This is my first year doing National Novel Writing Month, and IT IS SLOWLY KILLING ME. What's keeping me going, though, are pieces about it from writers I like. Like this blog post from Patrick Rothfuss, who responds to a fan noting that "I could see how your style wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month."
I’ve come to realize that I have a strong seam of contrarian in the bedrock of my personality. If someone says I can’t do something, a piece of my hind brain rears up and says, “the fuck I can’t!”
In the past this has led me into trouble. I’ve done all manner of stupid shit because someone’s dared presume I wouldn’t. Examples include making a naked snow angel, living for a week using nothing but my wits and three dollars, and eating an entire package of ranch seasoning. (Not ranch dressing, mind you. That would have been easy. I’m talking about the seasoning packet that you would use to make a pint of ranch dressing.)
I’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age, and these days the heavy-handed “I dare you…” taunts that used to set me off no longer have any power to sway me.
But your subtle implication that my writing style “wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month” made me raise my hackles a little bit.
“Who does this little punk think he is?” I found myself thinking. “Implying I can’t swing NaNoWriMo? You think I can’t be mythic and lyric AND write 50,000 words? The fuck I can’t!” (Via.)
And pep talks like this one from Neil Gaiman:
The last novel I wrote (it was Anansi Boys, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”
I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”
I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.
So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing. (Via.)
Or this from John Scalzi, which isn't technically NaNoWriMo related, but still:
It’s a relationship with words, essentially. I have one and it manifests itself through my fingers, usually onto a computer screen but occasionally with pen and paper. It’s a relationship in which I feel defined, in no small part because in the act of writing I have been able to define myself, to myself and to others. (Via.)
I put off participating in NaNoWriMo for a long time—partly 'cause it felt like a goofy gimmick, which in some ways I guess it is, and partly 'cause I didn't want to become the sort of person who says things like "NaNoWriMo" in public, which has, regrettably, happened—but I'm really enjoying it so far, even as it slowly strangles my social life and my sanity and my sleep schedule into a blackened husk. Thanks to the daily word count requirement, I've cranked out over 20,000 words so far on a novel that I don't hate, and the idea of pushing it to 50,000 (or beyond) by month's end seems totally feasible, and the idea of spending the next year rewriting and editing seems pretty exciting. (Well, it does now, at least.) So yeah. It's slowly killing me. But I'm kind of okay with that.