I’ve found that one of the best ways to motivate yourself to doing a thing is to tell other people you’re doing that thing – it’s working for this blog because it’s public, it worked for my A-level results because I told my friends it’d be UCL or nothing, and it worked to help me hit 600 hours of Football Manager 2013 because I could talk about that glorious game with my Dad on a regular basis. And so, in that vein, I’m gonna make myself do NaNoWriMo, by telling you I’m doing it, so you can poke me with a stick if ever I waver from that promise.
NaNoWriMo – for all three of you who are WordPress bloggers but don’t know about writing events like this – stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November, a feat which requires 1,667 words of writing a day (if I remember correctly). The idea is simply to write, not edit, and the short timescale ensures you’ll actually make progress with your novel, an idea which appeals to me, considering I’m about 20,000 words through my current novel and it’s taken me four frakking years.
Next, I feel some explanation is in order, because undertaking NaNoWriMo is a fool’s errand at the best of times, and for me personally, it might be actually impossible; I’m not saying my life is too interesting to bother with such trivial word count-chasing pursuits, but considering I write for two (maybe three) magazines, keep a daily blog, plan to start a second blog (more news on that later!), and am still doing an English degree, involving a crap-ton of reading and rather a lot of writing, I may literally not have the hours in the day to write another 1,667 words (also did I mention I’ve got two parties coming up, an indefinite number of trips to bars, and I play three, sometimes four, sports a week, all of which will continue into November?).
I’m giving up reason, forethought, and probably sleep, therefore, for the simple goal of doing something. I’ve spent a lot of my life not doing things: not going out with friends, not going to parties, not really getting into my writing projects, both this blog and my novel, as well as a load of other ideas and plans that’ve never gotten off the ground. And while the idea of reinventing yourself once you leave home is painfully cliched, it is actually quite helpful; I have seven and a half hours of seminars and lectures a week, so the rest of the week I can do whatever I want. Some of that time is taken up with reading and essay-writing, of course, but now I don’t have to commute for 90 minutes to get to school, nor am I limited in terms of the people I hang out with by classes divided by the arbitrary ability to rote-learn a times table. For the first time in my life, I have genuine flexibility, both in terms of my schedule, and how I feel about myself and the things I’m comfortable doing, and what I’m comfortable with is doing ALL THE THINGS!
Also I’ve realised that I really like writing. Like, really. Writing anything too; I’d always had the pipedream of being a novelist, but in the three weeks I’ve been at UCL, I’ve stuck a poem up on here – loved writing it – written a match report for a rugby team I don’t really know – even seeing UCL lose 7-60 was fun – and I think this blog has started to be readable and interesting again – the posts are longer, and more people are reading them, and I don’t think it’s just the influx of new friends who are eager to see why the Hell I keep linking to a site named after me on Facebook. And so writing another thing – a piece of fiction of my own creation, no less – is a very good thing as far as the newly versatile (in interest, if not ability) me is concerned.
The third part of this post is a simple plug: do NaNoWriMo with me! My username is, of course, ‘James Patrick Casey’, and I’d be happy to add any of you guys on the site so we can bitch about not being able to hit 50,000 words together! The challenge is flexible – 50,000 words is a suggestion, you can choose whatever target you like – and the lack of editing time means all our novels will suck at least a little bit, so don’t worry about that. Also, if you sign up and add me, you can see the wonderful job I did of scraping together a cover on gimp using the brush tool and a drawing of a hand nicked from the Internet, which I don’t think looks too bad (right?).
But whether you’re joining the site or not, just bear in mind that I might have to give up on sleep for the next month; so if these posts become brain-dead, or I literally die from exhaustion and the Enfield Independent runs a capitalised headline ‘BOY WRITES HIMSELF TO DEATH’, you’ll know why. If that does happen, this post will serve as my will – everything I own will be given to the tallest person called Doug in the United Kingdom.
Ask the Census people to help you out with that one.