NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month

The idea of NaNoWriMo is attractive, as is the sentiment at the base of it.

It’s meant to teach a writer (or would-be writer) to forgo fear, to stop the self-destructive critic from interfering, and to write with abandon, regardless of quality.  It’s meant to establish a writing discipline.  It’s meant to show a writer that to be one, one has to first and foremost, write.

Write, keep writing, and don’t worry about fixing stuff; that comes later.

Like I said, I like the idea, but at the same time I don’t like the fact it’s become a competition of sorts.  And I wonder about one other thing.

I’ve been reading about people who already have a full plate (writing and otherwise), and are planning to not only continue with their day job, take care of their family obligations and other responsibilities, but to add to those responsibilities by committing to 1,667 words a day.   Perhaps it is to re-establish habits, perhaps it’s for the camaraderie, perhaps it to prove to themselves they have what it takes.

But . . . what does it take to do what?

As much as I have more “wake time” than most (I only sleep 4-5 hours a night), I also know my “wake time” is already filled.  I don’t ever sit around wondering what I could do.  I suspect it’s the same for others.   I suspect that is the case for most people, but if not, then by all means jump into NaNoWriMo.

Still, I think many participants are lured by the excitement and “newness” of the challenge.  And that lure will likely mean they are going to let their current projects slide.

I could be wrong, and I certainly I can’t speak for others.  Personally, I have stories I am working on.  I also blog.  One of my hobbies is photography.  I’m getting into a regular exercise routine, and I want to spend time with my wife.  I need to read, keep up with current events, and occasionally bathe.

Make no mistake . . . I am very confident I could finish NaNoWrimo, and finish early, but  to jump in and participate means I would have to short-change one of those other things.

But, people say, “it’s working on your craft; improving them writing muscles.”

Is it?  It’s meant to be a free-for-all of writing, yet people “train for it”, and plan out their schedules, their plots, their progress.  Aside not being in the spirit of the competition, why not apply that same energy to what one is already writing?  Improving it, shaping it, building on it?

As I said, I think in part it’s the lure of “something new”.  I know it well, and the Mighty Mur speaks of it in her podcast for writers (I Should Be Writing).   It’s not something good; it keeps you from being focused on the task/project at hand.

Mind you, this is not a castigation of those who participate . . . if it affords the chance to work on one’s craft, to learn, to push beyond boundaries, then it’s a good thing.

If it forges relationships, expands contacts, teaches you about deadlines, commitment, and does all that while getting you in the habit of writing, then it’s a great thing.

I still think planning the effort, making outlines, working on a story/plot for a number of months before it (in your head and notes – no actual writing), is not in the spirit of NaNoWriMo . . . at least what I think that spirit originally was.  At the very least, not in the spirit I think it should be.

And I still think it’s not a good thing letting other projects slide just so you can say you completed NaNoWriMo, just so you can be a part of it.

Of course, that is my opinion, and just living life has taught me my opinions don’t count for much with anyone but myself.  And yes, one day I will do it.  Probably when I am retired, and probably on my own, just to prove what I already know.  But, as I said, that’s just me.

And, for all the talking I do, I could have used this time to add to one of the projects I’m working on.  Instead, I wrote this, and commented on a blog post.  Conrad asked the question “How does weather play into your story? Is it just window dressing? Or does it have a purpose to being the way it is?

My reply was one of my tiny stories:

Moving with thousands of others made it difficult to see where they were headed.  As a mass they dipped, swirled, jostled each other . . . they had to keep moving lest the cold overtook them.

The cold . . . if exposed, it would grip them. Those caught in the fringes were lost, locked in an icy embrace as uncaring and unfeeling as the very force that propelled them.

Onward, onward, pressing, and all the while resisting the lure of stopping; of surrendering to the implacable cold.

But it was all for naught; even as they rushed toward what might be salvation, they spilled into a small valley, and were blocked off from escape.

They slowed, bitter and yet resigned to their now evident fate.  Eventually no more motion could be discerned as the cold, like a deadly breath, stilled them.

It would be months before the drops in the shallow pond, and the spring that fed it, would be free from the icy grip.

Look at that . . . almost a thousand words in less than a half hour.  Of course, there’s no quality to speak of, but it was fun.

Once again, thanks for perusing my stuff.

Message of the Ancients
Message of the Ancients


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