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NaCreWriMo: National Creative Writing Month

My Alternative Challenge to NanoWriMo, OR, NanoWriMofor Wimps

A couple of my adoring fans (i.e., friends on facebook who have been very supportive of my attempts at becoming a writer. I’m looking at you Kit and Adam!) have asked me if I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. The answer is, unfortunately, no. I will explain the reason why I am not “officially” participating later in this post. However, I wholeheartedly encourage people to give it a go!

I love NanoWriMo. I think it’s a great idea, a great challenge, and gives people a great opportunity who’ve always wanted to take a crack at that novel that’s been brewing inside of them. Personally, I respond well to tangible goals, especially ones with deadlines that are sooner rather than later. Which explains why I tend towards “project management” in my professional career. I do best when I can conclude something within 1-3 months.

I liken this to being a natural sprinter. In high school, I was much like Gimli the dwarf, “wasted on cross country.” I never lettered on the cross-country team, but I was on the varsity track team for six years, because I started out as a sprinter in seventh grade. I like to be able to see the finish line and know once I get there, I’m done. If you’re a distance runner, once you get to the finish line, you have to go around the track at least three more times. Oof.

I’m a bit of a Mindy Kaling in that I always seem to be musing about whether “everyone else is hanging out without me.” (I guess the two previous metaphors make me a female Indian Dwarf with no stamina and social anxiety disorder. I’m ok with that). I have such a strong pack-mentality. If I were a lemming, my genes would definitely not be passed down to future generations, because I would be too excited by my meetup-group’s excursion in cliff-diving outing next weekend. I know that makes me a bit of a “sheeple,” but I tend to become excited by whatever is exciting a critical mass of people. Hence, when I woke up yesterday morning and saw everyone groaning in their facebook status about how eeking out 1600+ words was about as fun as giving birth to a cheese grater, I was immediately jealous.

The jealousy wasn’t really founded in anything realistic. If I had another 50,000 words to go in this novel, signing up for NanoWriMo would make sense. But I don’t really. I decided to try NanoWriMo last year, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. In October I was chugging through the thickest part of my novel, and Nano gave me the opportunity to just pump out 50,000 words and give it my book some meaty substance. I now only have another couple of chapters to write from scratch, and otherwise I just need to revise the parts I’ve already written. (excuse me while I take a moment to pump my fist into the air victoriously! Okay, I’m done).  I now need to take the words I wrote in a hasty mad-dash finish to the Nano finish line and make them readable and coherent.

Even though I am not doing Nano this year, I can say with full confidence to anyone who is considering it that it’s definitely worth a try. Last year, Nano made me just stop all the procrastinating/excusing that happens when you’re afraid to take a stab at doing something you really want and just sit down and did it. There’s something about focusing on quantity over quality that actually helps you get stuff done, especially if any of the following are true for you:

–       You have a lengthy novel or script you just need to pound out

–       You have an idea for a novel, but you just can’t seem to bring yourself to start it

–        You’re pretty sure you could write a book that’s better than Twilight, even if you simultaneously started initiated an addiction to speedballs at the same time.

–        You never seem to have enough free time to sit down and write that novel

(hint: you probably never will have enough time. You would have to give up going out, working out, drinking, dating, and cricket practice to clear your schedule enough to write a novel in anything under a year. And if you work 40 hours a week, taking all the fun out of your life to write a novel will most likely make you cranky and no fun to be around. And then, when you have your novel launch party, all the friends you alienated while writing won’t show up. Poo.)

–        You’ve never written a short story, poem or book. Virgins do it better.

However, I still want to be a part of the Nano fun. I hate November, except for the part where I get to binge on turkey and pie, so having a project to work on until I can the Christmas glee is upon us would be ideal. I also loved how last year Nano started a creativity vortex spinning in my brain last year. I felt really confident about my ability to produce meaningful art and to hunker down and work. This led to an overall boost in my self-esteem and outlook on the world that is similar to the inexplicably grandiose sense of self that comes from working out regularly. Granted, I had a hard time forming words with my mouth and conversing with friends and family over the thanksgiving dinner table by that time, but eh, those guys have to love me no matter how awkward or artistically spastic I get.

So I’ve decided to come up with my own Nano challenge. Although I am not in the “producing” stage of writing my novel, I do want to be more productive writing in general. This means I need to spread my energy across a few different projects, such as:

Journaling

speaking my truth in a medium that is safely tucked away from the general public

Blogging

I approach blogging more like essay writing. I want to try to keep it going as a public venue for my writing voice. It’s like an dating profile for my writing. Hopefully a few people will fall in love with it, take it out for a nice dinner and one day and marry it.

Writing my Novel

Novel with a capital N. Still got to chug away at this big lug and get ‘er done. Have you ever asked someone how their dissertation is going when they’re only halfway done with it? I did this to my friend Meredith who replied, and I quote, “UGGGGGGHHHHHHH my disertayyyyyyyy-tionnnnnnnn.” That’s kind of how I feel about my novel.

Writing Project B

I’ve been in the throws of conception (ooh that sounds sexy) for another novel/short story that I’ve been thinking about writing since I moved home and inevitably clashed with the culture I grew up in. I think I’m just going to start writing it and see what it turns into. I didn’t want to do this at first because I didn’t want to start another novel until I finished my first one, but MY MUSE IS A BEAST THAT CAN’T BE TAMED! It’s like a wolverine. Or a very ornery cat.

So I am now imposing on myself the goal of writing 50,000 creative words by the end of November, or 1,667 words a day, in any of the above formats. If you’re too chicken to go for the 50k words of a novel but want to boost your creativity, I hereby challenge you to design your own November of Creativity. Write anything! Poems, blog posts, political commentary, song lyrics, hate letters to all of your exes, it’s all good. Just write!

I’m going to try to tally my words in each category listed above and post it daily on my blog. Anyone wanna join me? Who’s in?!

Here's to under-achieving!

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