November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. People attempt to write a manuscript of fifty thousand words within the 30 days of November.
I’m giving it a try this year. Maybe because of the writing I do every day professionally (for which I write 85-100k a month), maybe because of other issues, I’ve written no fiction, outside of some very short pieces (ie., under 500 words), the last few years, and that actually bothers me. I’ve outlined material — short stories, novels — and when I’ve sat at the keyboard to write, nothing happens. The words don’t flow.
This year, I hammered out a novel outline the last week and a half and, for the first time in a far-too-long while, I feel excited about writing fiction.
I don’t want to really talk about what I intend to do — I’ve found that talking about something is the quickest way to make the writing not happen — except to say that it’s for fun, it’s completely non-commercial, and while I intend to complete this, for me the goal is really to “kick” the creative gears back into place so they’ll turn again, that in working through the book I’ll force my way through my blocks.
Writing’s hard work, and I say that as someone whose profession is writing. It can be terrifying, but it can also be extraordinarily rewarding. Writers all face moments where we wonder why we started and ask ourselves what we’re doing, and it might be hard to see the value in the now when finishing seems so far away. Finding victories in little things — a turn of phrase, an unexpected character development, an unplanned tying together of subplots — is like finding a light in the darkness.
I am always reminded of what Ernest Hemingway wrote in his memoir of his life in Paris with his first wife Hadley, A Moveable Feast: “I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.” All I must do is write one true sentence — then keep going.
Expect infrequent updates through the month. Or, check in on my NaNoWriMo page.
Break a pencil, people!