It's October- and besides monster movies, football injuries, and early Christmas commercials, it's time for all the NaNoWriMo buzz. For the unknowing, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, takes place during November- where by writing 1,667 words a day, aspiring novelists hope to present a fully written novel of 50,000 by the 30th.
But some never finish.
Here are 5 good things about not finishing:
1- You started. You attempted. If I had a nickel for all the people who told me, "I'm going to write a novel" yet never even wrote a line, I'd have enough nickels to buy a very large overpriced frappucino. For so many people, beginning is the hardest part. Like Mary Poppins said, "Start at the beginning, it's the very best place to start..." You've done that. Kudos!
“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” -Tupac Sahkur
2- Doing any amount of writing let's you know your characters better. It's like what I call the 'E-Harmony of dating your character.' By starting to write your novel, you know a little bit more about them; not everything because writing, like dating, takes time to get to know your character. If you've written one chapter, that's like one date. Several chapters, a month of dating. Even after you finish the novel, you don't know everything about your character (sequels...). I know my hubs still surprises me after so many years and that discovery (usually) makes life more fun.
3- You're in the groove. Okay, so 1,667 words a day are hard; you have family, jobs, obligations. We all have situations that demand and steal our time. But if you got into the habit of at least writing even 100 words a day, and it becomes like that cup of coffee (or tea) that you must have every morning, you're creating a positive writing atmosphere and lifestyle. My first novel took 10 years to write as I juggled a full time job, college night classes, a house, and a husband. I wrote, in my car, on my lunch hour. (Yes, even in winter when it was cold! New Jersey winters can be brutal!) But I wrote almost every day. Use the smallest bits of time efficiently and consistently.
4- The word police didn't come banging on your door to take you away. This is a purely voluntary undertaking. While colleagues and friends may say, "Did you finish that novel yet?" you are not required to finish in that month's span. Maybe a family or friend needed you. Was there a move? A sickness? A lottery win and you were on the beach without access to your notes? Whatever the reason (and I'm sure it was a good one), you didn't finish. Even if you didn't have a good reason, that's your business, but don't let it prevent you from picking up where you left off. Finish the novel over the next month (yeah, good luck in December with all those holidays), next year- or if you're like John Grisham and me, the next 10 years to finish it. There are no NaNo police interested in your word count productivity. Don't put stress on yourself. There's always next year, and that's cool.
5- Look at what you've learned. Maybe 1,667 words are too much. Maybe you need a break after a week of intense writing. Maybe this novel won't work and you need to fix a major plot problem. Maybe you've met some people and get along well enough to start a new critique or support group. Maybe your novel needs to move from middle grade to young adult. Maybe a thousand different things that will change your novel-or you. This experience of not finishing could be a blessing, a boost, a life-changing epiphany for you. Embrace it, use it. And march onward.
So, there's always next year. Maybe by not finishing (I won't say fail because you haven't), you know what you need to do, or not do, to complete your next attempt. Let me encourage you join a NaNo prep class (go to the NaNo website, they can hook you up. I just gave a class at our local library). Take the year, or a month, to prep, make notes, outline. There's no law against finishing in six months.
But finish that novel- it's a dream you can make come true.