Thursday, May 31, 2007

Could you write a novel in one month?

Some industrious fools, er, artists challenge themselves to write entire novels in a single month. Others try to create a script, draw 30 pages of a comic, or complete 10 works of art during those four weeks.

Why? As part of The Office of Letters and Light's National Novel Writing Month and its sister projects. What, you haven't heard of it? (Of course you haven't. Neither had I.) Well, according to Wikipedia:

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a creative writing project originating in the United States in which each participant attempts to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Despite the name, the project is now international in scope. Nearly 80,000 participants registered in 2006, with almost 13,000 winners verifying their novels as meeting the goal. The cumulative word total for all participants in 2006 was 982,564,701.

When I was a reporter, I cranked out at least one story per day, and I'm not sure I reached 10,000 words a month, let alone the required 50,000. Makes me wonder if most of the participants are freelancers (that is, work for themselves from home) and thus have the time to pursue such a challenge.

I don't know how other writers might feel, but I find the idea of this project intimidating for yet another reason: I often fall into the mindset (a.k.a. trap) that I can only write when inspiration strikes, only when that "flow of consciousness" (a.k.a. creative vomiting) allows me to.

But working as a reporter forced me to look at writing as something one can do on cue. To this day, even after years of writing on cue for professors and editors, I doubt my abilities. I scowl at the final product, comparing it to some imaginary piece of work I would have created if I'd simply not been put under pressure. Truth is, perhaps I only look at those essays and news stories that way because they don't really fall under the "Writing Topics I Chose Myself" umbrella.

In the end, it's all subjective: the writing itself, the place it comes from, and the way we judge and absorb it. So, I remind myself everyday to not hesitate, to just let it flow, spit it out, puke it up, let it go, and maybe, someplace in the rubble that is my copious notes, I'll find something worthwhile, a clause or even an entire paragraph that speaks to me, to you or to somebody out there, where ever "there" is -- seems that's exactly my target market anyhow.

Regardless, it's an inspiring thought, the idea of making yourself just sit down and get on with it already. Here I was, thinking I barely had time to eat dinner, do a load of wash, and post a blog or two this evening. I better get cracking...

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