Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Can I write a novel in 30 days?

A challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days or National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is quickly approaching. November 1st marks the day participants begin writing every day for one month in hopes of completing 50,000 words. The creators of this writing project hoped the dreams of aspiring novelists would come true by writing without inhibitions and putting the internal editor to sleep. Which, right now, is something I struggle with every time I sit in front of my computer.

Here's a peek into my daily writing routine: stop every few lines, go back, reread, shift words around, stare at the screen, plan my next move, check email, walk around, and repeat. I end up with more frustration than success. Perfecting an unfinished piece does nothing but waste time. You can't properly revise writing without seeing the whole picture. Yet, I do just that and all I accomplish is a lengthy list of excuses, getting no closer to finishing a project.

NaNoWriMo really challenges its participants to write without stopping, to push for quantity rather than quality. This could be a chance to write my first novel; a chance to really open up my creative flow, stay on the main road of writing, instead of constantly turning onto editing, revising, and insecurity side streets.

An ambitious endeavor? Sure, but my current unemployed status offers copious amounts of writing time. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?

Immediately, several drawbacks spring to mind.

Let's see . . . will there be time to complete other writing projects? Currently, I am building a freelance career, and time needs to be worked into the novel schedule for income-providing essays and articles. I could spend the rest of October developing the outline and character sketches for my novel and researching and outlining writing projects I can submit for payment. If all the leg work is taken care of I'll only need to focus on writing the essays or articles in between the novel.

What happens if I burn out? December comes along and slaps me in the face with a loss of interest, just in time for the holidays. The fear of not writing again creeps into my thoughts. I don't want to destroy something before it gets started. From what I have seen on the NaNoWriMo website though, the forums and meet ups help participants stay focused and motivated. Not only will I have put together a supportive community for the novel, but I'm sure they will be there after the challenge is over to keep me on track.

Questions of why I want to embark on this crazy novel-writing journey continue popping up. Challenging and pushing myself out of the comfort zone shows me what I can handle and how far I can go. My writing routine will pick up speed becoming reckless and wild. No time for second-guessing, releasing myself into a euphoric state of creation. Frustration, hesitation, and procrastination will no longer plague me on a regular basis. This outside pressure, forcing me past my insecurities, will produce a full piece of writing. I will be one step closer to my dream of publishing a novel, and be overwhelmed with pride.

Of course, the thought of not completing the challenge nags me, but the idea of fearlessness is intoxicating. Taking a tip from Sandra Cisneros, I won't let fear get in my way. I will tackle the things I'm afraid of. So, I'm going to sign up for the NaNoWriMo challenge. No more questions. No more hesitations.







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