I was having a marvelous time, and I was getting things accomplished. But not very fast.
Then, early this month, I saw a blog post about NaNoWriMo. And BAM! Suddenly I knew that was exactly what I needed. A deadline. Although I probably will not actually register my project on the website, I’ve decided to set myself the same goal.
50,000 words. In 30 days.
And presto! Like magic, my focus narrowed to a laser beam. I had less than a full month to complete my outline, and I kicked everything into warp speed. Scheduling interviews with people who had known Lily and remembered Lytham in the 40’s, working through timelines, nailing down all the crucial turning points in the story and filling in the blanks between, working every spare minute I could come up with. And all that while I was juggling my normal job, a large sewing project (making my own dress for a friend’s wedding), pre-production for a fellow writer’s book trailer, and a 12-day trip to Idaho!
(Yes, I did manage to find time for sleeping and eating as well.)
And so here we are, the end of October. A few short days and the race begins. Will I make the 50,000 word goal? Can’t wait to find out!