November 7, 2010 by Darlene McC
As a kid I never dreamed of being a writer. I loved to read, but I thought writers were mysterious, overly-educated geniuses who could unlock the mysteries of sentence structure in ways I would never understand. I believed that every novelist was a literary-Einstein and the concept of joining their ranks was laughable – I just didn’t think I was “smart enough”.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t write. I had the 1999 equivalent of a blog (a web ‘zine) that the end of Geocities has (un)fortunately removed from the interwebs forever. Little did I know what 2009 would hold:
Last year a friend and I were chatting over wine about how much we used to revel in creative writing exercises in Jr High English and bemoaning the lack of them in our mid-20’s. So we started to exchange them – each week we passed two or three assignments and their products back and forth and each of us began to craft a portfolio of creative work we were proud of; and my confidence grew. My assumptions about the difficulty of the act of writing and the strength of my own abilities began to fade…and I decided to write a novelle.
Soon after this I discovered NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month’s annual celebration of the written word by encouraging would-be and current writers to craft a 50,000 word creation in the month of November. One of the primary commandments of NaNoWriMo is to just sit down and write every day; another the mantra that ‘Editing is for December’: both encouraging you to just sit down and bang the words out. Through this simple act of just sitting and writing you come to know that you ARE a writer – that someone else doesn’t get to tell you that you are one.
One of the rules of NaNoWriMo is you work on something new and you have to start November 1st; so the book I was already working on was out. I tried to write two projects at the same time and I’m sorry to say that last year I failed at NaNoWriMo – I opted to focus that energy on the book I was already writing instead of splitting focus. But the lessons I learned last Novemer are still the same:
- If you write something you ARE a writer.
- Make yourself do it; even when you “dont” want to, you want to.
- Even if NO ONE ever reads it, you still wrote it.
- Writing gives a sense of accomplishment that few other things in my life have ever given me.
NaNoWriMo is, at its core, GOOD for you! And not in the way that health magazine’s tell you avocados are good for you – you don’t have to wait to lose the 10 lbs and skip the chocolate cake to reap the benefits. NaNoWriMo builds confidence, vocabulary, and a sense of community with other writers.
My hat is in the ring. I’m going to do it this year; I’m not quitting and I’m working on a story I love and have every intention of sharing with the world as the sequel to my first novel.
Oh, a final thought about why it’s good for you: NaNoWriMo is an on-your-honor personal challenge. No one checks your work and no one’s grading you. If you’ve never written more than a 10-page paper in your life, challenge yourself to a 15,000 word short story titled “If Fuzzy The Cat Could Talk” and call yourself a writer; you’re doing it for yourself, after all…. just promise yourself that next year you’re doing it all the way.