NaNoWriMo Update: My Journey to the Finish Line

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NaNoWriMo Update: My Journey to the Finish Line by Tyree Pace

December 04, 2012

Last month, I posted here about NaNoWriMo, an annual write-a-thon held in the month of November. Now that November is over, I would like to congratulate all the writers who crossed the finish line at 50,000 words before the first stroke of midnight on December 1. It was no easy feat, and their perseverance is commendable.

I would also like to congratulate all the other people who participated, knew that they were never going to make that word count by the end of November, but still stuck through with it and continued to write to the very end. Those people inspire me just as much as the ones who made the 50,000 word mark. Why? Because they continued to write even though they doubted they would ever have a chance of catching up. They didn’t just quit as the days passed and they fell further and further behind on their word count goal. And even though they were abysmally short of 50,000 as November 30 dawned, they still continued to write right up to the very end. Because like any marathon, it isn’t always about winning, it’s about seeing it through to the end.

I did not cross the finish line at 50,000 words. Far from it. In fact, when the final week started, I almost gave up. I had been averaging about 400 words a day for the last couple of weeks and I was sitting at just a hair’s breadth over 12,000 words. I hated everything I had written and my characters hated me. They refused to do anything except stand around and drink coffee or tea. On the night of November 30th, I sat down to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with my daughter (instead of writing my novel that I hated anyway). Near the end of the movie, there’s a scene where the character Samwise Gamgee talks to Frodo Baggins about the stories that matter. He says that (and I’m paraphrasing here) what separates them from the other stories is that the characters don’t quit or turn back even when the opportunity presents itself to do so… they keep pushing on.

Pushing on. That’s what I needed to do. Not because I had this great story to tell, but because I had to see it through to the end. Because that was the deal I made with myself and the only thing keeping me from telling the story was me.  I thought I would take these characters through a journey during these past 30 days, but I realized it was me going through the journey. I had become my worst enemy. Instead of just preventing me from writing, my inner critic also sabotaged me WHILE I was writing. It barraged me with an endless amount of plot points and backstory that served to do nothing more than completely distract me from the actual story. More than once, I lost track of what I was trying to say and where I was trying to go. I seemed to be writing but the writing was going nowhere. It was like the hamster on a wheel: he’s convinced he’s going somewhere but really he’s not.

That’s when I had an epiphany about the "writing process." It is literally a process, something that I had to interact with and get involved in. I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and tell some story with grammatically correct prose and proper juxtaposition. I had to get in there, stop listening to what the critic was saying, and live my story like my characters did. Because anything less means I might as well just hop on the hamster wheel and start running.

At 11:59PM PST on November 30, I had 19,428 words. I also had a stiff neck, aching fingers, and a newfound respect for those authors whose job it is to write some thing every day. I don’t have any bragging rights as far as NaNoWriMo is concerned, but the end of November does not mean the end of my novel. One of my lifelong goals has always been to write a novel, and I am going to do it. It won’t be easy, but I am going to keep pushing on. And when I finally get there, boy, am I going to have a story to tell.

Tyree Pace

About Tyree Pace

I'm a front end web developer biding my time until the zombie apocalypse. I believe in open source projects, information sharing, and not having to run your grandmother over just to make a dollar.

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