For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. People across the globe take part every November. To “win”, you must write 50,000 words in 30 days, but the real goal is to get you to sit your butt in a chair and write.
Like so many others, I struggle with that part. I take pleasure in having written, not in the painful task of actually writing. It’s work. Brain hurt.
One of the more frustrating aspects of writing in today’s social media world is that you have so little to show for it until you’re finished. Sure, you could post a daily word count, but no one cares. Some people say you should tell everyone the details of your story, because the pressure of failing to deliver will motivate you to finish. Other people say you shouldn’t tell a soul, because containing the excitement will propel you forward in order to attain release. There’s probably no right answer, and we’re all motivated in different ways, but as this year’s NaNoWriMo approached, I started to get ideas.
During the months to years it takes to start and finish a novel, wouldn’t it be nice to have entertaining ways of sharing your experience? NaNoWriMo attempts to build a community around the act of writing. To make it social. Less lonely. In many ways, they succeed, but I wanted something more. I wanted to simultaneously produce content unrelated to my novel that I could share along the way.
To that end, I decided to shoot a short time lapse video every day of NaNoWriMo (minus those two days when I was sick) and post them to Instagram.
This video here combines them into a single compilation. It takes us from snowy Chicago to sunny Carolina. Bookstores, airplanes, coffee, beer, wine, and whiskey. Thirty days of writing distilled into a minute and a half. They’re nothing fancy. I didn’t put much planning into them. I shot them all on my phone with minimal lighting manipulation. Still, I’m rather proud of the finished product.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor. It’s just you, a keyboard or pen, your imagination, and endless self-doubt.
The act of posting these videos negated that loneliness a bit. It was a way to express my creativity and daily accomplishment without “finishing”. The pressure of posting that video every day, of thinking up a new shot (which is difficult when most of your writing is done in the same location), proved a constant source of motivation. People liked the videos, and that made me want to produce them, which in turn resulted in more words on paper/screen.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what it takes to sit yourself down and write. You simply have to do it. Words won’t write themselves. Everyone who liked and commented on my videos helped me win NaNoWriMo . The videos acted like one of those social apps for exercising, where people can cheer you on while you run. People cheered me on while I wrote, and it made all the difference in the world. Thanks to all of you.
Now I have a novel to finish.
Also published on Medium.