A hiatus, whether announced or not, is still some time away from an activity. I just wish, as I return to this blog, that I had more to show for it. “Oh no,” I hear my inner editor speak up as I type, “another self-loathing post about failure, and lack of accomplishment. Don’t you do anything else?” Shit yes I do. And that’s pretty much why I haven’t been updating. However, I’m not here to justify, or excuse or explain myself. I am here to try to account for my abysmally low word count in 2009’s National Novel Writing Month.
In case you don’t know anything about it, the goal is to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. I have less than 10% done, and it is the 20th. The same thing happened to my word count last year, but for reasons that could only be uninteresting and miserable to explore any further. I’ve won this challenge in years past–three times in fact–so I know this can be accomplished. So why am I having trouble this year?
The only reason I can figure, is that I’m having trouble with quality. NaNo (as it is affectionately called by participants) is not about quality, it’s about quantity. It’s about the doing for the sheer fun, joy, thrill, and rush of accomplishment and crossing that finish line. Writing in this manner–for quantity and fun–is great, good exercise. But when does the need to be writing for a statement trump the attachment for simply finishing? I believe my largest issue with completing this year’s word count comes in the form of wanting the quality of the writing to be better than it can be to finish for quantity.
A fellow writer/former participant stands by his assertion that it is better to write for quality all the time, than it is for quantity. and that the latter is a simple waste of time. While I find myself struggling with quantity this year, I don’t think his statement is completely valid. There is something (jealously, perhaps) to be said about those inspired fingers and minds that can pound out the thousands upon thousands of words required for this challenge. I believe the words that flow from above into your fingers and onto the page this month, are as important as the ones you may replace, or switch orders with, in later drafts. For me, it is difficult to think that any exercise that gives you pleasure, or creatively frees you, is a waste of time at all.
But I still can’t increase that word count. I’ve pulled out all my old tricks, and I’ve done all my prep-work. I like to think I’m getting something down that is more quality based than it would have been had I been more prolific this month, but that might be a dodge. Maybe it is time for new tricks, or to put in enough effort so tricks don’t have to work, and pumping out 1700 words a day would be no sweat again. I believe it is time to practice; time to get some words down on the page. I’ve been far too long away.