Ah the cursed arrival of the fall season is here and I utterly despise it. Nothing puts me in a more foul mood than watching the trees turn beautiful shades of orange and red, and then die right before my eyes. And once October is over, November rushes in with colder temps and a promise of at least 5 more months of this wretched weather.
But let us focus on a tiny little bright spot; November also brings National Novel Writing Month and for those of you who love to write, love sitting inside, or just love being anti-social, it works out perfectly. Who really has anything important to do in November other than Thanksgiving? From November 1st to November 30th, your job is simply to write a novel. No one is telling you what it has to be about or how good it has to be or how clean your dialog must be, you simply have to write a novel.
For several years now I’ve watched NaNoWriMo come and go and thought “I should do that” but there’s one thing that always holds me back: I’m convinced I can’t write a novel. I’ve started one but got lost in my plot and gave up. I’ve written several very silly short stories to amuse friends but never actually tried to write something of any real substance in such a short time. The creator of NaNoWriMo says that the very thing that makes this process work is very simple, you have a deadline. 30 days to write 50,000 words isn’t exactly a cakewalk, that’s 1,667 words per day and while I know for a fact I can crank out a blog post that rivals that in an hour, that’s me spewing my opinion and not trying to tell a story about… ? But the deadline is what makes it possible. You have a rather frantic sense of needing to be done by a certain date and it helps motivate your writing, or so the belief goes.
And thus, I have committed to NaNoWriMo this year. At the very least, I’m going to start a novel and that’s a step above and beyond every other year which in itself is an accomplishment. I’ve purchased the “No Plot, No Problem” book written by the NaNoWriMo creator and have been pouring over it feverishly for the past couple days in hopes that he will tell me something that will quell my fear. Guess what? He did.
I’m a perfectionist who is never perfect. It’s a curse really. Some things in my life must be clean, straightforward, exact, and then the rest of my life is a jumbled up mess. I strive for perfection only to fail miserably which always leads me to not want to try whatever that was ever again. But here’s the key to NaNoWriMo: you’re just writing a rough draft. This is the kind of manuscript that Stephen King urges you to write and then throw in a drawer and forget for 6 months. If you’ve read his book “On Writing” you know that he feels the most important part is getting the story out onto the paper in whatever form you can and worry about the plot holes and character flaws and all the other little bobbles, AFTER you’ve written it. You set it aside, let the story ferment, then come back and see if it’s worth another draft.
To steal a quote from the book, Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying “The first draft of anything is shit”. Let those words ring in your ears as you write!
And thus, I’m heading into NaNoWriMo knowing that whatever I produce will undoubtedly be utter crap and I fully expect it to be. In fact, I want it to be! After all, it’s just a rough draft and my only goal is to hit 50,000 words in 30 days. That, I’m positive I can do.
I hope you join me in this quest, it’s gonna be a blast.