National Novel Writing Month: Dragged Down By Excuses

Last week was much better.

In the bleakest of moments, a flood of excuses pours into my mind. What good is writing 50,000 words when they aren't 50,000 good words? Should I not focus on writing well rather than upchucking prose in order to fulfill a self-imposed quota?

And that is where the true battle of National Novel Writing Month begins -- in defeating your own demons. They don't seem all that demonic, these words like "doubt," "frustration," "apathy," but in the mind of the NaNoWriMo participant, they create a kind of hell.

I know I must overcome them if I'm going to punk down 50,000 words by the end and so I try to get beyond them. It doesn't help that life continues to get in the way.

So how many words have I written? Read on ...

I know I should forsake poker night. Ah, the weekly ritual of donating ten bucks to my appreciative friends! Yet when push comes to shove I'm out the door and away from my writing desk. My NaNoWriMo writing buddy? He hasn't been much help. The sucker was at poker night as well.

Then there's my professional life, the great bane of creativity. Over the second week of NaNoWriMo, my position here at New Times afforded me the opportunity to visit New York City for a bit of a conference. Away from my nest (and my supply of iced Americanos from Cartel Coffee Lab) I found it much harder to concentrate. How could I write when there is an entire city waiting beyond my hotel room to explore?

Ray Bradbury said it best: "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

Alas, I fear that my novel and I are being destroyed.

Like last week, my inbox buzzed with the receipt of a pep talk from a fellow NaNoWriMo participant named Chris Baty.

"Trust the process," Baty said. "If you're doubting yourself or your story, just keep moving forward. It will work itself out in the end. Every year, NaNoWriMo authors who press on to 50K are treated to the equivalent of NaNoWriMo's northern lights."

I have 2 of 50,000 words for Chris Baty. I'll let you figure out what they are.

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Jonathan McNamara