National Novel Writing Month, 2013


NaNoWriMo. This year is my year.

“The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 14)

I’ve wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month for ages. I first learned about it when I was in grad school, and there honestly just wasn’t time. I was also knee-deep in a period where I wasn’t writing creatively at all, so it wasn’t something that “fit” into my education and career goals. But I quietly placed it in my back pocket and thought about it from time to time.

“…writing a novel simply feels great. Slipping into “the zone”–that place where you become a passive conduit to a story–exercises your brain in weird, pleasant ways and just makes life a little bit more enchanted.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 18)

When I made the decision to begin writing again, and when I discovered that I could carve out some time to actually do it here and there (yay for kids who sleep all night!), I began toying with the idea of embracing NaNo. But I kept chickening out.

My best friend did it last year, and she loved it. Well, she didn’t “love” it, but she was definitely proud of the achievement. She inspired me, and I vowed then and there to try again next year… although about ten minutes after I made that vow, I began to develop some excuses–ahem, “reasons”–why I might not after all.

“A rough draft is best written in the steam-cooker of an already busy life. If you have a million things to do, adding item number 1,000,001 is not such a big deal.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 17)

I’m starting to realize that I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to writing. I really can’t help it. I’m an editor and a writing teacher by profession, so I edit and critique everything I read. Even the words I am writing myself. But editing while you write is the worst possible way to get any real writing done.

“Exuberant imperfection allows you to circumvent those limiting feelings entirely. It dictates that the best way to tackle daunting, paralysis-inducing challenges is to give yourself permission to make mistakes, and then go ahead and make them.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 33)

So, I’m going to write a crappy novel. I’m going to write at least 50,000 words of new fiction in the month of November, and I’m going to finally conquer something that I’ve been forcing myself to avoid for a long time. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll end of writing something worth a crap.

“The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 32)

But probably not. And that’s okay. Because I’m going to do something that scares me, and I think that’s a valuable experience for life, in general, and writing, in particular.

“When thinking about possible inclusions for your novel, always grab the guilty pleasures over the bran flakes. Write your joy, and good things will follow.” (No Plot? No Problem, p. 88)

So, here’s to writing your joy. And deadlines. And exuberant imperfection. Care to join me? I’m signed up and ready to go on the NaNoWriMo website.

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