It’s NaNoWriMo, or national novel writing month. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. There are many support groups on line with members offering encouragement and holding each other accountable. NaNoWriMo is a great way to immerse yourself in a project, boost your writing output and end the month with a sense of accomplishment.
However, it’s not for everybody. Even if you go into the month with a solid story outline and a detailed plan of how you’ll find the necessary time to get those words down, it can be stressful. Add in an unexpected life event or a manuscript that refuses to cooperate and the stress factor rises. For writers who are more turtle than hare in their approach, a poor NaNoWriMo experience can leave them feeling defeated.
When it comes to writing, I am definitely more turtle than hare. I wrote about that in a blog post five years ago, and it’s still true today.
Frankly, I’d much rather be the hare. Hares have more dash and flash than turtles. They’re sleek and fast and productive. Plus, they’re cute. Turtles, not so much. They’re ground creepers. Members of the reptile family. Turtles have thick, leathery skin, an armored shell, and they are slow. Painfully so.
I can’t remember the last time I received a compliment for going slow. Or gave one out. I like fast. I celebrate fast. So does our culture. Unless it’s a soup that needs simmering or a garden that needs growing, we embrace fast. It’s a mark of pride if our kids talk or walk at an early age. If our dogs finish first in agility. If we get our Christmas shopping done in October. If we write three books a year instead of two. Or two books instead of one.
No wonder the thought of being a turtle held little appeal. But then I found a book on totem animals and learned something about the symbolism behind turtles.
Turtle wisdom encourages us to slow down, to pace ourselves, and to take a break to look within. The wisdom of the turtle lends us determination, persistence, emotional strength and understanding. It teaches us to travel light, to let go of those things we have outgrown.
Turtle wisdom reassures us that we have all the time in the world, and that we’re always where we’re supposed to be. It encourages us to remember that there is no such thing as failure as long as we’re inching towards our goal.
After reading that, I didn’t mind identifying with the turtle. After all, the turtle is also the symbol for longevity. And I’m in this gig for the long haul. So, my advice? Get your turtle on and forget about the hare. Next week, some tips for making slow and steady writing progress.