This month, I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo.
Those first two syllables might give you a momentary flash back to Mork and Mindy (yep, I’m dating myself – don’t go there). NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. And I’m grateful, because it’s an adrenaline-packed creative writing jump start. All you need to participate is an idea, and it doesn’t even have to be a good one. It just has to be a place to start.
The month-long goal isn’t about winning National Book Awards either, although I’m sure most of us harbor some secret fantasies in that direction. As founder Chris Baty says in his book, No Plot, No Problem, the goal is to write 50,000 words that “won’t make someone vomit.” Now there’s a goal a girl can live with.
So far this month, I’ve cranked out just over 31,000 words, which means I’m on the downhill side with at least some semblance of confidence that I will, in fact, finish on time and win. Everyone who writes at least 50,000 words is declared a “winner,” and I really like to win.
Strangely enough, winning is going to be easier than I first thought, in part because I’m no longer treating writing as a solitary quest. Usually, I’m sitting in my favorite chair for my appointed creative time in the mornings; or I’m banging away at the computer keyboard trying to meet a client deadline. But now, suddenly, I have writing buddies. Every Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon, 10 to 15 of us who have been audacious enough to accept the NaNo challenge have been gathering for “Write Ins” at Java Joe’s to alternately inspire and ignore each other, or compete against each other in Word Wars, as we all plod word by word toward our common destination. I’ve won a couple of Word Wars (it’s whoever can write the most words in 15 minutes, and I win when we have an early Word War before the really fast typers and thinkers arrive) and am now the proud owner of inspiring prizes, including a “Grow a Buddha” and a Fliptomania flip book with honeybees and hummingbirds in the “movie.” Yep, that’s motivation enough for me!
This afternoon, we’ll get an extra special treat. Java Joe’s will be closing early, so we won’t meet there. Instead, we’ve been invited to take over the upstairs at Chocolate Maven. We’ll settle in, open our laptops, order our favorite tea, or a cup of hot chocolate, or steaming coffee (off-limits for me), and reward ourselves with tasty pastries. The independent research of thousands of past Wrimos shows that word output is directly proportionate to the intake of caffeine and sugar. After tonight, we’ll either all achieve sugar comas, or we won’t sleep for the entire weekend.
Thanks, Chris Baty, the whole the NaNoWriMo crew, and my new writing buddies for the creative kick in the pants, and a perfect reason to avoid Black Friday and family dramas. Only 50,000 words? Keep writing fellow Wrimos! We can (almost) see the finish line from here!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!