I guess the big news is that I passed the 50,000 word goal yesterday. I’m pleased I reached that goal, but for me nano is not over because the story is still unfolding in my head, and it’s the story that really matters, not the word count. Sadly a lot of people lose sight of that bigger goal in the hunt for the numerical one.
Every time I go on the nano forums I see threads about discouraged people giving up because they know they can’t hit the target of 50,000 words. The goal posts are too far and time is too short. The dream of writing a book and becoming a real author is fading.
I understand the disappointment, but I really wish I could reach out and tell all these unhappy people that word count is not what nano is really about. The word count, the time limit, and even the sense of competition generated by the hype, all of these things are just motivators to help us learn the most vital lesson about writing – that it’s hard word and requires both dedication and self-discipline.
The creative part of writing is important, I’m not denying that, but as Albert Einstein said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work”. And he should know.
You can be the most talented, creative person alive, but your talent will mean nothing if you don’t put in the hard work to translate your ideas into… something. Be it a novel, a painting, a piece of sculpture, a song, an invention, or just a new way of doing something better, none of these things will be real until they get out of your head and become something tangible.
When I first did nano back in 2004, I had been writing a science fiction story off and on for about three years and I could not see an end to it. So I felt very disillusioned with myself. Doing nano was an attempt to see if I could actually finish something.
At the end of November 2004, I had a story I liked so much I kept on working at it for another seven years. It changed from a simple, stand-alone story into a bit of a monster many volumes long and now there is very little of the original writing left, which is probably a very good thing as I was still learning how to write. The most important thing that came out of that first nano however, was not the story but the self-discipline I learned. Writing is like a job and should be treated with the same work ethic.
I still haven’t published anything, but in October of this year I did cross another hurdle; I submitted to a publisher. I haven’t heard anything back from the publisher and I don’t expect to, but in January of next year I will give myself an extraordinary birthday present – I will self publish Vokhtah and then the apprenticeship I began in 2004 will finally be finished.
Becoming a real, honest-to-god writer was a journey that only began with nano. To all those who are just starting that journey I say, “Don’t give up! The dream is worth the effort”.