One reason National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo, for those in the know — does not appeal to me is that I have never been a marathon runner. I’m a kindling, a firefly. I burn bright and fierce and am gone tomorrow.
I’ve never been the sporty type. At school I had to do two years of cross country (it was either that or a team sport, yuck.) I was stick thin, all bone and muscle, training three or four times a week for our races against other schools. And I didn’t do too badly, either. But I cheated.
Where my best friend would maintain a steady plodding pace, unfaltering, unwaving, I sprinted. Sprint and walk, sprint and walk. My energy came in bursts, and I recovered quickly. I tried to change but the races where I forced myself to maintain a steady pace were my worst. Perhaps I am just not built for the long haul.
The same applies to my writing.
Write 1,667 words in a day? Fine. Been there, done that. Write 1,667 words a day every day on the same story for 30 days? No thank you.
A marathon is about being committed to one goal to the exclusion of all else, and I have my fingers in far too many pies for that. I’d get bored working on the same project all the time, so I work on many projects in many sprints.
It’s Monday night! I’m supposed to update my webfiction on Tuesday. Sprint, sprint, sprint! Phew, that’s over. I’ll stroll for a bit until… Oh noes, I’m behind on my schedule for that short story anthology! Sprint again! And when that’s dusted I’ll take a week off fiction and write book reviews.
I’d rather run loads of little races than one big one. It keeps me fresh, keeps me challenged. It avoids that dreaded mid-race slump where nothing seems worthwhile anymore and the finish stretches further and further away.
And if you add up all the sprints, well then I guess I am a marathon writer. Just a cheating one.