There's nothing like a good novel-writing project, to get you in the mood to write anything other than your novel.
Therefore, I'm capitalizing on this wonderful opportunity to procrastinate...er...promote National Novel Writing Month, or as it's affectionately known by devoted participants - Nanowrimo, or even more simply - Nano.
Eleven seasons ago, a group of writer-aspiring folk in San Francisco decided it would be swell to dedicate the month of November to the art and challenge of novel writing. (You can check out the full Nano story here.) The goal was to write 50,000 words in one month.
While many have debated the value of Nano - I belong to the camp that just loves it. Here are my reasons in totally random order:
1. It gets you writing. Even if you only spend one month out of the year writing, it still counts for something.
2. Anyone can do it. If you've ever had a dream to write a story, here's your chance. Nanowrimo offers a place to hang out with lots of support, and when you get your 50k of words validated, they give you cheerful paraphernalia which boasts your accomplishment.
3. It's FREE! There are lots of resources, online and off, available for writers, but they can come attached with a fee. And these fees can add up.
4. Quantity vs. Quality. Nanowrimo is all about getting in your word count, so no need to worry about writing the next best seller.
5. Your Inner Editor, Critic, Mother-in-law gets to take a vacation. See Reason #4.
6. Young Writers' Program. They support school-age children to write with their own goal and kid-friendly forums.
7. Other cool literacy awareness projects. They are really passionate about making literacy available to everyone!
8. Nanowrimo empowers, is positive, and is filled with the passion for writing.
It's not always easy, and the month can feel like a 50-year marriage smushed into one month.
The first week is all bliss, the stress mild, as you sit down each day to dutifully put in the time to get your word count.
Week 2 is riddled with doubt and anxiety and if you're going to get sick, this is usually the week it happens. You feel like chucking this ridiculous and seemingly impossible endeavor and other projects such as ironing, cleaning out the gutters, washing windows, and re-cataloging Christmas cards suddenly look a lot more appealing than that book you started out writing last week.
If you can get over this hump, then Week 3 is about accepting that - if you're in it for the long haul - than you have to do the work. You've come to terms with the all of the challenges of juggling your normally busy life with that of novel-writing, because, hey, you've only got one more week to go.
When you hit 35,000 words, a miracle happens. Suddenly, the joy for your story comes back. It feels so much easier, as you cheerfully bang out 1,500 words in fifteen minutes. You wonder how achieving that 1,667 daily word count goal seemed so hard in the beginning, but is effortless now. In other words, Baby, it's all down hill from here.
And when you hit that 50k mark, the confetti flies and it's all elation and triumph,
Granted, what you've written will probably be worse than the toddler's guide to car maintenance, but that's okay. The point is you did it. And that's all that matters.