It’s that time of year again. The time when every hopeful and enthusiastic writer puts aside mundane trivialities like family and hygiene in order to pump out 50,000 words in 30 days. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.
For those who do know what I’m talking about, I feel your excitement. For every participating would-be author, November 1st brings about the belief that anything is possible. The world is laid bare at your feet and is eagerly awaiting the ingenius novel that is about to be released upon the lowly plebeians. You become convinced that your name will be in the company of Hemingway, Joyce, Salinger and Fitzgerald (my personal favorite. Oh Gatsby, how I love thee).
Then the excitement turns to anxiety. By mid-November you’ll settle for a trashy novel that will grace the shelves of your local department store. You’ve realized that your readership will mostly consist of family and friends, and your biggest fear is that they will soon understand just what sort of “genius” you really are. The initial “You’re writing a novel? That’s incredible!” reaction has turned to “You’re still doing that thing? Haven’t you given it up yet?”. The characters in your head have taken the place of your real life relationships as you begin to notice fewer and fewer people attempting to socialize with you (in their defense, the smell you’re emitting is probably more off-putting than your recent lapse from sanity).
Finally, anxiety turns to despair. All you care about is seeing the word count on your word processor hit 50,000. The notions of a coherent story and consistent characters have all gone out the window. You’re just happy if you can remember your main character’s name. You’ve used every cliche you can think of, gone against every rule of “Good Writing” and forgotten the meaning of grammaticality as you obsessively pound on your keyboard (or scribble in your notepad) the final words that will launch you into the official “novelist” minority. At this point you have no intention of letting your novel – if you can call it that – see the light of day, as that is the only way to keep your close relations under the delusion that you are indeed a creative genius. Instead maybe you’ll stick to your day job. Maybe you’ll take up stamp collecting. Or maybe you’re thinking you’ll start a blog in hopes of it sending you on the path of witty journalism (I’ll kill your hopes now. Been there, done that. Doesn’t work).
But have no fear. Soon, ever so soon, you will once again return to normal life. You will come out of that darkened room that was your writing sanctuary for 30 days straight. Disoriented and bleary-eyed, you will stumble back into the bright and sunny world of the living. You will then be free to eat, bathe, and kiss your loved ones (do them a favor and make sure the bathing part comes first) like a normal human being again. It’s a long, zombie-walk sort of tunnel, but I promise you there is a light at the end of it.
For the rest of you, you lucky non-obsessive-writer-types you, this video may help in summing up the delirium that will inevitably set in at some point during the upcoming month:
AN: For those who are wondering, I wrote this yesterday so it wouldn’t get in the way of our daily 1667 daily word quota. Check out my links page if you want to add me as a nano-buddy.
- “Writing the mad dash – National Novel Writing Month” and related posts (scholarsandrogues.com)
- Stave Off Writer’s Block This November with NaNoWriMo (seattlest.com)