Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NaNoWriMo November

It's called NaNoWriMo. Have you heard of it? Practitioners call it, "na-no-rye-mo". (And no, the keys on my PC didn't get stuck. That's really what it's called.)

It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a kind of contest or personal challenge.

The idea is simple: write an entire novel in one month. Whoever succeeds receives a badge and a heightened sense of accomplishment, which is a very huge thing to get when most of your writing projects take years to finish—if they ever get finished—and end up as dust collectors anyway, never to be published nor even read by anyone, and forgotten, while you trudge on to the next novel, which will also likely end up as a dust collector.

I don't care who you are, even Howard Roark; that's a depressing scenario.

The novel you write for the contest doesn't have to be good. In fact, it can be awful. You just have to write through to the end. To meet its intended purpose, I suppose you'd have to set forth at least a rudimentary plot and write to it. But the prose can be too wretched to show your dog.

A mere year or two ago, I would have scoffed at NaNoWriMo. Today I appreciate it and would heartily recommend it to some would-be writers I know.

I'm not going to do it, because I'm getting along okay with my current novel, and as depressing as the aforementioned dust-collecting scenario may be, I'm sufficiently determined to keep plowing forward anyway. (My partner calls it stubbornness, among other things.)

Do you know what habit or skill the NaNoWriMo is attempting to inculcate? I do. It's a lesson I've had to learn the hard way. Here's an excerpt from NaNoWriMo's website:

At a dinner reception for a writing conference, [NaNoWriMo's founder] was stopped by a fellow presenter.... "You saved me," she said. It turns out she was a writer who'd published her stories in the New Yorker when she was younger. But as the pressure mounted, she became too self-critical to write. NaNoWriMo had made creating stories fun again, and she was at the conference to talk about a new collection of her work that had just been published.

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