My apologies for the late posting this week…I have been inundated with work, and the past few days have been a marathon of writing (of the medical, technical variety). My daylight hours have been chock full of typing and paper shuffling, and last night during the time when I usually put the finishing touches on Write On Wednesday’s post, I was sleeping blissfully in my easy chair.
C’est la vie.
Speaking of marathons, there is a real writing marathon about to begin, the equivalent of the Boston 26 miler run in a chill November wind.
It’s called NaNoWriMo.
Short for “National Novel Writing Month,” it’s an internet based writing venture whose participants pledge to write 50,000 words (a 175 page novel) between November 1 and midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
In 2006 and 2007, I completed the challenge. Although I’m not a runner, I believe the experience was something akin to getting through one of those long races…the initial excitement at you start out with chapter one, the miles midway when it feels as if your heart (and head!) will burst with the effort of slogging through the daily 1667 words, the moment when your second wind kicks in with a brave new idea or direction for your story, and the final rush of adrenaline when the your word count hits 40,000 and you glimpse “the end” in sight.
What do I have to show for all that work? My “trophies” – sheafs of typed pages neatly bound in paper folders and tucked away at the bottom of my bookshelf – will probably never be read by anyone other than my grandchildren, who may run across the pages when they’re clearing my belongings out of the nursing home.
The other “trophy” – the sense of accomplishment, albeit a private one, the sense of satisfaction that, yes indeed, there was a completely evolved story residing inside my head which I was able to coherently put it on paper in the space of 30 days – well, that one I get to carry around with me forever.
Although I’m taking this year off from NaNoWriMo, I’ll be here on the sidelines cheering on all the participants as they pound the keyboard in their race to the finish line.
So, how about you? If you’ve done NaNoWriMo, what was the experience like for you? If you’ve never done it, do you think you could? Do you have a novel residing in you somewhere, waiting to get out?