Two days ago (on November 28th) I took a friend to her outpatient surgery visit. She was appreciative and apologetic and worried about me getting any work done. Given that this was the third time this month I was the designated driver, I assured was able to reassure her: medical waiting areas are a wonderful place to jack up the ole word count. Yesterday, when I took her back for a follow-up visit she asked how I was coming along with my goal. I was delighted to report that I had finished — more than twenty-four hours ahead of the deadline. I am a winner! (Phew!)
Although I’m not a novelist, I’ve been using November as a time to crank out 50,000 new words for more than ten years now. And, with the exception of the time we had to complete two real estate closings and corresponding moves in the four weeks in October, I think I’ve completed my quest.
Maybe because we had more than twenty members of our precious extended family here for Thanksgiving, but this year seemed to raise more questions than ever. Some people wanted to know why I participate. Another kept asking me why I don’t do 1,667 new words every day, all year long. (Note to self: is a careful look at the guest list in order? Just kidding.)
“You, wonderful author, spent this past November unleashing your creative powers, fighting back inner editors, and teaming up with thousands of writers around the world. We’re incredibly proud to welcome you to the NaNoWriMo winners’ hall. Congratulations on your superheroic achievement!”
So, in no particular order, here are some of this year’s revelations.
- If you’re a regular reader, you know I am fascinated by creativity and brilliance. The idea behind #NaNoWriMo certainly encompasses both. The project’s geometric growth is proof that there are LOTS of people who appreciate creativity and brilliance.
#NaNoWriMo exists to promote literacy. In addition to this crazy 50,000 sh*tty first draft in 30 days there are a number of ways the group seeks to encourage writing (and reading) in classrooms around the world. Actually, this seems like it would be a very good collaboration for the Amelia Island Book Festival or any other group that purchases books for classrooms.
- Permission. Once upon a time, I have a brief but powerful conversation with one of the well-known authors headlining our local book festival. He asked a few questions and said, “You have permission: go ahead and write the one you can’t stop thinking about.” That memory, combined with the November mantra “quantity over quality,” helps me uncover many of the” things I think I think.” I don’t know which ones will ever see the light of publication but it doesn’t matter. This is something I do because it makes me better at my craft.
I love the generosity and creativity of the #NaNoWriMo team. I mean seriously… who doesn’t like being referred to as a winner and superhero?
- It’s a stretch goal that is — for whatever reason — important to me. I enjoy the gratitude and appreciation I feel each time the “official word count validator” says “Congratulations — you did it!” It may be weird but it is what it is.
I now look forward to returning to our regularly scheduled programming: some slow and focused editing. And maybe a slightly smaller daily word count.
Andrea Patten’s award-winning title The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head was conceived during a #NaNoWriMo… and while she was working on a crappy first draft this month? She received a generous offer from an Asian publisher. Stay tuned!