NaNoWriMo is among us. For the uninitiated, that would be National Novel Writing Month. Sure, I’m a few days late recognizing this fantastical time of the year (sorry, Christmas), but I’m here now. So, as my Bronx born mother would say, Let’s tawk.
I have been aware of NaNoWriMo for several years. It was brought to my attention by a writing colleague.
“What is this NaNoWriMo you speak of?” I asked in a Lord-of-the-Rings kind of way.
“National Novel Writing Month,” she informed me. “You go online, sign up, and pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Exciting, right??”
“A novel? In 30 days? Wouldn’t it be easier to swim the Atlantic Ocean?”
“Not necessarily a novel, but just 50,000 words. If you don’t complete the book, that’s ok. You’re basically promising yourself to write everyday until you reach your goal. If a book comes out of it, that’s just icing.”
Seemed like a fairly harmless explanation.
I attempted it. By November 4th I gave up, watched too much Food Network, and drowned my guilt with rum cocktails. Then again, I always watch too much Food Network and drink rum cocktails.
NaNoWriMo really is harder than you think. You’re looking at about 2,000 words per day. Seems possible, when you say it out loud. But when you bring up that blank document and contemplate typing, you begin to remember what it was like writing those 5 page research papers in college. You start to get anxiety. You yawn once or twice. The internet become a horribly easy distraction. Oh, sure, a few kitty videos on YouTube wouldn’t hurt!
The idea, though, is to get something down. Anything. Even if it is complete and utter crap, just get it down. As Anne Lamott says in her book on writing, Bird by Bird, you will undoubtedly have a shitty first draft (her words, I swear). And let’s face it: 30 days or 30 years, your first draft will probably be shitty; no first draft goes unedited.
I’m a hypocrite, in all honesty. Here it is November 3rd and I have just under 1,500 words completed. And I’ll tell you, it’s pretty shitty (that rhymes!). Food Network and rum cocktails are calling. But I will be diligent. I will at least try.
I have several writing friends giving the challenge a try. We will all commiserate together when necessary. You can commiserate with me, if you’d like. I’m on twitter, and google plus. Come on, we can do this!
If not, point me to the nearest TV and crack open that bottle of Bacardi.