That’s right folks, it’s November. Whereas others see the beginning of the holidays and the promise of turkey, I see opportunity. I see a chance to dive into the craft of writing along with millions of others. That means lack of sleep, endless cups of coffee, and the unflinching dedication to an idea that will carry me through the next 30 days. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month.
I’m in and I’ve never been more excited. Because I’ve stumbled across a story that inspires me to take up the challenge. Last year, I benched myself due to sheer exhaustion. I wasn’t blocked. But for the life of me, I just couldn’t commit to any idea that came my way. A spark would hit me. I’d sit upright and open up a blank document. And that’s as far as I’d get as I’d linger in self-doubt, telling myself that it’s a stupid idea that won’t get me anywhere. It’s worth noting that a year ago, I was the busiest I had ever been as a student. Full course loads followed by an internship that required all of my free time. Needless to say, I wasn’t psyched to add anything else to my plate. Rather, I just wanted to take the pressure off entirely.
So I stood on the sidelines, watching as my friends and classmates embarked on the challenge. And I envied every one of them. I do not regret taking that creative time off. It was probably the best decision I could have made at the time. But there’s still a part of me that wished I had made a different choice. Because during that month, I never felt more alone.
Writing itself is a lonely thing. As writers, we like to fancy ourselves as geniuses, celebrities of sorts. An idol whom others can flock to and revel in all our glory. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. A writer is someone who spends hundreds of hours typing on a computer (or typewriter, if you still do that sort of thing). That’s really all we do. Type, type, and type away, the clicking of the keyboard being our only companion, minus the internal monologue guiding our hands. It’s a freakin’ marathon. Let me be the first to say that no writer churns out a good draft in one night. And believe me, it took me a while to admit that. We have to get there, something we do largely on our own.
National Novel Writing Month gives writers a unique opportunity to write together. And any writer will tell you that that’s a gift that keeps on giving; the gift of comfort. It’s reassuring to know that even as I’ve hit a wall and gone completely mad in my closed-off room, there’s someone else out there going through the exact same thing. Sure, you don’t need a specific month to remind you of this. After all, people write every day. But to know that there are other, serious writers making this month-long commitment along with me, it makes me feel like I’m not the only one out on that dark and lonely road, huffing and puffing. There’s someone right beside me, struggling just as I am. Like running a marathon.
I don’t know what will become of my idea. I’ve never even written a novel before. I’ve only just started this past weekend. But what will become of it a week from now? A month from now? Ah, the possibilities are endless. All I know for sure is that I’m not going to waste this month again. Or any other month, for that matter. I am beginning now, and that’s all that matters. Because any idea is an idea worth chasing. Perhaps you should begin the chase too. You might be surprised at what you may find at the end of it.