Progress: The Muddy Definition
I didn’t do NaNo this year. I keep saying that someday I will, but November never shows up on my calendar as a one-project, one-focus month. Every year, though, I follow along on blogs and Facebook and Twitter and eavesdrop on the conversations about how everyone is doing.
And every year, at this time of the month, with turkeys on order at the grocery store and cranberry sauce gelling in the pot, I think…how must NaNo writers be feeling. Four or five days with kids out of school, family visiting, and tryptophan sending us into naptime…and how many more words left to write?
I find myself worrying a little about NaNo stress levels and hoping that nobody’s really beating themselves up about word count or having to write The End in concrete in a week. I find myself hoping that they know there are many different meanings to progress and knowing that they have already achieved some form of it.
Here are just a few things that qualify, on my tally sheet, as progress:
- Discovering the true, important goal of your hero.
- Figuring out why your antagonist is so mean.
- Working out the elements of your world–whether that be an elven forest, a far planet, or a particular street corner in your neighborhood.
- Writing five chapters in a row without knowing what you’re doing, then realizing the connection between these scenes and the story arc—even if you put off the revision till later.
- Writing a half-page of perfect dialogue.
- Writing one chapter in third person, another in first, two in present-tense, and six in past. And being okay with the fact that you’re playing around and experimenting.
Whether you did NaNo or not this month, I’m betting you achieved one of these progress markers, or another with as much weight. Let’s face it–the best progress of NaNo is taking your writing so seriously, with utter commitment, for this one month. And realizing, out of that month, that–minus the sore wrists and the exhaustion–this is the commitment you want to feel about your writing all year long.
What’s your definition of progress? What did you do this month that makes you proud of yourself as a writer? Leave me a comment and share.
Then go out and buy another two pounds of yams and another can of whipped cream for that pumpkin pie!