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  • Writer's pictureMarianela de Armas

Say No to NaNoWriMo

November is the worst. It's no surprise that she always comes in last place at the Months Awards. The family obligations of Thanksgiving, the consumerism of Black Friday and the fervent interest in American football are the least of this month's problems. Those awful events take up a tiny space of calendar real estate when compared to the insidious NaNoWriMo --- the horrible abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. I can only surmise this name came about because everyone that participates in its mission is in a huge hurry. The deal is you have to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Since 2011, I've made various attempts and they always go the same way.

The first day, I'm always excited and ready for the challenge. The sun shines, the birds chirp. The writer's muse slips me a note with the perfect idea for a story.

I map out my time on a calendar and pin it up on my wall.

That night same night, I outline my story by hand in my notebook. I come up with a clever title that can apply to any given situation and somewhat of a beginning, but nowhere near a middle or an end. But that's okay because, according to my calendar, that doesn't come into play until mid-November.

The first week always starts off hot. I write amazing words, thoroughly impressing myself. Swelling with confidence, I read some of those words out loud to The Librarian and watch for her smirk of approval. It's a subtle flinch, so I have to look up at her every few words. However, if she laughs, I know that what I've written is garbage and she's overcompensating not to make me feel bad.

Then, the second week, I become obsessed with the intro. Writing and rewriting. Drafting and deleting. Thinking and sketching. Exactly what you're not supposed to do for NaNoWriMo. Inevitably, this is where I attempt to do a little math. I majored in English so I wouldn't have to ever do it again as an adult, and yet...

The NaNoWriMo website does these calculations for you, but, between us, figuring this out makes me feel like a mathematical genius. Anyway, it's always around this milestone that I realize I am something like 10,000 words behind my goal and need to write an extra 16,000 words a day to make it to the finish line. Loosely based on my kind of math, of course.

Feeling defeated, I give myself a few days to recover from the math I never should have performed. And then, a few days turned into a week. The week turned into two. And then it's Thanksgiving and I've moved on to something else. Until November 30. That's the day I feel like I could sit down and type until my fingers bleed. And, c'mon, isn't it a bigger accomplishment to write a novel in one night than in one month? I think so.


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