NaNoWriMo. “Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon!” thus proclaim the powers that be at the Office of Letters and Light. The goal: write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. The typical outcome for most participants: completed 0 – 50,000 words of rubbish. The not-so-typical outcome (after many revisions, I would guess): http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/publishedwrimos
Now, I know what many “real” writers think of NaNoWriMo (see such dislike in bite-sized morsels here), but I have a feeling their displeasure stems more from the gross amount of extraordinarily sub-par material NaNo creates than the spirit of the project itself. I agree that the ability to create a mess using tangled nouns and verbs does not make a person a (good) writer; rather, a (good) writer has the ability to weave those nouns and verbs into a unique, engrossing story.
I liken NaNoWriMo to the show American Idol. I’ve only seen it a few times and most of the vocal styling made my ears bleed. Horrendous. Sometimes there would be a person who, with some singing lessons and much practice, could pass as a singer. Every now and then, a person would walk on the stage, begin to sing, and you immediately sensed the potential for greatness. You heard it cry out through their voice and you felt it in their passion for singing.
Regardless of their vocal abilities, I give kudos to all who put it out there for the world to witness. I salute those who dare to pursue their dreams. It’s fucking fantastic. Period. My sentiments include everyone who attempts to pound out that novel during NaNo and live out their childhood dream of becoming a novelist. NaNo encourages people to step out of their comfort zones for one month and dare to be someone else– dare to be that writer you saw staring back at you in the mirror when you were eight years old. Ignore the naysayers and embrace your desire to create a story, I say.
I think NaNo is an amusing way to tinker away those cooler November nights. Put the kids to bed, brew a pot of coffee or uncork a bottle of Cabernet, and sink into another world instead of staring slack-jawed at television. Connect with other people on the other side of the world and share your frustration with plot holes. Do something different with your life.
I’ve (half-heartedly) participated twice before and came far, far short of the 50,000 word goal. I find I get bogged down in choosing descriptive nouns and verbs and correcting passive sentences and spelling errors. My desire to get it right the first time (impossible, I know) gets in my way and I don’t end up finishing the story. I drive myself crazy with it.
Should I decide to participate this year, my ultimate goal will not be the 50,000 word count. My primary goal will be to cultivate an ability to let go of my desire to constantly edit. I want my creativity to flow freely. I want to see what I am truly capable of accomplishing if I don’t get in my own way.
Lately, I’ve been lax in… well, everything. I need to get back on track. I need to plant my butt in the chair and tappity tap tap tap on the keyboard.
Maybe a little NaNo is just what I need.