NaNo What Now?

NaNoWriMo Shield

From Southern Spines contributor, Stacie Boschma

We are two days away from National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to the hundreds of thousands of people who sign up every year to participate in this amazing writer’s challenge. The nonprofit Office of Letters and Light took to the Internet in 1999 and has been organizing, inspiring, convincing, coercing and cajoling writers of all ages and abilities to churn out 50,000 word drafts of novels during the month of November ever since.

That’s really the whole of it – write 50,000 words of fiction in November and you win NaNoWriMo! I accomplished this daunting task in 2010, and have decided to put myself through it again this year. Why?

Because I’ve gotten a little separated from the raw creative impulse that keeps me lit up. Because in the midst of the exhaustion and chaos of the process, I had about as much fun as I ever have writing. Because I have friends who don’t even consider themselves writers who’ve found NaNo on their own and plan to give it a go – and because writers whose work captivates me will jump in with both feet for the first time this year.

I can’t think of anything more inspiring than a mass writing experience, mobilized through the NaNoWriMo website and its extremely useful user forums, that isn’t about the quality of the words, but instead is about doing the real work of writing – even on days when the words won’t come, and especially on days when you just don’t feel like it. Every writer I know is perpetually kicking a dozen ideas around for something – poems, blog posts, short stories, songs – and equally engaged in the fine art of, let’s say, “procrastinative self-doubt.”

NaNo lets you off that hook. When you’re scrambling to churn out 1,600 words a day, every day, there’s not a lot of time to worry about quality. You can’t go back and get stuck on that scene that didn’t work on page 28, because you need to be at page 55 by bedtime tomorrow. NaNo is the best excuse I know to set aside a few hours a day, every day and just keep going.

The Office of Letters and Light calls NaNoWriMo “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon,” and I’m taking that seriously this year. It’s a couple of  days before November 1, and I still don’t know what I’m going to write. That’s NaNo for you!

Are you participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Leave a comment below. Become my writing buddy at http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/tautological/ to see whether I win in 2012, or flame out spectacularly.

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