Okay boys and girls, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming this November. Coming for YOU.
Steve and I signed up two nights ago, and if you’re one of those people who dreams of writing a book, you should join us. For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month is an annual foray into writing 50,000 words of dreadful prose in the attempt to finish a book in a month. And yes, your final product will be completely dreadful, because there’s no time to rewrite anything.
Isn’t that great? The whole thing is designed to get people to take risks with their writing, to break them of perfectionism.
November has 30 days, so to get to 50,000, that’s roughly 1,667 words a day. Sound like a lot? Well, it is. But remember, those 1,667 words don’t have to be genius. In fact, they won’t be, because even the most talented published authors don’t write anything perfectly the first time.
I have this on good authority from author Anne Lamott (“Traveling Mercies,” “Grace Eventually”). From her writing book, “Bird by Bird”:
“Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it. Nor do
they go about their business feeling dewy and thrilled. They do not type a few stiff
warm-up sentences and then find themselves bounding along like huskies across the
snow…The right words and sentences just do not come pouring out like ticker tape most of the time.”
“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp
all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it
later…Just get it all down on paper because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be
writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go — but there was no
way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”
Your NaNoWriMo manuscript will be the child’s draft, your chance to write something so hideously imperfect that you just may hit upon something great. Like Anne Lamott said, you may not find that genius paragraph unless you write six pages of crap first.
So let me ask you: have you ever wanted to write a novel?
If your answer was yes, man, you’re so screwed. Because here’s the link to the official National Novel Writing Month site, just in case you missed it earlier.
Now you have no excuse. HA! Busted.
Go sign up, and at the end of November, you will have a 50,000 word monstrous document of glorious tripe that looks something like a completed story.
And you’ll have faced your fear of writing something imperfect.
So practice that dream. Go on.