Another first for me this year is participating in NaNoWriMo. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, where writers commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November in an attempt to have a rough draft by month’s end. On the website, www.nanowrimo.org, participants create a log-in where they can share some info about themselves and their novel (there’s even a place for a novel cover art). More importantly, it’s where aspiring novelists can log their word count for each day and get motivation from authors like Veronica Roth, who wrote the Divergent series.
For me, NaNoWriMo serves as the kick in the seat I need to actually sit down and put my ideas in some sort of coherent document. I am always on the lookout for inspiration.
The funny thing is, I read a book about NaNoWriMo a few years ago and was fascinated with the whole approach simply because it made writing a novel seem actually doable. Apparently that’s a problem for some critics of the concept, who complain it is just a bunch of amateurs cranking out crap. I agree that is true if all that a writer is concerned with is word count, but I think the idea behind it is more important than just putting some number in a website. For us aspiring writers, who like to tinker with words, but haven’t set a definite goal, NaNoWriMo can be what it takes to get our ideas written out in some fashion. Most of us realize that a great, polished piece takes much more time than a month to work out from beginning to end. And those who don’t know that, who think writing is easy peasy, well, they learn pretty quickly that it does take effort, thought and time.
At the end of November, I hope to have a lot of words written in my story, Adelaide. The idea of it has bounced around in my head for a time now, but I didn’t really have motivation to put it down on paper, let alone turn it into a novel. I’d love it if I could actually make it 50,000 words! But I am also realistic enough to believe that even if my word count reflects a “win”, it doesn’t mean I’m going to have a piece ready for submission on December 1. What I’ll have, though, is many hours practicing the craft of writing and disciplining myself to devote time to “butt in chair”. Time that I may have spent in October vegging in front of the TV, I’ll be spending in front of the computer instead this November.
The other cool thing about NaNoWriMo is, similar to what happens in the blogging community, a bunch of people rally together to support one another. Who can find fault in that? Writing can get kind of lonely, so for extroverts like me, having a group of people to reach out to makes the solitary act of writing a teeny bit more social. In fact, I can thank two of the girls on our robotics team for getting me to participate in NaNoWriMo this time around. Olivia, who also loves writing and words, asked me if I was doing it and asked me if I was going to participate. At that point I had been on the fence with the idea, but her enthusiasm was contagious. It was fun talking to her and her sister, Cecilia, last night about our word counts and what we’re doing to get rolling with our stories. Later, when we were driving home Erin asked me if she could try to write something for NaNoWriMo. Of course I said yes, because who knows if this first taste of writing gives her the writing bug. Anything that can inspire young people to try something new with their writing is definitely a positive.
If the website traffic from over the weekend is any indication, NaNoWriMo at least still knows how to generate a buzz. The website gave me an error or two and was a little slow; I’m sure it was due to people setting up their accounts and checking out the great resources. A week into this month of intense writing, I’m guessing it may die down a bit as the newness wears off—like how people are when they first start a diet or exercise program. The first days are exciting and full of promise, but when the hard work part kicks in, it’s awfully easy to get discouraged. Yes, I do include myself in that category!
So three cheers for NaNoWriMo! One cheer for being a motivating tool, another for giving writers a sense of community and a third for promoting writing to our youth. If any Dragonfly readers are participating, I’d love to hear how your story is progressing. Message me on their site. My user name is Lighthearteddragonfly.