One of my fellow bloggers, Doug Oldfield posted on his Writing Fiction Blog reminded me that November starts the National Novel Writing Month or as it’s more affectionately known NaNoWriMo. The goal is for authors to write 50,000 words on a novel during the month of November. A novel averages 80,000-100,000 words so in one month quite a bit of progress could be made on a novel. It means 1,667 words per day, according to Doug’s calculations. When I’m in the throes of writing a novel, I consider three double-spaced pages a good amount to throw down in one day – that equals between 900-1,000 words per day.
Doug participates and I’ve known others who do. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.nanowrimo.com to sign up.
I tried it once with one of my writing group buddies who decided to up the ante after reading about NaNoWriMo. He challenged us to write 2,000 per day for six weeks. Here’s my account of attempting to meet that goal.
I needed the challenge; I needed the prod; I needed the support. So I agreed to join five fellow writers in the ultimate writing race.
We would each write a novel in six weeks by writing 2,000 words per day. I listened to the plan concocted by one of my writing friends and vacillated between excitement and terror.
Someone once told me he raised his sons with two adages as the driving force: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff; and 2) Almost everything is the small stuff. I thought about tattooing the words on my forehead because I tend to forget them so often.
Several years ago, my daughter and I took a trip to Italy. At the Rome airport preparing to end our month-long Italian journey, we discovered we were bumped from the flight. Fear edged itself up my spine, and I imagined us stuck in the airport overnight. My daughter told me to sit down and wait instead of harassing the ticket agent.
As I sat I remembered the dream from the night before where my nieces who had been murdered danced in front of me singing, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Sitting in the airport plastic seats, I smiled. After all, what would be so horrible about having to stay one more night in Rome? I relaxed just as the intercom asked me to come to the counter.
We were booked into an earlier flight and for our inconvenience, both my daughter and I were given $500 vouchers toward our next flight. So that’s what happens when I let go and forget about the small stuff? Not bad.
When we landed in Atlanta, we waited for our luggage to come out on the carousel so we could pass through customs. That morning in room, my daughter sat on my suitcase while I zipped – I was extremely overloaded. I felt relief to see the suitcase appear on the carousel in one piece. Before it got to me, I noticed a pair of pink underpants, suspiciously similar to the ones I’d packed in the top of the suitcase, coming toward me on the belt. Then another pair and another floated by me, followed by my large suitcase erupting underwear out of the broken zipper.
A roll of yellow tape later, provided by yet another airport agent, my daughter and I sat waiting for our plane to Jacksonville laughing about my dirty underwear’s Atlanta debut.
“My camera!” I said. “I packed my camera last on top, and I don’t remember seeing it.”
“Can’t do anything about it now,” my daughter said.
“Small stuff,” I replied. “It’s all small stuff.”
So 2,000 words a day? Small stuff compared to the bigger baggage of life. Even then, with a roll of tape and some kindness from strangers and friends, even airing dirty laundry in public is small stuff, too.
NOTE: I didn’t quite make the goal. The novel is still unfinished, but I’ve written two since then. Although after remembering those efforts a few years back, just maybe it’s time to pull it out and start again. Small stuff indeed.