I feel so negligent for not having posted anything in two weeks. Damnit, two weeks? Really? Gah, well, if you follow me, I apologize for being the horrid blog slacker that I am/was. It’s not to say I haven’t been writing, for I have. I’ve just scrambling to prepare for NanoWriMo and make some major revisions to some previous chapters that I’m changing content to accommodate new plot designs. Blah, blah, been there, done that.
So, I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo and -as usual- I’m pretty excited to be participating again this year. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, then -please- let me explain. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writers Month. The purpose is encourage people to write a 50,000 page novel within the month of November. Now, if you’re a good writer, this is not too great a challenge at all. Most writers try for 1500-2000 words a day, so that makes the 50k goal pretty standard fare. I unfortunately cannot count myself amongst those ranks, so the challenge is still present for me. I think it’s an incredibly good tool for budding authors because it teaches you a number of impactful truths or lessons along the way.
1. You have to want it. Those writers that do 1500-2000 words a day are disciplined, devoted craftsman. The first lesson of NaNoWriMo is that if you want to be a writer, if you want to create something like a book then you have to really want it. Make no mistake, 50,000 words in a month is not easy, not buy a long shot. Participating in this challenge will inform you whether or not you have the discipline and tenacity to write for living (or at least to publish in a reasonable amount of time). I have written for the last twenty years or so, but I’d never really written until my first NaNoWriMo. My wife challenged me to participate and I learned that month how important it was and how joyful I felt (usually) when I could get the words out of my noggin and onto the screen. I found confidence that I could do this.
2. You learn how to juggle. Not literally, of course, but you do have to learn how to write while also being a successful professional in the workplace, a parent and a partner, and all the requisite duties that go along with that. If you have all day to write, then 50,000 words is a bit easier; if you have to cram it in between working, spending time with family and friends, and keeping up your home, then the task is a bit more strenuous. That’s why I always schedule a few days off in November, aside from Turkey Day, as devoted Writing Days. It’s a cheat, but one I feel no shame for. This is of course tied to the first point, but it’s an art all of its own. Passion and devotion mean nothing if you can’t handle the balancing act to focus that energy.
3. It’s a Mental Jackhammer. Like i said, my wife challenged me to participate in 2012. Prior to that, I’d write here or there, but never much and never with any true direction. The few times I tried to stick it out, something or someone would always squat in the middle of the tracks and I’d get derailed. Writer’s Block wasn’t something that I occasionally visited, it was the zip code I once lived in. NaNoWriMo smashed right through that.
Say that you’re pounding out the next great novel and you just keep battering against your own internal editor. Ideas come to you, but you discard those ideas because you just let your brain get between you and the pen/keyboard/crayon. Self-editing is hard to indulge when you’ve got a massive word count looming over you. You tend to toss those inner editors out the window and just let the words stream from you. Sure, some of it may be crap and you might spend more time later on editing and redrafting, but it is still a great way to just write.
Alternately, maybe you’ve reach a point in your novel where you can’t see the next point to move towards. NaNoWriMo can give you a nice lateral shift to create something new, to re-ignite your literary engine and start moving forward again, even if it is on something different. This might be me, but I find the best way to get past a block on what I’m writing when I can’t write it anymore is to write something different. I always find that a week down the line, whatever roadblock I had experienced is gone. I hate construction on the highway, but the only way to get to where I’m going is to take a different route. Same thing for writing.
4. Writing Needs YOU!! NaNoWriMo is a great event and the Office of Letters and Lights are a great non-profit organization. We’re facing a crisis in the United States concerning education. I’m not going to get overly political, but we’re devaluing education and intelligence and fostering the lowest common denominator. We need a boost and children need that boost most of all. NaNoWriMo regularly has initiatives to support children in learning not only have to write, but to express themselves in something more than 144 characters and hate speech on XBOX Live. Literate, expressive children grow into literate, expressive, convincing adults. Articulating your point is the first step to convincing others of your ideas. Anything that can help that become a reality is a great, amazing, fantastic, absolutely f***ing essential thing. I’m proud to support it every year. If you’d also like to support it, go here.
5. It’s fun. Writing should be fun. For all the stress or ‘winning’, the true award is just writing. Nothing else matters that much and I feel so incredible every December 1st when i can look at my word count and fist-pump to my success. Ultimately, I just want to keep my passion for writing fun and exciting. NaNo is a great way to do that.
So, if you’ve you’ve never participated, then I encourage you to do so, especially if you’re just starting your career (like myself). It is invaluable experience and you will not regret it. Shoot me a message on WordPress or at SeanB71 on the NaNoWriMo site and we can have some good natured word count contests. I’ll be posting my word count in my Twitter feed every day or so and will have a widget for NaNo over on the right.
To close, I’d like to share a shiny with everyone, especially those of you with a steamy-punky bent to you. The wife and I were at the local bookstore and mine eyes did happen to fall upon a most interesting sight:
I’ve not purchased it yet, but it’s definitely on my must-have purchase and XMAS present lists. It seems such a wonderful resource, especially for writing centered in the Victorian era. I’m sure there are some equally wonderful resources out there, but I simply wanted to share this one. I’ll make sure to share it’s victories and vices on the blog, once I’ve had a chance to read it.
And with that, I shall part until October 31st, wherein I kick off NaNo. Perhaps see some of you there!