Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo - Open Season


November, apart from having an amazing name, is also the NaNo month, host of the word count progress on steroids event called NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month], where plots and ideas are hunted down, subjugated and written down. If I had an idea that this year's badges and icons were going to be as awesome I would have joined in, but alas judging by my to-do list from here on that is a negative, so I joined the ranks of the people doing the IndieWriMo, which is a slimmer version of NaNo with required word count being about 30 000 words. It certainly fits my overall plans for productivity every month and I hope that this commitment irons out some discipline in me.

There are several reasons why I think that this is an amazing idea that the writer community needs for both seasoned authors and newly hatched writerlings. There are two main reasons, which I think I watched on a vlog over at YouTube, but I have deleted the link into oblivion.

1) Writing is more discipline than it is inspiration. In the dream universe [which in my case involves super powers and food torrents] a writer is visited by a muse and via the magical essence called inspiration we accomplish everything. Reality is a lot more crueller and I learned this when my inspiration spurts became less and less frequented and their durability shortened as well. I still loved my idea, but getting it on paper involved no fully formed passages that conveyed what I wanted the way I wanted it. I did the math back then and decided that if I was to wait on my muse alone, I would finish at first draft at my admission day into a retirement home.

Word count is our writing dream's money maker and it has to shake hard and fast and with an intensity. And it has to do so every day or at least 80% of the days a year. During NaNo your money maker has to shake at 1,667 words a day in order to push through the challenge and meet the deadline. This is the discipline that NaNo teaches. If your head does not stop, ever, nagging about ideas then you need to writ every day and if you cannot stop writing ever, then you also need to realize that this is a high priority in your life and discipline plus dedication here fall in the handy skills to have developed.

2) Quantity does not mean quality and quality doesn't give a damn at first draft stage. Quality doesn't even feel that it needs to be present while you type that first draft. That is why it's called a first draft. NaNo forces you to write super fast and unless you are some undercover genius then it makes you suck, but write. By making you realize that a serious writer needs to have big word counts and forcing you to suck, NaNo also tries to make you realize that it's okay to suck so early on. It permits you to suck as long as you are a devoted busy bee. Besides you know already that most books become readable after many revisions and usually the puzzle and intricate details fall in place during those stages, so thanks NaNo for that favor as well. Be Frankenstein. Sew and stitch together gory limbs and body parts unabashed and play plastic surgeon bent on perfect later. It's far more liberating on your psyche and your confidence that way, tacking in the initial inner suckage as something normal and not a deterrent.

Top notch life lessons, I'd say.