I did something sort of bold a few weeks ago–I signed up for National Novel Writing Month–NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write a novel–at least 50,000 words–from November 1-November 30. One month.
It’s completely insane. But I thought, why not? At the very worst, I will never open the website again and will just keep living my life. No harm, no foul.
But as November creeps closer, I find myself not getting scared of the zombie posters in the subway or the inflatable skeletons decorating stoops around the neighborhood or even the prospect of seeing dozens of wrecking ball costumes around Manhattan over the weekend–no, what’s scaring me is the prospect of this damn NaNoWriMo.
The thing is, once you sign up for something like this, something that you’ve heard of and have been thinking about for several years, you can’t just ignore it. Especially when they send you emails like this. You have to either admit failure before even starting and move on with your life, knowing you didn’t try, or you can admit failure after you’ve tried to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Neither choice is particularly appealing. I suppose I COULD meet the goal and “win” the challenge–but then what would I have? 50,000 words worth of some serious editing to do…and probably a LOT of disillusionment about this idea of writing a novel.
NaNoWriMo definitely has its share of critics. With good reason. Writing a novel is a monumental task, one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly, one that takes time, planning, commitment, and a certain degree of complete insanity. I fully realize this, and I think that’s part of the reason I signed up for the damn thing in the first place. I’ve had this idea for a novel kind of floating around for the past year or so, and thought that, even if I don’t make it past day 2 or 500 words, at least I will have sat down and started it. That’s gotta count for something, right?
This weekend, in a writing rut (of which I’ve yet to break out of), I typed out the brief outline I’d written on a plane several months ago for the first few chapters. Rather than inspiring me or sparking new ideas, I found myself hating the entire idea, all of the characters, and wanting to throw my notes into the fake fireplace at the bar I was writing in. (What, you don’t do your writing at bars?)
So now I find myself at an impasse. I know that actually starting to write it will be the spark I need to at least have the courage to completely scrap the story or to keep going and see what takes shape. But I’m still dreading it, like going to the dentist (which I also did today) or doing my taxes.
And now that I’ve committed to this thing even further by openly confessing on my blog, I at least have to sign in on the first day…I will let you know how it all turns out.
Has anyone done NaNoWriMo before? What are your impressions? Any words of wisdom to share?