It’s that time of year again, when there’s lots of buzz about the upcoming NaNoWriMo event. If you’re a writer, or a wannabe writer who hasn’t heard of it, National Novel Writing Month happens every November. It an oft-misunderstood event by those who have never done it and a cherished experience by those who have.
The obvious goal of NaNoWriMo is what it takes to win – write 50,000 words in one month. Winning, though, means getting a certificate that says you did it and as great as the feeling that comes from receiving it, the small size of this token of “winning” should underscore the importance and value of this aspect of NaNoWriMo. If “winning” on this level were the only goal, you could copy the first 50,000 words from a dictionary and submit it. You would “win” but that’s hardly the point.
What is the point is skills acquisition – a specific skill. Fiction writers need talent and imagination. Writers need to understand grammar, and other writerly stuff. But a person with perfect grammar and great imagination can never complete a novel without one other skill, a skill that most wannabe writers lack. It’s the ability to put your butt in the chair to write on a regular basis.
We all mean well. We plan, we think, we “have the story in our head.” But we also have excuses for why it doesn’t get written. Our “muse” isn’t cooperating. We’re too busy. Some even use “I’m such a procrastinator” as though this were some genetic disposition that explains it all. The excuses don’t matter. In the end, most well-intentioned people never complete even a first draft of a novel.
The truth is, writing regularly, and with purpose is an acquired skill, just like any other. It must be acquired and doing it alone is difficult. It must become a habit. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in. Starting November 1st, tens of thousands of writers, like yourself, will launch themselves into an intense writing month, requiring a word production of 1667 words per day if you want to meet the 50k goal by November 31st. Support is provided in many forms and with so many people in the same boat, doing the same thing, it is easier somehow. NaNoWriMo lets you experience being a productive writer and, if you perservere, it will cause you to get that story that’s “in your head” down on paper. It won’t be a polished novel at that point but it can be with some subsequent effort on your part. Once the draft is written, the rest is much easier. Many NaNoWriMo novels have been published and many more will be. Maybe yours.
Sign up for NaNoWriMo. It’s free, it’s fun. And add me to your buddy list. My NaNo name is larrym.
Cheers — Larry