Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWri...oh no.

So, we're nearly 10 days into November and if you haven't started writing that novel yet, get crackin. You're about 15,000 words behind.

For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, November is officially (someone made it official, I think) National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo (the one and only time you'll ever see me write that), a project that tries to get people to write an entire novel in 30 days. Which is certainly a lofty goal...buuuuuuuuuut not one I can really get behind.

I mean, sure, it's great to encourage people to write, right? We all need some help getting motivated once in a while. And yes according to the website, the organization that runs the program does other good stuff, like promoting writing literary, fostering a sense of community and providing classroom kits for kids. So it's not all bad. But it *did* come up with the word "noveling," so I can't completely forgive them. Seriously, I don't mean to pick on them, except...

Except I think that typing out 50,000 words in 30 days is only part of the process. Granted, it's a big part. But at the end of the month, you don't have a novel. You have a first draft. And that's not a bad thing, but don't kid yourself. It's a draft. And it's going to probably not be great. In fact, I'm guessing (no offense to anyone), it's going to suck. But that's not a bad thing either. In fact, a sucky first draft is a shit-ton better than no first draft at all (says the girl with a partial first draft of a novel moldering in a drawer somewhere).

The point I'm trying to make is that what happens at the end of November, what happens when you hit "save" after you've typed out your fifty-thousandth word is not in any way shape or form the end. It's the beginning. It's where everything starts. You have a first draft, fer crissake. Do something with it!

Actually, *don't* do anything with it. Put it away for as long as you possibly can. Break up with your first draft. Let it down easy, because there's no kinder thing you can do for your writing than give it some space. Give yourself some space, too, while you're at it. Go out and see other novels. Play the field a little. Maybe experiment with a short story or two. Or you know, just take some me time.

Then, when you're up to it. go crawling back to that novel. Tell it how much you've missed it. Take it slow, spend an evening together, getting reacquainted, remembering all the good times you two crazy kids had. Only then can you really make a commitment to getting serious, long-term.

Okay, even I'm tired of this metaphor. But you get the idea. Time and distance are two of the greatest tools for a writer and they seem to be the two things that are most overlooked in the writing process. Perspective is key and you simply can't get useful perspective when you're furiously trying to come up with 1600/day for 30 days straight.
Writing makes me sleepy.

Listen, if participating in the November novel writing program is what it takes to get you motivated, to get you in the proper mindset in order to get what's been spinning around in your brain for I'm guessing years and years, then so be it. Write away. And then come December 1, walk away. Just until spring. Treat it like your favorite houseplant and keep it inside until after the threat of frost is over for the season. Then bring it out and cultivate it, let it bloom and grow (wow, I am *full* of dumb metaphors tonight.)

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