Climbing Mount NaNoWriMo

It all began again yesterday. National Novel-Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, is upon us once more. Ready or not, it’s time to grab your pens, pencils, word processors, or whatever else you use to write, and get busy on that novel that’s been bumping around inside your head.

30 Days and Nights

I love NaNo. For me, it’s a chance to write silly things, to have as much fun as I dare, to try new things, and to throw out all the “rules” about writing. For me, the only rule this month is “Have Fun.”

Some people are intimidated by NaNoWriMo, I think. They have this crazy idea in their heads that they’re supposed to write a novel during November. A perfect, ready-to-submit-to-a-publisher (or ready to self-publish) novel. In thirty days. It’s not going to happen.

Sure, there are authors who are more than capable of pulling it off.  There are probably a few NaNo participants who manage it each year. They’re the minority, of course.

The real purpose of NaNo isn’t to have a 50,000 word manuscript typed up and ready to go out the door on December 1. It’s to give ourselves a push, to help us break through barriers, and get words on the page. Funny, isn’t it, how the very thing that’s meant to set writers free ends up becoming a major source of that dreaded dis-ease known as “Writer’s block.”

Look, nobody says the words have to be good. During NaNo, I write garbage like this:

Frustrated, she threw her hands up in the air. Fortunately, she quickly realized what she’d done and caught them again before they hit the ground.

Or this:

He rolled his eyes. Again. He’d been rolling his eyes all day and all night. Mama had told him not to do it. But he couldn’t help himself. Sure enough, he’d probably go blind, just like Mama warned.

My characters sit around and talk a lot during NaNo. Like this:

“There’s nobody here, honey. Just take it easy. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“How do I know that?”

“Because, we wouldn’t have a story if I did, and I intend to be around for a long, long time.”

Or this:

“What are we supposed to do now?” Clearly agitated, Polly rubbed her temples. “Everything is such a mess! I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t even know who I am.”

“Calm down,” he said. “I think we’re supposed to begin bonding today. You know, getting better acquainted, learning to like each other, that sort of thing.” He waggled his eyebrows — not an easy thing to do.

“Oh, will you quit that!” Polly jumped from her chair. “You know I hate it when you do that.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, but I simply can’t bond with a man who waggles his eyebrows.”

Yes, I have fun. But, to borrow (well, steal) a phrase from the children’s magazine, Highlights, it is “Fun with a purpose.” The purpose is to get ideas onto the page. The purpose is to explore possibilities. The purpose is to play around with characters, try out new styles of writing, discover new twists and turns in plotting that I might not consider if I were taking myself and my writing too seriously.

So, go ahead. Have fun. Write your worst! It might prove to be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Oh, and don’t forget…you have to name something Nanowrimo. For me, one year it was a horse. Sometimes it’s a town, sometimes a character. I think this year it’s going to be the name of a mountain. Yeah, I like that.

Mount Nanowrimo.  I’m ready to go climbing.


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