Five days in to NaNoWriMo, I was burned out. I was tired, stressed out, anxious, and felt chained to my computer. Every moment that I didn’t spend writing was full of guilt and self-doubt. Why did I think it would be fun to impulse-write a novel? 2,000 words per day? What was I thinking? I normally write a 300-word blog post once or twice a week, if that. So where were these 50,000 extra words going to come from?
For the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo, I did okay. I had some momentum from writing a tight prologue to my novel the day before the contest officially began. The next day, I hyped myself up by perusing the message boards on nanowrimo.org and conversing with other participants.
Then, I hit a wall. As I started to run out of ideas, I realized that my characters were haphazardly developed. Where did they come from? What were their motivations? Why did they exist? On day 3, I decided to spend a few hours turning my characters into people. Afterwards, I forced myself to spit out 2,000 words of story.
As I read over what I wrote, I started to become disappointed in myself. Normally I consider myself a talented writer, but the sentences and paragraphs I had thrown on to paper were just as haphazardly formed as my characters were. I had rejected my “short and sweet” writing style in favor of run-on sentences and unrestricted rambling. I started searching for ways to throw in more words. I stopped using contractions. I became wordy.
My main character started to develop ADD. It took her hours to wash her face in the morning because she just could not stop “daydreaming.” Microsoft Word’s Readability Statistics dropped me from grade 12 to grade 5 over a matter of hours. I was officially becoming illiterate.
I hated what I wrote. It wasn’t my style. And I wasn’t enjoying writing. I didn’t feel proud of what I was producing. So I quit. I stopped writing. I took a few days to sit around and play computer games. I watched television. I voted in the election.
But now, I feel like I abandoned my characters. They are begging me not to forget them. They need love and a place to stay, just like any other human being. So, I will continue writing my story.
I have, however, determined that the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days should be reserved only for the insane. Or at least those who have a lot to say. If you are the annoying person at work who just won’t stop running their mouth, then you might have a chance at winning NaNoWriMo. However, if you are naturally quiet and reserved like me, then it might not work out so well.
I’m too hot to be funny. This has brought me great distress as an aspiring comedian.
Some of the funniest humor is self-deprecating. If you want people to laugh, make fun of yourself. People find it hilarious when you bond with them over the mean things that they’re thinking about you.
I recently learned that comedy is truth and pain. If you were born with a big forehead or creepily small hands, all you have to do is talk about how much of a freak you are. Then your audience will stop staring at you and start laughing at (with?) you.
Unfortunately, I was not born with free comedic material. My complementary genes, good health and reasonable fashion sense will always put me at a disadvantage. It’s just not fair. My good looks don’t cause me pain in life, but they are a huge handicap on stage.
Nobody wants to laugh at the hot girl. Picture this: a 5’3″ tall man walks on stage and asks to have his mike lowered. Hilarious. Look at how comically short he is.
Now picture this: A gorgeous 5’3″ woman walks on stage and asks to have her mike lowered. People get annoyed. Women think, “I can’t believe she’s not wearing heels!”
Another example: an obviously overweight woman walks onstage and asks a guy in the front row if he’s going to eat that last cookie. Mean laughter ensues. I walk on stage and ask the same question. Awkward silence. Judgment. Maybe a “boo” or two.
Why do people find such entertainment in others’ pain? Maybe I could complain that I get hit on too often. Is that funny?
Which is a big deal for me because I’m shy. So shy, in fact that it surprises me that my few close friends stuck around long enough to get to know me. But I’m glad they did.
This was an important speech. A toast to my longtime best friend on her wedding day. I was nervous. As the Matron of Honor, I knew that my speech would be remembered for years to come. I wrote and rewrote my thoughts over and over again, asking myself, “is this joke funny or am I crazy?” Will I be met with awkward silence? Judgment? Boos?
And then the day came. I was to take the stage after the Best Man gave his toast. Dinner was served. I looked over at the Best Man and he was giving his note cards one last review. He ordered one last drink from the bar. And then my heart started beating hard in my chest. He was nervous. And that made me more nervous. What if everyone hated his speech? And that made them hate my speech even more?
The Best Man spoke. I barely heard him. Something about the groom. People clapped. We drank champagne. And then it was my turn.
The adrenaline was pumping so hard through my veins; I feared I would drop dead. And ruin their wedding day. The DJ smiled at me apologetically because he forgot my name. It’s okay, I remembered. I took the mike and introduced myself. My hands were shaking. I could barely read the note cards.
I started reading. Talking. I remembered why I was there on stage, to honor and make fun of my best friend.
And then something unexpected happened. People laughed.