In two hours, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know) will begin. In two hours, people all over the globe will start typing furiously in an effort to complete a 50,000-word manuscript by the end of November. So will I. It’s pretty insane; the goal is to write 1667 words every day for a month. You don’t agonize over them, you just type. The goal is not to produce a work of stunning literary genius, but to simply force oneself to start writing.
I started participating in NaNo in 2003, I think. A group of my friends enticed me into it with promises of camraderie and boozy write-ins. It was that during that November that I made two happy discoveries:
1.) I cannot write under the influence of alcohol. One glass of wine invites the muse to come a little closer, but any more than that? She flees from me faster than a reality tv star fleeing a marriage.
2.) Peer pressure is my best friend as far as churning out words. My group had long, hilarious email conversations. We sent each other the best and worst sentences we’d written each day. We commiserated about our low wordcounts, lack of plots, and work getting in the way of our noveling.
Most Fridays in November we got together for dinner and cocktails and tried to write. That first year was glorious, so we did it again. And again. And again.
I was active until about 2008, after which I went to grad school to study creative writing. I figured that getting my MFA in fiction was incentive enough to write like a demon every day. But now that my writing program is over I’m NaNoing again. My project this year ain’t the Great American Novel. It can’t be – there are dinosaurs. Hell, it’s not even the Great American Novel With Dinosaurs, because Michael Crichton already wrote that book. It is, however, a promising manuscript I’ve wanted to finish for years. I started it during NaNoWriMo three or four years ago.
This is the year I finish it.