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On Foot

Hello Friends!  Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Today is the twenty-ninth day of NaNoWriMo.  My current wordcount is 44,956. (Yes, I know, behind.)

This year, in my region, we are having a bit of a strange year.  Most of us are behind.  In fact, almost all of us are.  We've been behind since the first or second week of the month, and just haven't been able to catch up.  This is weird for us, because usually we have several people that get way past 50k by the second week.  And we have several people that are the slow-but-steady type (I usually fall into that category).  Inevitably, we have some WriMos that don't make it to 50k words, but this year, we might have several more.

I have words of encouragement for those who are behind. Today is the second-to-last day to get words in, and I have seen people drop well over 10,000 words into their novel in two days to finish at 50k.  But my words of encouragement are not just for those that have a chance at hitting the mark.  This is for those that know there is no way, and are wanting to throw in the towel.  Maybe they already have.

Please don't.

A few weeks ago, my car ran out of gas.  I was irresponsible and let it give me the low fuel light all the way home from work (30 minute drive), then for the rest of the day and a half as I ran errands.  I knew it was low.  I heard the ding.  I saw the light.  I intended to refuel my tank, but there was always something that seemed more pressing at the moment.  So, at 5:45pm on a Friday, three blocks from my house, my accelerator stopped responding and I pulled into a parking lot just in time to hear my engine make lots of clicking noises and shut off.

Maybe you feel like that is what happened with your writing this month.  You knew you were pushing it when you signed up.  Or maybe you thought there would be nothing in your way, but work and school and life and even your story have conspired against you.  Now that December is so close, your engine has stopped.  You are out of gas.  And you would really rather bail at this point.

When my car ran out of gas, it meant that I had to do a bit of rearranging.  It meant I couldn't go to the gym that night.  It meant I had to make an embarrassing phone call to my husband.  Most importantly, to get to my destination, I had to get out and walk.

This may sound preachy, but I feel very strongly that it is true.  While to "win" NaNoWriMo, you are supposed to write 50,000 words in 30 days, winning is not the best part.  And 50k doesn't have to be your goal.  Every year I have participated in NaNo, I have felt the same feeling.  For me, the best part of NaNoWriMo is not making 50k.  The best part of NaNo is the fact that I am working on my novel every day.  It is that there is a tremendous support group of other writers working on their novels every day.  The creativity and the camaraderie beat out attaining a wordcount for the most satisfying experience every single time.

If you find yourself in this category, where your novel is so far from 50k that you don't even want to talk about it, consider rearranging your goals.  Sure, you only have two days left, but you can make those days count.  Get out of your car, and use those feet.  Maybe instead of working towards a wordcount you know you won't hit, you can take pride in the fact that you have worked on your novel every day, or even every week.  Instead of blundering through the boring beginning or middle of your story, spend the last two days of NaNo writing that exciting fight scene or the really tender love scene or the heated argument that you've been looking forward to.  It's okay to write out of order!  (I'm doing that for the first time this year.)  Instead of ducking the question anytime a writing buddy asks you about your wordcount, take pride in the fact that you have a wordcount.  That's right!  YOU started working on a novel.  And even if you feel like you are light-years away from "The End," you are infinitely closer than the person who never sat down to start.

So ditch that car.  Pound out the last bit of the pavement on your own two feet.  Your writing buddies are here with you; some at the finish already, some running along side you, some getting out of their cars behind you.  Everyone is screaming and cheering, because the end is not a wordcount.  The end is 12:00am Dec 1, and the goal is whatever you say it is.  Let's hear your best war whoop!  Show these last two days who is boss!  December is coming, and I hear the pounding of keyboards and feet.


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