This week, as November looms, YA Highway asks the question, Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?
No, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. By the time the National Novel Writing Month came along, I’d already been published and was regularly writing books under contract. I was too busy working on those contracted books to take the time to start something new in November as NaNoWriMo requires. Me starting a NaNoWriMo book would have been a little like a busy home construction contractor in the middle of building a house dropping everything to run off and build a little cottage somewhere just for fun.
Deadlines, on the other hand, are an entirely different beast. That is, I worship at the feet of the deadline monster. It’s not so much that deadlines inspire me, but I respect them completely. Those deadline monsters are very much the boss of me. They stand by my bed in the morning, glaring at me to get up. They point their monstrous fingers toward my desk and demand that I turn on the computer. They keep their beady eyes on me to make sure I’m producing sufficient wordage each day so that I can reach their lofty goals. And heaven forbid if I take a peek at Facebook when I’m supposed to be working. The deadline monster never believes me when I say, “But I’m just doing some research on the web.”
So, yeah, deadlines are a powerful influence on me. I have only slipped a deadline a couple of times, both times by less than a week. I do try to front load success with my deadlines, negotiating with my editor for a reasonable amount of time to finish a given book. But I take them seriously and keep my eye on the calendar as I work.
I kind of suck, discipline-wise, if there is no deadline. Right now, I’m between books. I’ll have to start working on Revolution, the last book of the Tankborn trilogy, the moment my editor gives the thumbs-up. Once that happens, I’ll be busy-busy-busy for close to a year. But for the moment, the only thumbs doing anything are mine, twiddling.
Yeah, I could work on a spec book I’ve got that needs editing. I could even write some short stories like my son suggested. But it’s really hard to muster up the gumption to write. I can be a real slug when the deadline monster is taking a sabbatical.
So, although I’ve never done NaNoWriMo myself, I’m a big believer in the concept. Because it gives you a deadline. You have only the 30 days of November to write those 50K words. That’s quite a lot of work, a lot of words to write per day to reach your goal. And working fast like that, you learn a valuable skill–how to turn off the editor and just write. That one ability, to temporarily silence your internal editor, will get you to THE END, to a completed manuscript, better than anything.
So, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, much luck to you. And be sure to stock up on the deadline monster treats. All that glaring and pointing are hungry work.