The Benefits of WriMoing

I met Charlotte on Twitter. She and I decided to exchange blog posts about NaNoWriMo. Charlotte’s post is below, as you can see, she is a very enthusiastic Wrimo. My position is quite different, but you’ll have to check out her blog tomorrow to see what it is 😉

On the Benefits of WriMoing

 You may have heard about NaNoWriMo. The internet gets to buzzing about it around this time of year, and that strange, nonsensical word pops up everywhere.

If you haven’t, though, here’s a breakdown of the name. It stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. It’s a time when writers the world over chain themselves to their desks and frantically pound their way through the composition of fifty thousand words in thirty days. It starts on November 1st and ends on November 30th. In order to “win” (that is, to meet the target), one has to write an average of 1,666 words a day, every day for the whole month. Including weekends.

It can seem like a daunting proposition. How curious, then, that so many thousands of people volunteer for it every year and proceed to write those 1,666 words per day around their usual jobs, family commitments and social lives. Why in the world would one burden oneself so, it might be reasonable to ask?

The truth is, NaNoWriMo is a blast. Here’s why.

One of the most difficult things about writing is getting into the flow of it. It’s daunting, staring at a blank page and trying to decide how to begin. Every day this happens, because every day one loses much of the momentum one built up during the last writing session. Ordinary life gets in the way, and the mind must first discard such questions as what to make for dinner, and what time it’s necessary to leave in order to get to work/make it to that appointment/pick up the kids/etc. All this must be waded through before it is possible to get into the serious business of Making Stuff Up. Proper, absorbed focus can be an elusive beast.

But having deadlines – even self-imposed ones – can be an invaluable way of giving oneself a kick up the rear. Never mind the little issues and the worries: you have a target to aim for. Just write!

This is also effective because many writers suffer from a degree of perfectionism. It took me some time to develop the ability to finish writing projects, because I was always crippled with worries about how good my work was – or might be, if I ever got to the end. I didn’t want to write badly. Of course, the only way to learn to write well is to get through the bad stuff first. NaNoWriMo is purely about getting words down. The principle is: it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you produce your fifty thousand words!

And it’s liberating to think that way. The exciting thing is, once one gives oneself licence to write crap if that’s what comes out, it’s possible to be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the work that emerges. Some if it will be poor; some of it, however, will be great. You never know what your mind can do once you let it go.

Given that I am so wholly in favour of NaNoWriMo, then, it’s perhaps odd that I’ve never yet “won” at it. Somehow I always miss the month of November; it’s never been convenient for me. It’s the middle of the first term of the educational year, so for a few years I was too busy at that time to do it. This year I’ll miss it again. That’s because I’ve been writing in the spirit of NaNoWriMo for the last two months anyway; come November I’ll be deep into the editing phase.

But I don’t think it matters when you do it. I’m sure it’s much more fun – and easier to complete the challenge – if you do so alongside many others all cheering each other on. But it’s quite possible to simply adopt the principles and apply them to private work. It’s surprisingly possible to write fifty thousand words in a month; you just have to be prepared to give it a serious try. It’s a challenge I recommend to anybody who likes to write, no matter what it is that you’re doing.

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Miss Charlotte E. English writes fantasy novels with a twist of mystery. Her first novel, Draykon, was published in September of 2011; her second (produced under the benign and helpful spirit of NaNoWriMo) is scheduled for December. She blogs at www.charlotteenglish.com.

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