This is my annual “I’m doing Nanowrimo” post. I am, like hundreds of thousands of other people on the internet, going to write a novel in a month. It’s a giant writing party on the internet and we’re all invited. You too! It’s both easier and harder than you think it will be…
I’ll be honest in saying that this might not be the best choice for me. I currently have 3 Nano drafts that I consider good enough to edit, and so far I’ve only managed to touch one and a half of them. I’ve been participating since 2011. I’m about to have a 4th draft of something I probably won’t edit for ages and ages. It seems a little silly to drop everything else and Nano for a month. But I’m compelled, you know. There can’t be a huge writing party on the internet without me. I get angsty if I don’t join in.
I don’t talk about imposter syndrome much, but there’s a reason that I’m 33 years old and I haven’t pursued writing seriously until about 4 years ago. I don’t remember where I read it, and I’m sure the thing would strike me differently if I were to read it today, but in a forward in one of my favorite books was an essay. It mentioned people who grew up in a literary environment, and how they are different from actual writers. People who grew up in a literary environment, the essay said, probably read a lot as children. Maybe there were writers in their family (there are several in mine – my grandfather’s bread and butter was covering the Celtics for the Christian Science Monitor), maybe there were lots of books around everywhere. But in any case, these people dabbled in writing, were bad at it, and didn’t have the stamina to have a writing career. These were people who liked books, sometimes scribbled things down, and left it at that. I compiled this essay in my mind together with all the writing advice that basically says “if you can help it at all, do something REAL with your life,” and I left those half-formed scribblings in my notebooks.
4 years ago, I participated in my first Nanowrimo. A bunch of my friends were doing it, and there’s nothing I like more than a silly challenge that lets me brag about things – especially things like having written a novel.
I signed up, and a flood unleashed.
By the end I knew things. I had no skills, I had nothing but a small way with words, and yet I had the HABITS of a writer. By the end of the month, that 1600 words a day was easy to crank out. I kept going after November. I signed up to minor in English so that I could get a bit more of a handle on the skill part of things. I can help it. I don’t have to write. I am a product of a literary environment. All of those things are true. But it’s also true that Nanowrimo made a writer of me. I am certain that this novel would never have been written, that the other two novels I’m dying to get my fingers into would never have been conceived, let alone exist as first drafts, had I not joined that crazy no-stakes contest in November 2011. I am now pursuing a writing career with determination.
The best part? I get to relive the magic again once a year. And that’s why, despite the fact that I’m in a terrible place to drop everything for a month, I’m going to Nano my heart out.
Consider joining us? It’s not for everyone, I admit. Brian, for instance, is driven insane by the timeline. He would rather take a week to have a perfect chapter than take a month to have the worst draft ever written. But if you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, sometimes the kamikaze way is excellent. It was excellent for me.