Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Do the NaNoWriMo?

The following was originally written for the Fear of Writing website back in 2010, and still rings true today. Now that the South Jersey Writers' Group is in the midst of NaNoWriMo, I think this might be a good time to unearth this nugget. Notably, since its writing, I am now on my eleventh year of NaNo-ing, and have finished three times. Enjoy, and be sure to check out FoW for great writing resources and inspiration.

When I was asked to contribute a guest blog about the NaNoWriMo, I jumped right in, just like the NaNoWriMo, and churned one out - and much like the publishing industry itself, I was told it wasn't a good fit. Good friend and the queen of Fear of Writing Milli Thornton quickly rattled off a few more appropriate topics. Number one was not only why do the NaNoWriMo, but why, like me, why do it eight times in a row.

Well, the answer of course is easy. I'm a masochist. I obviously must be. Why else would I subject myself to this process every November? And why would I keep coming back? Over and beyond the concept that I think all writers are masochists, there is another reason, a much more palatable one - to write.

When you become entrenched in the writing community, you quickly learn there are two kinds of writers. There are writers who work and work and are always on one project or another, and are always in the midst of the words. They are doing it, and if they are lucky, and they have the talent - these are the ones who make it.

The other kind of writer is the talker. Oh yeah, they talk a good game, they know their stuff, but you never really see them at work. Sure, maybe they have one or two finished or unfinished novels in their desk drawer or on disc that have never and/or will never be accepted, or revised, or edited. They're not writers, at least not anymore, they just talk about it.

November's National Novel Writing Month is a dividing line, and a barbed wire barrier. It firstly keeps the workers from becoming talkers, and second, it gives the talkers a chance to redeem themselves and become workers again. The goal, bottom line, of the NaNoWriMo is to make you write. Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, words on page. Do it.

Now a lot of the workers also have their share of pitfalls in their busy writing lives. Sometimes they get bogged down in one project, so intent on that little world or universe you lose objectivity as its creator. Fresh winds and new ideas not only rejuvenate but give new insight to old ideas. The NaNoWriMo is a fresh wind, in that you must create a whole new novel from scratch. November is one big walk in the park or long cold shower - you know, those getaways that give you the energy to tackle an old project that's been dragging you down.

National Novel Writing Month also provides opportunities to meet other writers. Whether it is making writing buddies or posting on the message boards at the NaNoWriMo website, or actually attending the in-person Write-Ins in your region - it is always good to talk with and network with other writers. If only to compare notes and experiences and even talk about trends in the industry, writing is a solitary endeavor, and it's always good to know you're not alone.

The newness of the NaNoWriMo also keeps you fresh, period. As I indirectly confessed earlier, this is year number eight for me and the NaNoWriMo. I have finished my novel once within the given thirty days, but I have finished the novel started in almost every case. I've edited and revised and submitted those novels as well. And it should most importantly be noted, had it not been for the NaNoWriMo, they never would have been written to begin with.

Imagine that, every November a new manuscript to work on. Some folks work their whole lives to get one manuscript. If that alone isn't enough to get you to do the NaNoWriMo, I don't know what is.

About the author: Glenn Walker is the Membership Director of the South Jersey Writers' Group, Associate Editor of Biff Bam Pop!, and a French fry connoisseur. You can hear him on The GAR! Podcast, The Make Mine Magic Podcast, and see him on The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast. And while he doesn't have any of his own work in it, he wants you to buy and read Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey, and, most importantly, contrary to popular belief, he does not flog guest-bloggers.

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