Let’s Talk NaNoWriMo

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The last few weeks for me have been crazy busy, but tomorrow … the real crazy begins.

November is the National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), an annual event that encourages writers (whether hobbyist or serious-ist) to try to write a significant portion of a novel they may have deep inside of them.  Directly speaking, the goal is to crank out 50,000 words between midnight November 1st and 11:59pm November 30th.  The limits are boundless on what story you want to tell, what words you choose to write, or your intentions with the story after your are done with it.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be well written … or good for that matter.  The point isn’t to write a work of art, the point is to crank out words that were stuffed deep inside of you waiting for a bit of crazy to get it out there.

If you’ve been following the Bear Feed for a while, this may not be the first time you have seen me mention it.  This is, in fact, my fifth real attempt at NaNoWriMo.  Looking back, it seems I blogged about it at least on seven or eight different occasions, which is kind of strange to say that I wrote about writing, but … meh.

Because it’s my fifth go at it, and because I have been successful reaching 50,000 words the last 3 years, I know the process (and my process) pretty well.  It inherently requires me to find an hour or two every day to get something, anything, down.  In between those periods of writing, I am thinking about that next section, mentally writing it in my head … like, I take the longest damn showers in November, just sitting there and going over dialog or stories.  I look at things through my character’s eyes – not in search of what to say, but because they dig their way into my psyche.  I don’t hold myself back from writing, so if I roll over at 2am and something comes up – I jump on the lap top, crank out a section, and then … well keep writing usually.  Sleep is as much fiction as what I type up in November.  By two or three weeks in, the crazy has taken hold, and I am running through the highs and lows of inspiration, fatigue, and alcoholism.  When I am done, and there always comes a point when I am just “Done” – the celebration begins, and normal starts finding its way back to me.

Yet, this year is a little bit different.  Like it seems in all the evolution of the hobbies I take on, I start off dabbling in the shadows, try some things on my own, get more and more social about it with people in the know, then at some point take on a more vocal role in the program.  I found out about this time last year that JPL has a number of people who also give it a try.  Some of them pulled me into a non-JPL (but totally JPLer) critique group where we share our stories in hopes of refining and improving it.  It got to the point that I lead a discussion on NaNoWriMo here at JPL to encourage others to join in, sign up, and give it a go … almost making me feel like I need to encourage them to be successful.

The weird thing about all that is that … well … I am talking about writing.  Writing to me is a very personal and very intimate thing.  I don’t share my work usually, because of reasons that run from self-doubt, to straight up not wanting you to ask how I knew so much about certain subjects.  I’m not along in that mindset.  For all the people I have met through the NaNoWriMo process, I maybe have seen one or two of their stories.

Yet there I was in front of thirty JPLers throwing out mad ideas on how to kick-start a story concept, how to maintain your creative direction, and where to get really high octane coffee.

November has become an exciting, crazy month for me now that I look forward to for long stretches of the year.  My concepts start forming, my plot starts building, and my characters start speaking to me.  Then when November comes, I am cranked up to crank out the word vomit.  Yet it is the creative process that is so fascinating to me.  Every year I have done NaNoWriMo, I hit some point where what I am writing just seems to be something that is so deep in my head that I am amazed of what comes out.  Sure that can happen any time of year, but it is gushing and gushing for weeks.

So, here comes the November, the crazy crazy month of writing dangerously.  Wish me luck, and I’ll let you know how it comes out in the end … probably.

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