new or aspiring writers, November is more than just a gloomy grey month which
we try to make better with copious amounts of pie and ice cream. November is
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I must admit when I first heard
about this, I thought it was nuts. The idea of pounding out a novel in one
month seemed ridiculous. Like many of NaNoWriMo’s critics, I thought it sounded
a great way to produce fifty thousand words of which forty thousand would later
need to be trashed.
was just jealous of the people who had an entire month to spend on their
writing. Maybe at the time I was jealous of anyone who could complete a novel
in any amount of time. At any rate, where I stand now, I think NaNoWriMo is a
little less crazy than I originally believed. After all, my own rough draft of
my first book took only a little more than a summer. The project I’m working on
now I started in mid-September and have written over a hundred pages of
already. And if James Patterson writes even half the books his name gets put on
in a year, he’s churning out a book every other week. Is it really that insane
to think that a dedicated writer could complete a novel in a month? Not really. More importantly, that’s not the point.
come to realize about NaNoWriMo, as I’ve read online and spoke with authors who
have participated, is that it isn’t about producing the world’s greatest book
in a month, although I’m sure many hope that happens, if not in November, than
in the months of editing and revision following. It’s more about making a
pledge to pursue a passion. It’s making a promise to yourself that you won’t
push aside your dream every time you come home tired or smell the dirty laundry
piling up. (That’s what power naps and Fabreeze are for.)
sent me a link to an article not long ago that basically espoused doing what
NaNoWriMo writers vow to do: show up. Every day for a month, they find the time
to write. They show up, whether they have their A-game or not. Sure, what
they’ve produced at the end of the month may need additional months of editing
and revision, but a draft, even a crappy draft, is one step further than they’d
be if they didn’t pound out the pages. And the act of writing a novel certainly
helps improve writing skills. I tell my students all the time that if they want
to be better writers or readers, then they need to read and write more. If you
want to write a book, you have to write––frequently and abundantly.
sure setting the goal of completing a novel in a month is the type of thing
that would work for me. It sounds a bit too much like, “I want to lose twenty
pounds before Christmas,” in other words, an unrealistic fantasy that would
leave me frustrated with my failure and still unable to wear skinny jeans. A
pledge to come to the keyboard, or in my case notebook, everyday, however,
sounds doable. Not a day goes by when some story, blog idea, or pithy little
commentary doesn’t cross my mind. But far too many go by when I never take the
ten minutes I’d need to write them down.
November I’m creating my own NaNoWriMo: Nap No, Write Mo’. Be it blogging, book
reviewing, drafting, or revising, I’m pledging to show up, at least ten minutes
each day, to do what I love. Not promoting, tweeting, or status updating, but
actually writing. I’ll keep myself honest with a weekly check-in; you can keep
me honest by making sure I actually post it! And you can keep yourselves honest
by picking your own poison, I mean, passion, and making your own pledge not to
push it aside.
December first I hope we all have more to report than just how many slices of
pie we ate!