There are traditionally two ways to write….(at least so say those who have been writing for a while). The first way to write is to outline and plan. Without getting into all of the details, this is basically where you plan everything before you write all that good stuff you want to write.
The second way of writing is to listen to the Muse, for lack of a better phrasing. You just ride the natural creative roller coaster on the track that it has laid for you, and go with it. You listen to what the characters are saying and to the story that they tell you. Some people believe in it and others think it’s a complete load of horse hockey, but others totally swear by it.
These two ways are followed amateurs as well as professionals, and the best part about all of it is there’s no right answer.
Where am I going with this?
In about one week’s time writers around the nation (as well as parts of the world) will kick off National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo (pronounced NA-NOE-RYE-MOE). It’s a challenge to get 50,000 words down in 30 days. Doable. Certainly doable. I enjoy this challenge and it’s one I’ve participated in four times and am considering a fifth go.
For the beginning writing this is a fairly tall order. It’s nothing to balk at, and nothing that the verbally faint of heart really would go after, but it’s not something that just a few people can do. Year after year, people from around the world (young and old, novice to experienced, aspiring novelist to professional screen writer) come in flocks to get their words down on the digital page.
The facts and figures of it all come down to making sure that you average somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 words a day. For the newbie, that’s a crap ton, but for the professional writer, this is negligible. However, most participants in the challenge are not in either extreme. That is to say that it’s not just sitting there for most people to be at either end of these sides (total novice, writing professional). NaNoWriMo is built on quantity, not quality. It’s designed for the writing to actually get down all of the words that she said she was going to in a given amount of time.
What’s the point?
The hardest part of writing for many is getting the words down. If you’re a writing, you know what I mean. Easier said than done could probably be a motto that is best used here. Why? Well, for many of us, we like to call ourselves ‘writers’ when we don’t really write anything. Let’s face it; it sounds good. So, we’ll talk about writing, listen to podcasts about writing, read about writing., all the things that allow us to feel like we’re writing, except actual writing.
We’ve seen, heard, read, even advised others of this trite motto, but how often have we followed it ourselves? Writing is so paradoxical in many ways. I won’t name them all here (mainly because I don’t know them all), but one of the biggest paradoxes lies in how difficult writing is (one of the reasons we want to do it) because of how easy it is to do it – just sit the f*** down and write.
We love our distractions too much. Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, maybe some Reddit in there, or OOH, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Mental Masturbation, as a former community of mine used to refer to it. It’s true. We would rather be distracted and talk about being what we’re not, than doing what we should do and not be distracted. We would rather play than work, is really what it comes down to.
Writing a novel (even writing some short stories) are harder than they seem, especially knowing that we actually have to work at them. They’re big projects that can only be achieved one letter, one word, one sentence, etc., at a time.
NaNoWriMo is a way for us to get our work done (with high output/productivity) in a short amount of time.
Back to the Topic
Yes, NaNoWriMo. <<ahem>> It’s a blast. Sign-up is free, profile/book/friends/community creation is free, and ….. yeah, everything is free! It’s just a place to go and write. So, the only hard work you have to do is all the bullshit writing that you say you do and NEVER do. We’re giving you one month, ONE SINGLE SOLITARY MONTH. Grab some coffee, some Skittles, or whatever other BS writing food you like to eat but never eat while writing, and come join us. Let’s see if you got what it takes, but really.