Sunday, November 10, 2013

Staying Somewhat Sane During Writing

This year, I’ve enlisted some of my writing buddies to help me blog about the wonderful/frustrating experience that is NaNoWriMo. This is Rhonda, a Wrimo I met two years ago.

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. " -- Ernest Hemingway

This is one of my favorite quotes about writing. Another, coincidentally by the same author, is “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

November. NaNoWriMo. That time of year when those of us who have silently, stealthily, steadily struggled all year with putting passion on a page finally ADMIT to doing so. That time of year when an otherwise lonely occupation/preoccupation becomes social and lively. But 50,000 words in a month? 1667 words a day? Isn’t that crazy?

The answer is YES. It IS crazy. The late nights, the dreaded writer’s block, the pressure to make goal…it’s all crazy. Crazy wonderful—if you don’t take it too seriously.

I think it might also be crazy in a negative way—if you let it. The key is not to let it. I know people who set “double goals” for themselves, and instead of 1667 words per day, they aim to write twice that. If it works for them, great. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it! I’ve read message boards where participants are crying ALREADY about being behind. Forget about that daily number. There will be days when you write few words and days when the words can’t be turned off. Forget that goal number—and just WRITE. After all, that’s the point of the project. Some of my best work STARTED in NaNoWriMo in the years that I did NOT make goal. And that’s okay…the end product was exactly what I wanted, even if it took months more than just November to make it happen.

For me, NaNoWriMo is less about making goal than it is about camaraderie. It’s about friendship. It’s about taking a solitary activity like writing and making it social. It’s commiserating with others who completely understand your point about your main character taking your story in a bizarre direction that you didn’t plan. It’s coffee and laughter, support and encouragement, sharing and constructive criticism. It’s about coming out of your cave long enough to see that you’re not alone in this mad desire to get that story that lives deep inside you OUT for the world to see. It’s about connecting on a real level with like-minded individuals whom you might not otherwise even meet. It’s about sharing a love of the written word—even though sometimes, as “Papa” said, it’s “like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

It’s November. Look around. There’s a chill in the air, leftover Halloween candy is half price and Christmas displays are up in the stores. Men are growing facial hair to support prostate cancer awareness (or so they say), and crazy groups of people are meeting in coffee shops all over the country. It’s November, and everything feels… “just write”!

This week, Rhonda was a bit under the weather and was unable to write her own blurb about herself. So I’m doing it for her.

Rhonda taught high school English for 20 years. She was in NC for a bit, met some crazy Wrimos in Greenville, then apparently got “homesick” and decided to move back to New York. We’ve all forgiven her for moving, but Greenville write-ins are not the same without her.

Regardless, Rhonda is an amazing writer of at least one Young Adult book that will hopefully be published one day. I got to read a few chapters. Be jealous.

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