NaNoWriMo 2010

Hey everyone,

As I mentioned before, one of the key reasons i’m starting up this new blog is that I am participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year and I wanted to give my technical readers the option as to whether or not they wish to have to read about it.

I’ve been thinking about doing NaNoWriMo for probably ten years or so now.  I first heard about it back in 2000 during my first year of university.  I was taking writing pretty seriously then, primarily I guess because I had an awful lot more free time than I currently do.  I was a member for a time of an online community called Forward Motion, then run by Holly Lisle.  I met a number of people who had an influence on me in the short time I was there which I will no doubt talk about at a later time.

One thing I do remember was the excitement that swept the chat-room one November, and everyone was talking about this thing called NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month.  50,000 words in a month.  There was tradition in the chat room of “word warring” anyway, chatting while we wrote and trying to out-do each other’s word count before we ran out of steam, so the idea of NaNoWriMo found a number of enthusiasts there immediately.

I was too late to begin taking part that year, though at the time I was writing at least 1000 words a day as a matter of course.  By the time the next year rolled around much had changed, and I wasn’t as common a visitor to Forward Motion as I had been in the past.  November came and went without me even noticing NaNoWriMo, and as things changed so did I.  I wrote less, some poetry, some articles for the student magazine, but not as much fiction.  I focused on my studies, on the abstract word of code, algorithms and logic.

By the time I graduated, I was barely writing at all.  I focused on my career and starting a family, and I’ve been happily successful at both.

As all writers know, however, that itch never goes away.  From time to time I hit the keys, turning out a few short stories here and there.  I started my original blog primarily as an effort to satisfy that itch, and hopefully help some of the people who had to dig through arcane error messages in an attempt to fix broken software much as I did.  It was never quite enough however.

From time to time I looked at NaNoWriMo and thought about finally giving it a go, but there was always a reason not to.  I got very sick for a while and wasn’t much good for anything, there was always too much work to be done, I spent a few years working on my Masters degree and November is right smack in exam time.

Now? There are still great reasons not too.  Work is challenging and above all demanding, I often find myself working nights and weekends to ensure that it all (or as close to all as I can manage) gets done.  I have a nineteen month old daughter who has discovered the words “no” and “mine” and is determined that anyone who looks focused on something should really be playing with her.  I haven’t been sleeping well, so by the time I get home from a long day at work, I feel completely exhausted.

There will always be good reasons not to take part, I realise now.  I’m the sort of person who takes on projects and responsibilities right up to the point where I can barely cope; and when the load gets lighter starts looking around for something else.  I get bored easy and have a million things I want to do, so that its hard to focus long enough to ever finish anything.

As well as this, NaNoWriMo is frightening.  It’s a commitment to write every single day for a month, to write a non-trivial amount every day.  Failure is a real possibility for anyone taking it on, let alone someone with a more-than-full-time job and a family.  I am as troubled by failure as anyone else.

What I’ve realised however is that NaNoWriMo is about more than the 50,000 word wordcount.  It’s about more than success or failure, and it’s about more than whatever novel you are working on when you attempt it.

NaNoWriMo is our way to say that writing is important to us.  It is as important to us as any other part of our lives, and for one month we assign it visible importance.  We lock ourselves away for hours each day to work on it, we tell our friends and family that we are busy and we devote ourselves to our craft.

Want to call yourself a writer? Well writers write! Many of us have daydreamed about doing this for a living and whilst that would mean no day job to get in the way, don’t kid yourself that it would mean no distractions.  Anyone who has ever worked for themselves understands that the world conspires to convince you not to work, there is always something else that needs doing, some easy way to procrastinate yourself into trouble.

I’ve wondered for a while now if I have the discipline it would take to succeed as a writer.  Well, lets find out.

What makes you want (or not) to participate? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.


About frater

Author, Software Architect, Husband and Father.
This entry was posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to NaNoWriMo 2010

  1. Kamigoroshi says:

    I think the deeper question is simply this. If you have the desire to be a write, not just be a writer, but to simply put your universe, your world and all its people down into words, then really why should it be hard to start?

    A lot of people who take part in Nano have other commitments as well, school, career, family. The main thing we all share in common is our desire to just write what we want to write. Many participants don’t even aspire to be published writers.

    Myself, I work a full time career which takes up a lot of my time (so much so I sacrifice a social life to have it), but I made is a point to work on Nano regardless because I just want to write. That’s a passion and one that burns as fiercely and brightly as a thousand suns. That’s the only reason that overshadows all excuses not to do Nano.

    So ask yourself. Do you really want to write? The rest is just semantics.

  2. Jaye Patrick says:

    What makes me participate? Madness, probably. I’m genetically incapable of resisting this type of challenge – and I want my word queen crown back, thank you very much!

    November is my big writing month. Discipline, focus, imagination and the ability to tell family to ‘go away’, all comes into alignment (along with the stars, I’m sure) and the words flow. By the end of the month, I’m exhausted, excited and have between one and three books in first draft. Can’t ask for more than that… o.0

    I, too, saw this on Forward Motion and took the challenge; I’ve not managed to stop yet and this is my eighth year. Lazette is a hard taskmaster to keep up with!

  3. frater says:

    I don’t think the rest is just semantics at all, if anything you’re being overly simplistic. I do agree with most of what you have said, in fact it isn’t too far from what I said in the post itself, but whilst it is wonderful that you have a burning passion that overrides everything else to the point that it’s just down to whether or not you want to write, not everyone else can see the choice in such simple black and white terms.

    Do I want to write? Yes I do, and in fact i’m already a published author. The first time I was paid professional rates for a story was a very proud day for me, but it also helped me see why I enjoy writing. It isn’t only the writing itself – lord knows that can be a long, laborious and at times difficult process, despite the joys inherent in the act of creation. It wasn’t getting paid or published either, much to my surprise. What I enjoy, perhaps even more than the writing itself, is being read.

    However, is the question of whether or not to do Nano as simple as whether or not I want to write? Obviously it’s not, or else i’d have been doing it all these years.

    What it comes down to is, how important is writing to me? Would I put it before my family, my wife and daughter? That isn’t a silly hypothetical, there are many people for whom the all consuming passion to write cost them dearly. Marriages broken, jobs, houses and means of living lost, entire lives devoted near to the point of destruction to please their muses.

    I’m not like that. I’d rather stay married than write, rather spend those special moments with my daughter than write and I would rather keep my house than write. The moment writing conflicts with one of these other, higher, priorities, it must take a back seat, regardless of how much I love it.

    What NaNo does then, for me and others like me, is give a single, time-boxed length of time where we can say – “For this short period of time, I am willing to allow my passion for writing override my other obligations”. To a degree anyway. That is why it is important to those like me.

    For those for whom it is “an all-consuming passion, burning as brightly as a thousand suns”, why do you need NaNo at all? You should be writing like that every single day.

  4. frater says:

    @Jave – I don’t think i’d ever try to keep up with Lazette. It’d probably kill me 😉

  5. Keladryie says:

    I’ve done and won NaNo since 2004, through finishing high school, through finishing university and a Government traineeship, and through a friend’s wedding in Fiji, and you’re right. There’s never a good time for it – there’ll always be something on in your life – family and work commitments will always have to come before fun desires – frankly, there’ll never be a good time to write 50,000 words in a month, and really, that’s what makes it FUN.

    For me, it’s a little easier – I don’t have a social life – that’s what I sacrifice to write, because I write daily. I’ve been published (just a short story, but still. It keeps me happy until I’m confident enough to send away a novel…) and I know it’s what I want to do with my life. I love my day job, and I know I don’t want to make a living from writing – I think I’d go insane without the distraction of work – but it is what I want to BE. Even if I wrote a bestseller and had the money to quit my day job… I probably wouldn’t. BEING a writer is my desire, and that’s all that matters to me.

    Good on you for taking the plunge with NaNo 🙂 It’s an excellent exercise of shoving away the inner editor and just WRITING straight on and on for a month, and the company is excellent. I hope you have fun with it, and show up again next year too 🙂

    • frater says:

      Hey Keladryie,

      You’ve given me hope! If you can write through a wedding in Fiji, surely I can cope with the stress of my day job and toddler mayhem 😉

      Here’s hoping anyway.

  6. Rose Wade says:

    Congrats on the new blog. I enjoyed the read. I’ve also recently started a new blog in order to gear up for this November’s NaNoWriMo. All the best of luck to you with your family and with your writing!

    @}- Rose

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