NaNo Day 21: Excuses, Excuses

This day last year, I won NaNoWriMo 2012. I was way ahead of schedule, the writing was easy, and it honestly didn’t affect my life that much.

I’ve done fifty thousand words in the month of November twice before. The first time it was a challenge because, well, it was the first time. The second time was a challenge because it was freshman year of college and people had warned me not to compete in NaNoWriMo because November’s such a nasty month for college students (and never tell me I can’t do something, because then I need to do it).

Maybe I read and slept a little less, and sure I wrote in class a lot more (I still don’t know how I managed to four-point fall semester 2012), but all in all, NaNoWriMo was easy.

Enter this year: Third year in a row doing fifty thousand words. Same number of credit hours as last year, and a whole lot less pressure to perform well in my classes. I only have class three. days. a week. Yet NaNoWriMo is insanely difficult this year.

Maybe it’s because this year is a “been there, done that” situation. I’ve proven that I can do NaNo in college already, so I’m not as motivated. That happened junior year of high school too–I just barely made it to my goal of 25k by the end of the month.

Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is so late this year, so I haven’t had my chance to write my brains out over the break from school yet, and I probably won’t even get to do that once the break does come around next week, because I have to do a project and write my genetics term paper during it (my prof assigned both a major project and our freaking term paper to be due the day we get back from break–not cool, genetics prof, not cool).

Maybe it’s because my homework level has exploded. I’m barreling my way through internship and study abroad applications; figuring out whether or not to double major or do a minor or find a part-time job on top of writing and critiquing and conference planning. I’m writing and editing short story after short story in order to be ready for my college’s winter writing competitions and lit mag submissions that are all due in a couple weeks.

Or maybe it’s because of everything I’ve been through in the past year. While I guess you can say this is true every year, I’m a much different person, now, as a sophomore, than I was as a freshman. And that’s primarily because of writing. I basically sprinted through writing from NaNoWriMo senior year of high school through September of this year. During that time I wrote two novels, lots of short stories and songs and poems, won contests, got published in anthologies and lit mags, and from February of this year through September, I spent countless hours revising Cadence.

That novel basically became the meaning of my life this summer–during July and August, I worked on it ten or twelve hours a day, six days a week, sometimes more. Then in September I was done and I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.

I have been so in the mode of Cadence for so long that it’s strange to suddenly be completely out of that universe and the heads of those characters, and thrust into new ones. And as much as I love The End Where I Begin, it’s taking some getting used to.

So: NaNoWriMo is hard this year. A lot harder than usual. But you know what else? My very first year doing NaNoWriMo, I competed in the Young Writers Program, which meant that I could choose my own word count to shoot for during the month. I chose 25,000 words, and I didn’t begin writing that novel at all until the evening of November 21st. And I still finished on time despite that obstacle.

I have won NaNoWriMo every year since freshman year of high school. This is my sixth year competing.

Sure, things are a little harder than usual this year. And maybe (probably) I won’t finish on the schedule I set up for myself. But I’m not giving up–I’m going to keep pushing through.

And I will have 50,000 words written by the end of November.

day 21Thanks for the smiley of encouragement, Hannah.

~Julia

PS. LESS THAN TWELVE HOURS UNTIL CATCHING FIRE!!!!! AHHHHHHHH! MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!!!

PPS. Happy day-after-your-birthday to one of my best friends in the world, Tatiana! She is brilliant and the snarkiest of snark monkeys. She hasn’t posted in a while, but you should check out her blog here anyway.

PPPS. BUT SERIOUSLY OHMYGOSH CATCHING FIREEEEE! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S FINALLY HEREEEE! WAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

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3 thoughts on “NaNo Day 21: Excuses, Excuses

  1. Julia, this is certainly another delightful blog post! You’re also establishing yourself as a strong leader of the next generation of writers! Being in the very fortunate circumstance of knowing a lot of successful writers on Facebook, it’s clear that you’re doing everything in the best possible way. Also, having a successful experience at the University of Michigan will be something that you will feel very good about throughout your career! Michigan is well on its way to being recognized internationally as a literary powerhouse. You are succeeding in a fantastic and dynamic journey, with many extraordinary moments ahead!

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