Well, it’s November once again, which can only mean one thing… it’s time for NaNoWriMo!
I first heard about National Novel Writing Month when I was a freshman in college, back in 2005. Up until that point, I had only ever written fanfiction. I mean, some truly epic-length fanfiction, but nothing original, nothing that I could totally call my own. And, you know, since it wasn’t enough of a challenge to be in my first semester of college and double majoring in the two most reading and writing intensive majors in the world, I thought… hey, why not give it a try?
So I did.
And became obsessed.
Obsessed with the idea of writing every single day, of having a reasonable goal, of being distracted from my homesickness, of crafting a story from the ground up, and, um, feeling like an evil genius as I put my characters through hell. I hit the 50,000 word mark on the plane flight home for Thanksgiving… and promptly realized that I was nowhere near done. All in all, that first novel ended up being close to 150,000 words.
It also went nowhere. It lives forever on my hard drive as a happy memory that will forever stay buried because, believe me, it was the very definition of hot, cliched mess. Did that stop me from trying to query it and loving it down to its weak little bones and bloated plot? Of course not. I learned so much from working on that book, the most important thing being I loved writing and I never, ever wanted to stop.
I will say that, when you’re under contract and writing to meet deadlines, some of the magic and love for the process gets dulled under the stress. I always think about that first NaNo experience and how sparkling and warm and wonderful was, and I’m constantly trying to capture the feeling of endless possibilities that came with it. Every year since I’ve wanted to participate but haven’t been able to due to—you guessed it—deadlines and revisions.
But not this year! This year, for the first time in ages, NaNo falls over a period that I get to draft something new, and I can already feel that crazy amazing NaNo energy flowing through me. It makes me feel nostalgic and more than a little in love with the process again—that magic of discovery that comes when you challenge yourself over a short period of time. Writing can be so solitary that it’s nice to get the sense that we’re all in this together, and we’re there to encourage and support and cheer for each other as we inch closer to the 50k line. See, I have written whole drafts–or at least more than 50k in a month—but that human element, the way we come together and celebrate writing and what we can do if we try, that’s always been missing.
Are you guys participating this year? If so, be sure to check out Susan’s rockin’ printables—and follow her on Twitter to participate in word sprints if you (like me!) can always use a little kick in the pants.