A few months ago I came across NaNoWriMo, a challenge to all writers, new and old, to write 50,000 words during the 30 days of November. Now, I’ll admit that I had never written anything other than school essays, theses or business reports, but for some very strange reason (I’ll never know what possessed me!), I decided to jump in feet first and have a go. After all, how hard can it be to write a novel.
Ha, poor disillusioned me! Never underestimate how frustrating, demoralising and stressful it can be when you fail to meet your daily target, or when the computer screen remains blank, for hour after hour, day after day.
Then suddenly, the inspiration grabs you and the words flow, your fingers ache from typing into the early hours, your eyes are bloodshot from fatigue and too much caffeine. But finally, you are back on track, the goal is all at once achievable – YOU can do this!
It’s mid November, your word count is building, your plot is developing and you are euphoric that this might still happen for you. Taking a notebook and pen to bed with you, (when you finally give in to sleep), waking up and scribbling down an idea, forgetting to eat (all you need is coffee), ignoring the whimpers from the dogs who are still waiting for that walk, all this and more is how the NaNo bug affects you.
The final 10,000 are tough, you’re at a loss for words (a rare occurrence, I know), but you dig deep and then you are on the home stretch, the target is just around that corner, you make a dash for the finish line and YAY!!! you cross over and collapse in a heap, ecstatic and knackered at the same time.
So, you are a WINNER, you can tell all your doubters that they were wrong. It’s done, another item to tick off your “things to do before I die” list. But, is it really all over? What are you going to do next? In my case, the 50,000 words didn’t get me to the end of my story, so in spite of having achieved the NaNo challenge, there was still no sign of a book!
Well I couldn’t just give up on it, once I start something, I have to see it through – call me foolhardy or just plain stubborn, but I hate loose ends (OK, so I guess I’m not hiding my OCD tendencies too well now, am I?). Anyway, the 50k has now grown to over 80k, only now I’m editing, revising and rewriting too. As I get closer to finally writing ‘The End’, I realise that I might need some guidance and advice, therefore I join some writing groups where you can get your work critiqued. In return for some valuable feedback, I need to read other people’s works and give critiques too.
So, what started as a writing challenge last November, has now become a full-time obsession as I write, edit, read, critique and get feedback – eventually I may even have something worth publishing! But, back to the reason for this blog – Define Casual! – to join these writing groups, you have to decide whether you are a ‘Casual & Occasional writer’ or a ‘Seriously dedicated writer & Novelist’.
Argh! – I chose casual – but based on my experiences so far, Heaven forbid I ever take this seriously!!!!!