Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My First NaNoWriMo Experience

This November I decided to take part in a great experiment: Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. This event is online and creates a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Nanowrimo encourages writers to kill their inner-editor and just get the words on the page. Writing is usually very lonely business, you toil away alone in a room, Nanowrimo lets authors morally support each other, be aware that others are writing with them, and even allows for a little friendly competition. If you are an aspiring writer, I really recommend that you participate in this event.

Nanowrimo is not the experiment, in and of itself. I refer to this November as an experiment because I am not a writer. Many of you may say, that can't be right as I write a blog. Many people write, but not all people that write are writers. At least, not in my book. To me a writer is someone that has a passion for story telling, someone that wishes to make their living writing. This writing can be fiction or non-fiction, they can be a poet, a novelist, a journalist, or a freelance writer, but is must be an identifying part of their personality and character. My husband is one such individual, as are several of my other friends, to call myself a writer would be an insult to them.

I joined Nanowrimo primarily to gain insight into my husband's writing world, to understand the pressures and challenges he faces when it looks as if he is doing nothing but staring blankly into space or mindlessly watching TV. I can tell you, after 30 days of writing, he is not doing nothing, neither is any other writer when they appear to be lazing about. I wanted to bond with my spouse over the writing experience and challenge myself mentally. I only vaguely had an idea of what I wished to write, this likely added to the challenge of putting 50,000 words on paper. I just had a few pieces of a story that repeatedly and randomly would pop into my head in dreams or as I lay trying to sleep. I am proud to say that despite having a long term anxiety about writing, I was able to expand on my kernels of story and complete the 50,000 word challenge. I even finished a day early, which turned out to be very fortunate as our internet crashed on the last day. I am sad to say that I wasn't able to wrap up the whole story in 50,000 words, but I completed the challenge.

Nanowrimo is well planned. 50,000 words divides up to be 1667 words a day. This is a manageable amount even for people that work full time (I should know, I work full time.). There were days when the words came easy, some days they came hard, and some days when they didn't come at all. They offer forums, fun stuff to do when you are stuck, and activities to help you overcome writers block. They also have weekly pep talks from successful authors. Neil Gaiman has written one, authors this year that offered up a pep talk included Lemony Snicket and Mercedes Lackey. Even if you are not a writer,  you might enjoy some of your favorite writers' outlooks on their craft. One of the things I like about Nanowrimo is that the donations they ask for support a Young Writer's Program that is offered to all for free. It's all about getting kids to write and interact with the written word whether on paper or the internet.

I doubt I will participate next year, I don't really have another story to tell. I did enjoy the experience this year, and learned quite a lot about myself and the art of writing. As for the story I wrote this year, I pretending it doesn't exist for a month. After that time, I will deign to reread it, then I will decide if I will work on it some more or erase it for eternity. I may post it here as a serial story, or I may not. It's fate remains in the ether.

Congratulations to all those that won Nanowrimo, especially Don and John. And to those that didn't quite make it, if writing is your passion, don't give up.


The Slender Man said...

I'm happy you finished! It was a hell of an ordeal, but well worth it. Don and I talked about the fact that the self discipline was worth the effort. Now if I could only adhere to the same rigorous schedule when writing my "legitimate" work.

Harpy Queen said...

Yeah, maintaining that kind of self-discipline is much different than doing it for 30 days.