Discipline is a choice.

So it’s that time again. National Novel Writing Month. This will be my second year participating. And so far, I’m still enjoying myself.

My last attempt was in 2014, which I “won” by completing the targeted 50,000 words. I was so excited and amazed that I had actually done it. I had written my very first, first draft. I waited for a week before starting to edit and began by printing out small parts at a time. I was trying to add numbers to my pages, which in hindsight was really not that important. And being the Open Office novice that I am, when it asked if I wanted to save my changes I said no. I had not liked the way the numbers were going, so I of course didn’t want to save it. Little did I know that you NEVER say you don’t want to save. Yep, I lost my entire draft, never to be retrieved. We tried everything, but since I had only saved it on a flash drive, it was lost.

I was devastated to say the least. I didn’t really write much for an entire year. I understood my mistake, and will never repeat it. My work now is backed up 5 times. No you won’t get this girl again. But the mistake did take a lot out of me. I felt in one way, that I had completed a first draft, and that maybe that was all my interest held. But I couldn’t get past the nagging feeling that I needed to start again.

I didn’t participate in NaNo last year. I’m not even sure now why, other than I was still reeling from the past loss. But this year I felt it was time. I have been writing a little bit in my spare time. Also writing an entire composition book full of poetry, about my life, my children, and whatever is on my mind at the time. And writing by hand, I believe, also fires up those brain cells of imagination. For that reason I still do all my outlines by hand. I’ve downloaded Scrivner but have yet to use it. It just seems right to do it by putting pen to paper.

This years NaNo project is the first novel I outlined nearly 6 yrs ago. This is the novel I feel I am supposed to write. My plan was to write a few others before this one, to sharpen my skills. I wanted to give my best to this one. But this year I’m tackling it in a mad flurry of 30 days before I change my mind. I need to, you see, because the nagging voices of my characters will simply not leave me alone. It’s like it’s April 14th and you haven’t done your taxes yet. it’s that annoying. So I’m putting it to paper, whether it will be my best work or not. That is what editing, and re-writes are for.

I guess my ¬†question is, why is it so much easier to write everyday during NaNo when I haven’t been able to form that discipline any other time? I can’t wait to get started each day, and excitedly post my word count of the day on social media. Is it the comradery of knowing you are among thousands of others in the same goal of getting that first draft down on paper? Is it the accountability when you commit online and don’t want to admit to others that you’ve failed? Whatever it is, it is working. And for that I am grateful.

I now know that I can do it when I put my mind to it. That if I want this to be my new career or just my new hobby, that all I need to do is show up everyday and write. Write what I’m feeling. Write that latest project, or new poem. Or even just write a blog post. Just show up and do the work. After all, all you have to do to be called a writer is write. And for now, that’s exactly what I am.