Now that NaNoWriMo has ground to a halt—congratulations to those who finished, better luck next year to those who didn’t, and how about that local sports team to those who gave the whole damn thing a miss—keyboards everywhere are going still. Pens remain capped. Cliffhanger scenes continue to hang and villains go unpunished.
That’s because, all across the country and the continent and the globe, people have stopped writing.
This is the sad truth of NaNo, even for ‘winners’. A lot of people hit that 50,000 word mark and call it a day. Or a month, or whatever. Whether or not the story is finished. And that’s fine if all you wanted to do was hit the space bar 50,000 times. Hell, build up your finger strength and you could probably knock that out in a day.*
“Oh, but I’ll come back to it,” you say. “Maybe after the holidays. Or next year. Or in the spring.” And you think that when you come back, you’ll be able to fix the huge mess that this story is before continuing on to the end. You know. When you get around to it. But you’ll totally finish it. You swear.
I can smell the lies on you.
Half a story is no damn use to anyone. It’s like starting to cook a meal, getting all the ingredients together, getting some of them in the pot, and then turning off the stove and walking away. “Oh, I started a meal once. But, you know, stuff happened and I never finished it. But I’ll go back to it one day, I swear.”
You will not. Because, much like the aborted attempt at cooking, by the time you get around to lifting the lid, the story will have decayed. You’ll be lucky if there aren’t rats in there big enough to eat your face. You’ll take one look at that mess and give up. Again. Because you’ve lost the desire. It’s not as important any more.
Finish what you start. If it’s a mess, let it be a mess until it’s done. Then you can fix it, or look upon it as a learning experience, or do what you will.
But if your story is not yet finished, then neither are you.
*After saying this, I had to do a little experiment to see if it was true. Assume four keystrokes per second (my average) times 60 seconds. 240 strikes per minute. 50,000 divided by 240 is 208.3332 minutes. Divided by 60 minutes is 3.47222 hours. See? Easy.