I’ve come to realize NaNoWriMo is like a bad boyfriend. You go running around having a great time and things are pretty hot and heavy. You’re seeing each other every day, but not to the point that you’re sick of seeing them, and then, in an instant, it’s December first. Your boyfriend, Nano, has broken up with you, again. He’s gone; the dates, the late nights together, the time spent talking about your feelings/thoughts/characters, and even the cute way he used to count your words with a bar graph. The relationship is all gone.
In November I was invited to speak at a local high school where my brother teaches English to the kids that actually have aspirations to go to college. After learning that this year was my third year doing Nano, one of the students asked me why I liked it. First I thought, who said I “liked” it? I just do it. But the answer I gave said it all: I like to watch the word count bar go up. That’s it, the bar. I’m in love with a visual measure of writing progress.
Hi, my name is Margaret and I like statistics.
The problem with this fact is that now I need a Nano app or download or something to keep that fire lit during the other eleven months of the year. Nano fuels my motivation in the same way pushing the gas pedal makes your car go faster. I’ve never had the self-motivation thing down and, to be brutally honest, I have even asked God for flashing neon lights at times to tell me what it is that I’m supposed to be doing, thinking that would spur me forward. I hate to be the one to tell you, but there are no “sit down and write, moron” flashing signs out there.
So here I am almost at the end of December and I’ve written one story all month long when I wrote twenty some stories in November alone. Now, I’ve tried to rationalize and say to myself that it was burnout, that the breakup took so much out of me that not writing in December is “okay.” Don’t let me tell myself that. There’s no way writing a lot is an excuse for writing nothing later. So what’s the solution? I’m going to get back on that horse and ride, and my new horse’s name is January.