Having attended three game jam weekends, I can say that despite disparate disciplines, NaNoWriMo is similar. Over nearly 48 hours, jammers will work in teams or individually to build small games, just as from November 1st to 30th, writers write 50,000-word novels. I saw sickness and fatigue at game jams from people not listening to the organizational staff. After my novel-writing month, I encountered health problems, too. It’s doable, but extend it out to two months…
You don’t need to prove yourself to yourself that you can do it in a month.
I’m glad that I have a finished novel [read here] that I can shop around, and I’m happy with the results, but I’m still dealing with some of the pains I endured even two weeks later. If certain variables were different, I could write another novel in a month. Maybe if I had the full month off? Maybe if I didn’t have any external stress weighing me down? Maybe if my headaches were fixed entirely? For my second novel, I’ll write it over the course of three months, maybe even four, and I won’t give myself as harsh of a scope.
I did write more than the 50,000-word requirement for NaNoWriMo.
Still, there’s something about the pressure of external competition that inspires you to forget about yourself. Sometimes, pushing through is good. If you’re tired during a physical workout, you can usually figure out if you’re being lazy or hurting. You can push through laziness but you can’t push through hurting. If you’re tired during a mental workout, whether it’s a game jam or NaNoWriMo or any other kind of team competition, you don’t really feel the same sorts of health issues. They’re more insidious.
You’ll think another cup of coffee will sort through your problems.
They will, which is the problem, because, in the short-term, caffeine is great, but long-term, it can affect your health if you’re not careful. Same with eating more food to give yourself more energy to work longer hours. That might work in the short-term, but long-term, you’ll hurt your body by taking in too many calories and your mind by pushing yourself past your normal breaking points. I currently have a minor enough of a headache behind my head where my neck connects, which could be a hypertension headache, where I am taking it easy. It’s still rough when combined with a minor migraine behind my right eye.
This should all pass soon.
If it doesn’t, then I’ll know to slow it down. I don’t need to finish this essay within the next ten minutes before I go to lunch, but if I can keep writing in this condition, I won’t feel worse. I just noticed these sensations pop up after a particularly stressful set of phone calls so as long as I keep myself focused on maintaining a distance with these rude dudes [dudettes, and dudetceteras], then I’ll be fine. I don’t often experience illnesses or flus, so I probably won’t be taken down by any of those. When I have, though, it’s always been for the same reason: taking care of my mission rather than taking care of myself.
NaNoWriMo is a catchy word and a nonprofit organization.
I don’t think it’s a realistic goal to achieve, which I think is why it’s widely known about but not widely participated in, like, say, game jams. Game developers around the world participate in game jams frequently. Novels may take more time to create than games, but I can write short stories faster than a weekend, sometimes in a few hours, so I think it’s that we need to change our perceptions of novel-writing.
Would novel jamming be a better concept?
After completing this novel, I found out about an organization that hosts events and workshops for writers. Maybe they’d have something like that? When I was skimming through Balzac’s biography recently, I learned that he would have been found more likely at home writing than in the writer’s parlors he wrote about, but I’m sure if more of those resources were available for us writers, like game jam environments are available to game developers, then we might see more resurgences in writing.
Will we see more writing parlors in the future?
I’m not sure how the modern novel looks like or even how novels will look like in fifty years. I know that through writing “A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name?,” I enjoyed all aspects of writing, and it would be a shame if novel-writing were overtaken by other disciplines. We need more novels out there. Good ones. I think there is value in fiction and I think that we’ll still see fiction novels being sold in supermarkets and specialty stores for centuries to come, whether they’re classics or newly written either leisurely or through a novel jam could be open for interpretation.
Let’s say I finish my second novel over the course of a few months.
Let’s say I figure out a good format where I can still integrate into polite society without funneling away all my free time into writing. If I could write fiction full-time, then I’d probably crank out novels in shorter amounts of time than NaNoWriMo, but if you have any sort of full-time obligation, then I think it’s a terrible idea to attempt to write a novel in one month.
It’s OK to give yourself time to breathe.
It’s OK to not work within such a tight timeframe and constraints, even if you write fiction frequently. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have a tough time keeping all the events, characters, and themes together, even if it’s fun for you. The biggest problem I had writing the novel in the month was I had to sacrifice many other trivialities that I will often engage in just for the sake of exploring new ideas or unwinding a bit. I missed that during NaNoWriMo.
Should it be called NaNoWriMoOnIfYoCa [Only If You’re Careful] instead?
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium, my personal experiences, and my professional experience.|
|Inspirations: Although I didn’t quite write within the guidelines established by this non-profit and although I do like what they’re doing, this is just a piece that is critical in a loving way about how it can be more viable for those of you that aren’t crazy like me and can’t just dump in some 100-hours into writing in one month.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel and Sober Living writings.|
|Picture: This picture didn’t take one month to make.|
|Written On: December 14th, 2019 [30 minutes, from 2:19am to 2:49am, Gdocs]|
|Last Edited: December 14th, 2019 [Some edits to adapt from Gdocs to WordPress… so… second draft?]|