NaNoWriMo, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . . (1, Browning, Elizabeth Barrett).”
Hello, and welcome to my blog, and my first ever blog post! If you want to know more about me (and I hope you do!), check out my author biography. (I’d honored if you’d do so.)
All right! Let’s get right to it, shall we?
I’m a writer because of National Novel Writing Month.
First— before I get to that—a little history. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), for those unfamiliar with it, is a timed writing event run by a nonprofit organization that helps, nurtures, supports, and encourages young writers through their Young Writers Program (YWP). NaNoWriMo was started in 1999 by Chris Baty. As Chris says, he and a group of friends, “. . . the twenty-one of us who signed up . . . (8),” participated in the challenge that first year. As the event has grown in popularity, it has become a worldwide phenomenon. Participants range from K-12 students, and according to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program webpage, it does so with “Common Core-aligned K-12 lesson plans,” to participants from across the globe.
Got an internet connection (or not)? Got a pen (or pencil) and paper (or a computer or other electronic device), creativity and imagination? Then you can participate in National Novel Writing Month! The event helps overcome the inertia that is generated for a task like this, given all the requirements and demands of daily life that lead to the sentiment of, as Chris Baty states, “ . . . “One day I’d really like to write a novel.“ The problem is that that day never comes (29).” Well, that day is here! (For those that choose to participate in the event, anyway.)
The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel—from scratch!—in 30 days; November is the traditional month that the event is held in, but as NaNoWriMo has grown in popularity, the event is now year around, so involvement in the event can occur in any month of the year that a person would like. Wrimo’s, the affectionate term given to participants who choose to become involved in this endeavor, either choose to write a novel, go their own way and write other things besides novels, or continue to work on whatever project they’re in the midst of at the moment. Participation in NaNoWriMo is like a roller-coaster ride, in the front car! It’s a strap yourselves in, hold on for dear life, and an epic write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants endeavor (some may say escapade).
It’s a journey into unknown that will test your resolve, your endurance, your discipline, the essence of who you are, and reveal your true self to you. I also liken it to the literary equivalent of those commercials for Monster Truck events: November! November! November! Are you ready for an extreme writers challenge! See novelists tackle the Herculean task to pen 1,667 words—or more—a day for 30 straight days! Watch as they face the writing doldrums of week 2! See writers test their mettle against the dreaded deadline! It’s going to be AWESOME! Be there.
For me, as long as someone gets some words on the page, I’m good. As long as a person is hard at work on their novel, or some other written work, they’re a winner; and even if said person only writes one single, solitary word, that’s one more word than they had written before they started the event. In writing that word, or however many total words a person ends up with, Wrimo’s get a little taste, a glimpse, of what it’s like to be a writer, and to write, all of which, for me, is a good thing, and makes that person a winner in my book. (They can always come back to what they wrote later, or may use what they have learned and taken away from the experience, in life, or on any future projects they may pen.)
This may whet their appetite for more, as it did for me. My process, and approach to the craft of the written word (in part anyway) is: get words on the page. (I fine tune and finesse it later, once I’m done with the project.) This is, in part, due to the nature of NaNoWriMo, which forces you to write 1,667 words a day (more if you’re behind, less if you’re ahead) to meet the 50,000 word count goal by the end of the month.
Second, a little personal history. As I said at the start of this blog post, because of NaNoWriMo, I’m a writer. Oh, the dots were all there, all along, as they waited patient as can be (they’re patient souls, er, dots) for me to connect them, or even just notice them . . . but I just didn’t see them. I’ve written on and off my entire life, but I was unaware of my interest in the craft of the written word as more than an activity that I did now and then when the mood struck me to do so; until NaNoWriMo sparked that interest in writing, that is.
This spark caused my involvement in the event to turn from a onetime this’ll be a lark fun-filled experience, followed by my repeated utterance of the phrase never again once I completed the event that first year (and for the next year or two after that), and, unbeknownst to me, into an experience with greater significance and deeper meaning; as the next November rolled around, though, I found that I looked forward to the challenge of NaNoWriMo, and the idea of writing, and I signed up for the event again, with glee and wild abandon. Because of the experience of, I began to change the way I viewed the craft of the written word, as I started to discover what it means to me.
This led to-over time-my participation in other timed writing events, followed by the evolution of my writing from a now and then activity into a passion, and then into a serious interest, beyond that of a mere hobby. That spark that came into life because of my participation in NaNoWriMo grew into an ember, which grew into a full-fledged bonfire. And that spark, and that ember, and that fire, glow bright and still live inside me today. And thus, a writer was born.
Which is why I love NaNoWriMo, as it forces me to write, and to set aside all the daily life stuff (for a while, anyway) and produce a written piece of work. Chris Baty, and National Novel Writing Month, I salute you. I owe you a debt of gratitude, one which I can never repay. Thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me over the years, and for the start on my hero’s (writer’s) journey.
Baty, Chris. No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Chronicle Books, LLC, 2004.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. “XLIII. How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways . . .”Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Love Poems, 1850. http://www3.amherst.edu/~rjyanco94/literature/elizabethbarrettbrowning/poems/sonnetsfromtheportuguese/howdoilovetheeletmecounttheways.html
No website article. NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. National Novel Writing Month, unknown. Web.1 Nov. 2017. https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/