How We Write: NANOWRIMO and how we DON’T write!

I have a concern every November that the sheer quantity of words everyone participating in NANO produces won’t result in finished pieces/novels that will ever be revised well enough to sell. But what cheers my heart every year is the sound of writers hitting their writing goals and learning a little more about what’s blocking them.

Writers Block Calvin and Hobbs

Because, here’s the thing. All writers arrive at this dream of creating and sharing our inner lives with the world, capable of absolutely shutting down our ability to write with nothing more than doubt and fear and frustration over how EASY it is for everyone else to do what is most difficult for us. When the reality is, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR EVERYONE.

Part of our job is learning how to write through the speed bumps of our inspiration and self-esteem and premonitions of failure. We have to believe in ourselves more than we do the growing pile of scenes and character sketches and rejected story lines that we ALL discard with every project.

writers block trashcan

This is called research and draft writing and immersing yourself in your project. It’s a good sign, that you have something to throw away. That you’ve produced SOMETHING, anything, that shows you a new step to take and another idea to flesh out and a tangent you’ve already investigated and rejected that you don’t have to spend any more time on.

Deciding WHAT NOT TO WRITE is just as important as writing forward in your draft. Learning that you can stop one idea and start on another without losing momentum is key to being a productive creative writer. Teaching yourself how to write your way out of the roadblocks and blind turns and dead-end corners of your process is what NANO is all about–not merely the sheer number of words you can type or write onto a page in 30 days.

In short, we have to learn not to indulge the wimpy, whiny, needy writer diva inside all of us who would love to lie about and wait for inspiration to strike, rather than writing through the hard times because that’s what’s going to get our story/book completed.

writers block kitten

Goal setting. Confidence building. Tangible results from determined bursts of hard work. These are all amazing benefits of NANO’s annual ritual.

Is 50k the end zone? No, not in my experience, watching this frenzy year after year.

As I said last week, what we need to learn most is how to write beautifully, with inspiration beyond how many nouns and verbs, etc. we’ve strung together in a day/week/month. To do that, we must research and plan, live and absorb the world around us, then revise and rewrite and carve out story within story within story, until we arrive at the true destination and purpose of each project.

It hurts, when I hear of the projects that get tossed into drawers, never to be returned to again, after the chaos of NANO subsides and writers are faced with thousands of words they don’t feel they have the skill to finesse into something readable. I hope for these creative minds that they spend the next year learning the craft that will make their next rough drafts better, and help them rework and revise and rewrite the result of their next dash to the NANO finish line.

Alas, too few seem to.

But writers must also cultivate discipline and determination and belief that we can write when we set our minds to it, no matter how difficult the timing or obstacles might be. We must recognize what keeps us from writing and conquer that most of all, or the rest is moot. And for that reason alone, NANO is an exercise every writer should experience at least once.

Best of luck with your November. I hope it yields beautiful, challenging, exciting hours of writing that you’ll continue into this year’s December and beyond.

Write on!

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One Response to “How We Write: NANOWRIMO and how we DON’T write!”

  1. awww the cute kitty picture distracted me for a while there hehe
    Excellent post; it always impresses me how dedicated and goal oriented writers are. Writers who want to stick with it have to be tenacious. It’s all apart of the job :)

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