Vomiting up a novel in a month sounds like a terrible idea. But I’d have to say it might have singlehandedly saved me. I’d been struggling with writing, dancing around the subject, and editing my heart out, but it hadn’t led me anywhere. Instead of guiding me and giving me a purpose, I’d been stuck in neutral, spinning my tires, and peeling off the rubber at a rather rapid pace. I’d edited a couple of manuscripts before setting them aside, incomplete. It had been a battle, a constant struggle, and writing felt more like a chore than a pleasure.
To promote my debut novel, I’d been on blog tours, book signings, conducted giveaways, sought out top reviewers, had a book trailer produced on my behalf, built up a Facebook following, placed ads with AdWords, attended mystery conferences, and had a website built. But it all seemed for naught. For nearly a year, I went through one of the unhappiest periods of my life, not even knowing if I would have my second manuscript published, or my third, let alone have a career in writing. Editing fueled my disdain and frustration, and the battle waged on.
But rather than throw in the towel, walk away, and move on with my life, I decided to peel back the layers and rediscover why I truly loved writing. Rather than let the ashes suffocate me and bury me six feet under, I made a conscious effort to rise above all the heartache and pain and to break through the surface. And I found that purpose through NaNoWriMo.
Having what amounted to a complete and utter failure gave me the power to truly let go and not worry about what happened, and I rediscovered that no one had power over me unless I gave it to them. Instead of writing for an audience filled with expectations, I realized I didn’t need to worry about readers (since those were few and far between), and I didn’t have to worry about failure at all, because I’d already reached a failure of epic proportions. Anonymity gave me power.
And so I wrote and wrote, pounding away on the keyboard, as the pages filled out before my eyes. Emotion poured out of me, along with hopes and dreams. Instead of keeping all those pent-up emotions on the inside, I let them guide the pages in front of me, and the experience proved rather cathartic. Forcing myself to write 50,000 words in a month when I already had a serious amount of stress on my plate was probably one of the best decisions I’d ever made. Because now I had purpose and meaning in my writing life, both of which had been missing for some time. And getting up at 4:40 in the morning probably sounds insane, but days that begin with writing are better than days that do not. So now that it’s November, I couldn’t be happier, because once again I’ll test my creative limits and heave up another novel. Those 4:40 mornings sound nearly blissful, and the challenge of 50,000 words will guide me once again.