Last year I started a YA novel on November 1, but 4 days in I had to go see my 85 year-old mother, suddenly hospitalized in Las Vegas. Determined to keep my commitment, I wrote in a journal and caught up my word count when I returned. Three days later I flew back to Las Vegas again, journal in hand, still determined. By the time I returned, I’d written a dying grandmother into the novel. Before the month was over I made three trips to Las Vegas from my home near Portland, OR. The novel morphed into some other genre, meta-memoir? I’ve been working on it ever since; now it’s a memoir that starts out about writing a novel, but turns into an exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and the euthanizing affects of morphine at the end of life.
This year, I’ll be working on a second draft, maybe ignoring most of the first draft, now that I see of the shape of the story.
If you are writing something other than a novel, you may be wondering if Nanowrimo is for you. Nano is all about the writing. The word counter doesn’t know what genre you’re using to generate words, so don’t be shaken away by this detail. The important thing is to write. Write to discover. Write to explore. But eventually write to rewrite, and discover more, going deeper into the story, fleshing and flushing it out.
Will you feel ‘less than’ if you’re not writing a novel, just because ‘Novel” is in the Nano name? Don’t allow it. Your thoughts about your project are where confidence and determination begin and end, so start here:
Do you believe in your project? Lean into your belief. Ask yourself WHY this particular project and theme is important to you. Carry it around with you- this thought. Write it down. Let it erupt to fill the spaces of your life during the times you are tempted to escape into overeating or drinking or media.
You will need these thoughts to fully fill you when Nano is upon you. Whether it’s a novel, a memoir, or a rewrite, it will only be as good as good you believe it is. Believe hard into your story. Otherwise you are likely to abandon it and curl up in front of Netflix with potato chips or whatever you use to numb yourself when the work gets tough and belief feels small. Re-bolster.
So what if it is a rewrite- what if you have a “crappy first draft” and November is your best opportunity to work on the second draft? Can you use Nano for that too? You decide. Some people put their first draft away when they begin their second draft, considering it an exploration and discovery draft, letting it be whatever it is.
All writing is valid. What will work best for you and your project? Jump in there and use the tools that will get you to the finish line. You get to decide what the finish line is too- it doesn’t have to be 50K words; it can be showing up each day to write for 10 minutes, or 200 words, or rewriting 3 scenes. You might surprise yourself with where a small commitment takes you. Make Nano work for you, not the other way around. Onward.