It’s that time of year again. Sweaty palms and pounding heartbeat cuing the start of a race. The rush of a deadline can be highly motivating and it spikes my adrenaline every time as my fingers sprint across the keyboard. An entire month devoted to reaching a 50,000-word count? Yes, please!
You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” - Jodi Picoult
Many writers participate in National Novel Writing Month as a way to sharpen their skills and develop a better routine to facilitate their writing goals. Getting started, generating enthusiasm, respecting the deadline, and cultivating determination, focus and a strong work ethic is all part of National Novel Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo is one of those events I wait for with bated breath and keen anticipation. I would liken this sensation to a sort of electrical charge shooting up my spine and across my scalp, sparking my brain into a blaze of ideas. Of course, I write throughout the year, but there is something special about this time. With the numerous projects I manage at any given time, I take great pleasure in the act of pumping out a word count instead of getting lost in an idea, as I often do. I attribute this to the term known as Perfection Paralysis.
Here is the cycle: perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis. Rinse and repeat.
You may be like me or know someone like me, the sort of person who gets too in their head about the ideal result of an endeavor. It’s not because we’re lazy, but because we’re terrified. The fear that our skill does not match up to an ideal can be absolutely crippling. We think, I want this to shake up the world and get people thinking. Then we start comparing our work to that of the greats who came before us. Then we start panicking because we believe there's no way our work will measure up to theirs.
When I first start a project, I already have very high expectations for my work. There's a certain image in my head of what success will look like and it often gets in my way of enjoying the process. NaNoWriMo is an opportunity for me to get out of the dreaded mindset of perfectionism.
THE BENEFIT OF A DEADLINE
NaNoWriMo is not about creating a perfect or even palatable product. It tosses out the notion that your first draft has to be good. It is about the physical development of an idea which you can mold over time and getting into the habit of writing on a regular basis. Working to a deadline puts us squarely in the moment, affording us the head space to chip away at a tangible piece work instead of overthinking a concept or getting caught up in self-doubt.
NaNoWriMo helps writers to understand that the craft can be as rewarding as it is difficult. Having a large chunk of a first draft completed can bring a writer the elated high that comes with accomplishing something truly personal. It's a risk to put ourselves out there and onto the page, but we do it because it's a part of us. We write because we are human and we have something to say, not because we're perfect and we know better.
The ability to express our thoughts and feelings and ideas is a wonderful gift. The ability to develop a structure and routine designed to create an outlet for this expression gives us the power to reach out to others and gives them something to relate to. While our worldviews may not be altogether unique, writing presents us the opportunity to give a voice to those who can relate to our experiences. November is a time to refocus our attention toward this pursuit.
READY, SET, GO!
We have from November 1st to 11:59 PM on November 30th to write 50,000 words. To get started, follow this link: https://nanowrimo.org.
To accompany you on your mission, should you accept it, is a list of resources provided by the library:
- Sharpen your use of basics...
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen by Robert McKee
- Writing to Deadline: the Journalist at Work by Donald Murray
- Master your gift for storytelling...
- On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
- The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
- Save the Cat! the Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
- Learn more about the business side of writing...
Whitney Taitano, Circulation Desk Attendant