Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Praise of NaNoWriMo

For writers with swift keystroke and a touch of insanity, November = National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo is a contest against yourself.  You see, a NaNoWriMo participant is considered to have "won" if s/he has written a 50,000 word novel in the course of 30 days.  (Though this wordcount is low for any published novel, in a month that includes Thanksgiving, it is a mad dash through the English language).

There are conflicting opinions on the value on NaNoWriMo, but I'm squarely in the camp that sees it as a force for good.  In my view, it is a contest against yourself and your personal (in my case, negative) inner editor.  You know the one.  It's the voice that has you rewriting your first scene so many times that eventually you become too exhausted with the story that you shelve it to finish it "later."  For me, NaNoWriMo is a campaign against perfectionism.  Published author or not, 50,000 words in 30 days will not be pretty.  It will not be polished.  It will be bare bones, a skeleton of a story.  Because it's a first draft.  Paraphrasing Anne LaMott, a "shitty first draft."  It's meant to be revised.  And as I enjoy editing (again, those perfectionistic tendencies), for me, the challenge is sketching out the bones.  NaNoWriMo provides the impetus, goal, and a community of other crazy writers online and locally who are trying to do this thing together.   

So, I love the idea of NaNoWriMo.  After years of being in school and attempting of "unofficially" do NaNoWriMo, this year I officially signed up.  And today, November 25th, I have less than 10,000 words written.  Soooo...I'm not going to win NaNoWrimo.

But that's okay.  Because I've started writing down the bones of my WIP, framing the skeleton.  I've been disciplined about my writing.  I've had fun.  And I've written.  I'm building the structure of a story, a different world.

Really, what more could you ask for?

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