Every November I participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, during which participants challenge themselves to write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I also serve as the Municipal Liaison for my state (=author wrangler, pep talker and Master of the event calendar). Some Wrimos are plotters – they’ve spend the other 11 months of the year plotting an outline of their Nano Novel, while other Wrimos are pantsers – they plunge in at midnight November 1st frantically typing anything that pops out of their fingertips. Both types of Wrimos start off strong, but because it’s hard to write 1667 words a day if you’re out of the habit, inevitably, the chatter on the NaNoWriMo forums turns to a discussion about word count, sludge and major manuscript padding.
To be successful during NaNoWriMo, you have to suspend your disbelief, withholding judgement on the quality of the work, while focusing on churning out quantity. For the plotter or the panster, NaNoWriMo is all about pushing through writer’s block and forcing your characters to make a decision that moves the story forward. Sure it could be crap, but sometimes writing sludge will get you to the other side of something or unravel a puzzle or spark an idea that you hadn’t considered before. One of my writing teachers encouraged us to develop a daily writing habit (aargh! there’s that darn journal cropping up again) because it was like turning on the water in a faucet that hadn’t been used in a long while. Daily writing is like letting the brown water flow until eventually it runs clear.
I liked this quote from Neil – but I have yet to find a quote I don’t like from Neil – because he really puts some good perspective on the whole excruciating process, don’t you think?
During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers. Join us!