NaNoWriMo is like a barracuda. This is partly because they are both slippery and sharp-toothed and can make sleeping very difficult, but mostly because they are both fun to say. The thing about NaNoWriMo that is highly un-barracuda-like, however, is that it is full of lessons whereas a barracuda is mostly just full of internal organs and whatever it has eaten recently. These lessons are many and varied, but one of the most important (and difficult) lessons that I’ve learned while participating in NaNo is how important (and difficult) it is to do what you know you need to do when you’d rather do something else.
This is the heart and soul of NaNoWriMo. When you’ve got 50,000 words to write, you have to dedicate a lot of time to writing them. Of course, there are a lot of other things begging you to spend your time with them instead, more exciting things like eating and sleeping and taking showers. You have to make the choice, over and over, to just sit down and write when you could be watching Lost (a show that I don’t recommend starting when you’re about to do something that keeps you from being able to watch it, by the way) or staring blankly at a wall because you’re tired of mentally untangling the endless knots and kinks of your plot.
It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. It’s not easy to get up at three in the morning and go put vegetables on shelves either, but if I just went back to sleep instead I’d lose my job and any chance of saving enough money to return to school. It’s not easy to resist the temptation to shoot off a satisfyingly snide remark when someone annoys you, but if you let your tongue control you instead of controlling your tongue you’ll end up hurting yourself and those around you. It’s not easy to do your job well when you could do the bare minimum to get by, or to take responsibility for your actions when you could shift the blame, but the path of least resistance is only easy because it leads you down.
Which brings me back to the barracuda. Sure, it’s slippery and its teeth are sharp and fighting it is scary and hard, but if you don’t kill it it’s going to kill you, and while laying down and dying may be easy, I don’t think I have to point out why it’s not the best choice. So fight the barracuda, do what’s right even when it’s hard, sit down and write and let the fun and games wait a while and at the end of the month, instead of a series of wasted opportunities and regrets, you’ll have a book. And books, unlike barracudas, are wonderful things that are well worth the effort it takes to make them.
Speaking of which, I should probably get back to writing mine. I keep checking WordPress’s word counter and having to remind myself that these words don’t count toward my 50k. See you later!