I get it, I totally do. 50,000 words in a month. The motivation that comes from daily targets, mutual support, and watching the word count grow. And it works, I know – there’s a perceptive account here of how and why. So I only speak for myself here – it’s just not for me. Never say never of course, but at this point in life, I don’t think it ever will be.
A long time ago, 30 years or more, I went to a writers’ round table at the Edinburgh Festival. My memory being what it is, I don’t remember much, not even who was there. Except for two – Gore Vidal and Beryl Bainbridge. I recall very little about Vidal except that he was Vidal – entertaining, caustic, supercilious, bitchy. The only precise moment that has stayed in my mind ever since was a question put to Beryl Bainbridge by a woman in the audience: ‘How do you stop yourself finding excuses not to write, all those chores about the house, like the washing still to be done?’ For a moment Bainbridge was thrown – she understood the words of the question but it took her a while to fathom the full meaning. Then she said, ‘I’m afraid my house is a total mess. Because the chores come after the writing, never before.’
So it is with me. Fortunately, Mrs. B’s tolerance for mess is similar to mine, so I don’t have to feel guilty. It just accumulates till we both decide that something needs to be done. And in the meantime, I write. I do set targets and look at the word count, but no more in November than any other month. Maybe one day, it will just so happen that the start of a new book coincides with NaNoWriMo, but even then I probably wouldn’t do it. For me, NaNoWriMo is every month of the year, whether I’m on draft one or 21.
But that’s because I don’t have a day job anymore. When I did, who knows? Perhaps NaNoWriMo would have helped. I used to get in a couple of hours before leaving for work, a bit more in the evening, a sprint during the holidays. Now I’ve got time every day, I make the most of it. Because I may have the days but the years, I’m afraid, have gone. Which is a shame because by my calculations (number of ideas divided by daily output) I’ll need to keep writing till I’m 138. Hmm… Better get back to the WIP.