NaNoWriMo and Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

A blank cork board on Scrivener holds so many possibilities.

Every year I talk to fellow writers just around November, and we discuss the quiet dread that surrounds NaNo: deadlines, timeframes, word counts, ideas. Some spend entire October planing and plotting for November just to unleash the ideas and fulfill the daily quota. And for some it works like a charm: a first draft of a manuscript (or a major part of one) in a month. However, it can also be stressful and nerve-wracking since we all create at our own pace.

This NaNoWriMo I took a somewhat different approach. I saw it as a month of creative possibility. I took my time with the writing. I didn’t obsess over word count – there’s nothing to prove to myself or anyone else about the speed at which I can churn ideas and spill them on paper. What I do need to prove is that I can tell this story right.

I know it very well, it’s an old story quite close to my heart. I can see its beginning and end, but its form, the shape it’s going to take is still cloaked in mist. Every morning when I do the keyboard dance, the fog lifts a bit more and I see its contours, its curves and edges more clearly. And instead of spewing words on the keyboard, I focus on the shape of ideas.

The story that I’m writing now is different. It’s not fantasy, and I’m not writing about Slavic mythology. It is set in the picturesque Balkans wrapped in winter gloom. It involves death and change. And it explores the topics that I know well: family, sisterhood, and secrets hidden underneath the floorboards of an old house.

NaNo is almost over. I have far from 50,000 words in a file, but what I do have are neatly arranged ideas and beats that I can follow and shape into words and sentences. It’s a great foundation for work that is going to extend over a number of months.

And more importantly, I love finding the joy in writing again.

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