NaNoWriMo and Letting the Muse Take Over

So, the question has been posed by some writer friends, as it has been every year since I’ve known them: am I doing NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month is where you write a novel of at least 50,00 words in November). And, just like every year, I was going to say “I’m thinking about it”. But then I thought, you know, I really should do it. I mean, what better chance is there? Other years I had a new baby or was finishing or editing a novel or was writing a novel and had grant support, so no time to duck out and duck back in a month later (you aren’t supposed to work on a novel in progress but are supposed to start a new one for that month). But here I am with nothing on the go in November except promoting A Few Kinds of Wrong with book signings most weekends, having Sam’s birthday party, and looking after Sam, and Ben who will be just about 20 months old by then. So, writing a 50,000 word novel that month sounds like a piece of cake, doesn’t it? The thing is no one has much free time. That’s what NaNo is about. it forces you to buckle down, give the internal editor in your head a good punch in the face in order to knock him out, and work on getting the clay on the table. After the month is over, you can add to the 50,000 words, pretty them up, change them around or toss them away but focusing your muse is the goal and maybe that’s what is so scary to me.

My muse and I have an on and off relationship. Sometimes I go weeks without letting him out . Oh, he’s in there, walking around my head and shouting ideas at me, popping conversations between characters in there just to distract me from whatever I’m doing. But he does all this to entice me and I so infrequently give in. They say some people wait for the muse to kick in before they write. I have even said that about myself but what I really mean is that I keep the muse at bay until I’m ready. That usually means until I feel like my two choices are writing or insanity. My muse is some kind of hyperactive teenager who, I know, will work furiously once I start writing and that makes it hard to pull away from the writing once I start. So, I try to wait until I have plenty of time like maybe two hours or so to really get into it and that is a rarity. Oh, the time is there in the evenings, I’ll admit, but my mind is usually quite mushy and tired by then so I don’t have the energy to set the overactive muse-teen free. Lots of people write in small doses, five or ten minutes at a time even. And they do great with it. But, will it work for me? That’s the big question about NaNo. Because, realistically, that’s the kind of time I’ll have. Oh, and commitment. I’m not good at buckling down to things. But the older I get, the more I enjoy doing the things that make me a bit scared, the things I’m not sure I can do. So, if nothing major changes between here and there, November 1, I’ll be writing a new novel in one month, or at least giving it my best. And, as I always tell Sam, that’s all the anyone can do.

3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo and Letting the Muse Take Over

  1. Pingback: This Much is True » Blog Archive » Committing to a NaNo Novel

  2. Hi Debbie. I remember you. Thanks for your great comments. I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it. Encouraging words like that help a lot!

  3. Hey Tina,
    I met you at your book launch the other night–Christine’s friend, Debbie. I really enjoyed your reading, looking forward finishing the rest of the book.
    I did NaNoWriMo last year and found it to be everything I needed it to be. I got to the word count, at the absolute last minute, and then tossed the manuscript aside, maybe for good. But the good thing about it is it taught me that I can write that many words in a month, not all of them great, but some parts were. And I need the pressure, a goal that I can’t change, a deadline that I didn’t set, but still have to meet. It made me focus and take control of my writing and my life, instead of the kids (3 and 5) taking control of me. I had a priority and a goal and I cannot wait until November 1st!!
    You will enjoy it and should join up with the group. I am sure you would really help to inspire a lot of young writers out there.

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