Friday, November 16, 2007

Do you believe in NaNoWriMo?

So, I was hanging out with a fellow writer the other night (you know who you are!) and I was telling her about NaNoWriMo and the whole sort of philosophy behind it. The philosophy that if you just keep putting words on the page until you have 50,000 words you'll have sometime of value (at the very least personal value). She smiled a wry smile (I thought it was wry) and asked me if I really believed that.

And, I do. Now, I am not saying that you will have a publishable manuscript at the end of 30 days. In fact, the idea that you could just sit write for thirty days and hand it to a publisher or anyone else to read seems foolhardy Mr. Kerouac.

But, if you have a story in your mind or at the very least a character in your head that you want to know better...sitting down with a goal and deadline of course will have advantages. If you have any sort of savvy as a storyteller then you have an even greater advantage. I challenge those of you who read this blog, who fancy yourselves storytellers to write down 50,000 words. Not every word is going to be gold, but there is going to gold somewhere in those 50,000 words. There will be diamonds in the rough. You will feel a story or a shape or a character solidify.

Alot of people like to shit talk Thomas A Edison as a theft or what not. I haven't read the history so I don't know for sure. But the myth, the tale of Edison and the lightblub, that stick-to-it-tiveness does reap rewards even if they are merely personal gains.

I have asked a number of my friends to attempt this with me. I just like sharing things, especially things that I feel can be transformational like the sense I got after finishing the first draft of Seven Snakes in novel form. But people don't 'buy' it. They can not conceive of creating a prose piece of novel or novella length and it being any good. They don't believe that turning off the internal editor and letting words pour onto the keyboard irregardless or hap-hazardly or with extreme quantity will lead to worthwhile text. Or they just don't want or can't conceive of setting aside the mythos they bought into about how one writes a novel, of how one sweats over it, frets over, punches their solarplexus in self loathing over the process.

Not everybody is born to write or to tell stories. I understand that, but those of you who are and have never written a novel or anything longer than a short story...I say to you ext year...try it! You will learn things about yourself, about how you want to tell a story about the tactics you depend on, about tactics you might never had considered except that you have to get that word count up and fast.

Some people think that NaNoWriMo will take something they love and make it in a chore like cutting the grass. For me nothing could be further from the truth, and even though I have doubts about whether or not the gentlemen in my half finished novel are worthy of being in a story, I have written some turns of phrase and scenarios, and sequences I am damn proud of thus far that will make it into the final product of something I write and share with others.

So, yes I believe in NaNoWriMo. I am a true believer who will one day soon within the next 12 months have a fully edited Novel (From my first year, this year is my second) and a scripted version of the same story for the stage.

Writer's block? Try the following prescription...

On sheet of paper write down 3 lists of words side by side. Make each list of words at least 8 words long. Write down words that you like. Just words but words that you enjoy. Now take these list of words, take a word form any list and then another from any other list and compound them. Also take 3 to 5 words that you like from any of the lists and write a sentence using those words. Keep doing this until the writer's block goes away.

The visual artist has a sketchbook and they keep sketching until the image that want to focus on appears in the charcoal infront of them. Why not writers?


Anonymous said...

There are people who don't see the value in the NaNoWriMo project/challenge?

I wrote one a couple Novembers ago. It yielded some stuff I'm proud of. (Some stuff that was crap.) Definitely worthwhile to see that I could write something of that length and maintain the arc of a longform story (which I'd never done before in non-play form). But the bottom line is, I wrote a lot of stuff that was funny or unexpectedly moving, stuff I would never have stumbled upon without the word-count and deadline I'd put myself under.


Devilvet said...

Well, there are obviously alot of people who do buy into it. But there are alot of folks/friends who either don't believe it is doable without serious cheating/compromising or just sort of roll their eyes when you talk about it, as if it were something that maybe shouldn't be admitted in close company.

I guess the conversation I had sort of had me thinking about and sort rededicating myself to the idea again of NaNoWriMo.

Paul said...

Some people don't understand marathons, much less the Ironman.

Breton wrote some amazing shit, automatic-style.

It's a way to get you to trust your voice in an unknown format, and to show you how to shut down that stupid fscking internal voice that thinks it knows how to write. It doesn't. It knows how to edit really fscking well, but it can't write for shit.

Blah blah blah fart.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite songwriters, Jon Dee Graham, wrote awhile back that he was going through all the scraps that he had in various notebooks laying around and was piecing them together for songs for his next album. Then he apologized, tongue in cheek style, for ruining the illusion of the craft of songwriting for people. Thing is, a lot of songs I write get stitched together out of stuff I have randomly written down or just have been clanging around in the empty shell I call my brain. What you are doing is valid brother. You are a fucking talented writer (As is Stinton. Like...holy fuck y'know?) If you use a hard ass exercise like Nanarama then who the fuck is to say otherwise?