Read This: One Continuous Mistake via Beatrice.com by ronhogan on 11/5/10
Now that we’ve established that you should ignore the NaNoWriMo naysayers, I’d like to share with you two complementary bits of advice I’ve found online and one book that I think get at the heart of the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who have chosen to participate in it. A few months ago, John Scalzi wrote a short essay in which the takeaway line (at least for me) was, “Either you want to write or you don’t, and thinking that you want to write really doesn’t mean anything.”
“Do you want to write or don’t you? If your answer is ‘yes, but,’ then here’s a small editing tip: what you’re doing is using six letters and two words to say ‘no.’ And that’s fine. Just don’t kid yourself as to what ‘yes, but’ means.
“If your answer is ‘yes,’ then the question is simply when and how you find the time to do it. If you spend your free time after work watching TV, turn off the TV and write. If you prefer to spend time with your family when you get home, write a bit after the kids are in bed and before you turn in yourself. If your work makes you too tired to think straight when you get home, wake up early and write a little in the morning before you head off. If you can’t do that (I’m not a morning person myself) then you have your weekend… And if you can’t manage that, then what you’re saying is that you were lying when you said your answer is ‘yes.’”
Last year, Merlin Mann offered very similar advice, elaborating on the importance of keeping up your momentum: Start writing, and keep writing! He also warned about paying too much attention to creative writing advice: “When I’m reading about writing, I’m not writing.”
That said, I do want to take a quick moment to plug one of my all-time favorite books about creativity and writing, Gail Sher’s One Continuous Mistake. Its core message is straightforward, best expressed by two of the four “noble truths” upon which Sher builds her advice. “Writers write,” she says. “If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to write.” The rest of the book is about opening yourself up to the process of writing and teaching yourself to get out of your own way. The chapters are short, but each one is packed tightly; in a way, the book is more useful as a devotional-like object than as an argument to be read all the way through. Because, after all, you really should be writing.
Hey Teens! November is National Novel Writing Month! And here's the deal, starting November 1st and ending on the 30th the goal is to write a novel. This novel is only to be written within the month, the goal is to write a 175-page or 50,000-word. For more information visit, NaNoWriMo.
Check out the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program!
Click here for a workbook.
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
In 2009, we had over 165,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
So, to recap:
What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.
Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.
Laura & Bailey
Laura Prestia and Bailey Murray are the Young Adult Specialists here at the Albany County Public Library.
NOTE: Comments with no name, contain advertisements and/or irrelevant contact information will be deleted from the blog. Please keep comments relevant to the topic, and please do not advertise.