NaNoWriMo – 3-2-1… Blast off!

Three days. That’s all we’ve got left. On Thursday, the big bang will be felt around the world as midnight rolls around and thousands of people frantically start typing, trying to eke out at least a few hundred words before going to bed.

Personally, I don’t stay up til midnight. I know that anything I wrote at midnight would be incomprehensible, as I’m usually in bed by 10:00 and asleep by 11:00. But with 300,000 people worldwide participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it will be interesting to see how many words are logged on that first day. (There’s a handy word counter on the front page of the NaNo site, counting all the words people put in their profiles each day.)

In looking at the forums yesterday, I was sad at how many people have given up before they’ve even started. A lot of them blame their inner editor (they should read this article!); that’s a pretty powerful inner editor if it’s screaming bloody murder before the writing even starts! I recommend kicking him or her to the curb. Forcefully.

What I’m wondering, really, is when we lost our ability to just have fun. Is it a societal thing? Is it a grown-up thing? I watch Chopped a lot on Food Network, and I’m always struck by how many chefs — obviously good chefs, to have even been accepted onto the show — say that they’re doing it for “validation.” To prove to themselves or their families that, to quote one I saw yesterday, they’re “worthy.”

But you know what I’ve noticed? The ones who are just having fun are usually the ones that win. My husband and I watched a Halloween episode of Sweet Genius last night (no, I’m not addicted to Food Network – but weekend night time tv is awful!), and one of the four contestants (I don’t remember her name) had fun with every single thing. Zombies as the inspiration? She grinned. Mushrooms into dessert? She chuckled. Pickled onions? She was excited. Black radishes? “Sweet!”

Now, mind you, she wanted the money as much as the other guy in the final round. She was recently divorced and living with her parents, and $10k would let her give her daughter “the house and stability she deserves.” She was passionate. But what was really striking, especially compared to the guy, was her sense of adventure and fun. While she was chortling and smiling and being supremely creative, the guy was freaking out about zombies, playing it safe, complaining about every secret ingredient, and generally acting like a fuddy-duddy. It was no surprise that he lost.

So, while you’re doing NaNo, think about this. Even if you’re trying to produce a usable first draft for eventual publication, it’s supposed to be fun. I have a poster from some NaNo event or other this past year. Here are some of the “Batyisms” (sayings of NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty) about the National Novel Writing Month:

  • You are part ninja, part monkey, part Stairmaster cyborg.
  • Make no mistake: you will be writing a lot of crap.
  • Monkey barrels full of fun!
  • Put yourself in unfamiliar places. Kindle passions. Savor the raw joy of making things, and then remake the best of those things until they take someone’s breath away. Wrestle bears. Actually, skip the bear-wrestling.
  • Write first! Ask questions later!
  • We took the cloistered agonized writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.

Finally, “We can all do amazing, impossible things when given a deadline, a supportive community, and unlimited access to chocolate and caffeine.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Now go out there and have fun in November!
(We’re now required to put in this disclaimer for anything containing ‘NaNoWriMo’ or ‘National Novel Writing Month’:  “This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit http://www.nanowrimo.org.”)

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14 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Writing

14 responses to “NaNoWriMo – 3-2-1… Blast off!

  1. Haha, that picture made me laugh! Good luck for NaNo! 🙂 Beth

  2. Love the pic!!
    My muse is forcing me to have fun with Nano this year… Every time I have thought, gosh, I should start planning this thing, my brain has shut down and decided to take a nap. i am typically a planner, with character sketches and a complete outline of every step along the plot. This year, I am going forward with very little planned out, just the barest idea of what my book is about, and you know what? Despite the unopreparedness making me feel slightly ill, I am going to do it anyway! 🙂 I hereby declare that I will let myself enjoy this ride!!

  3. Reblogged this on Catching Fireflies and commented:
    I think this is why my muse has been keeping my inner planner at bay these last few weeks… She was obviously worried that I was twking this whole NaNo thing too seriously. I saw a post on the NaNo facebook page this morning where someone filled a wall with post-its and notes about their novel, and now, with only a day or two left, they have lost the desire to write it. Being too invested in the novel before you even start is not a healthy approach to NaNo… It is a way to stress yourself out and take all the joy out of the process!! So go ahead and wrestle those bears! Be a word ninja! Take a chance and actually write a novel just for fun!

  4. Valentina

    Hahha it’s quite funny that in order to find a good pic for my post about NaNoWriMo I came upon a blog posting about NaNoWriMo 🙂
    Good to find you though probably won’t have much time to read you throughout November, but surely after that 😉

  5. How can you not have fun when you’re breathing life into some pretty amazing characters? And maybe a few really weird ones too?

  6. TheOthers1

    Reblogged this on ChantelC and commented:
    Perfect for me and anyone else about to get their NaNo on!

  7. Nice article – I’m thinking of giving NaNo a shot this time around and trying to stick the whole thing through… only a few hours to go and I’m still dithering, this article makes me want to plunge in and write haphazardly and more on gut and passion like I used to and see what happens.
    Cheers!

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