Thursday, November 04, 2010

November Writing Madness

If you're a writer, you probably know that November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The 30 days of insanity where writers of all ages, some for the first time, others multi-published authors, type their fingers to the bone to get 50,000 words on the page in one insane month.

I don't do NaNo.  Not for any reason other than it's not my process, and to twist myself in knots to write at that pace would defeat the entire spirit of NaNo which is to circumvent your internal editor and get to that 'crappy first draft', while having a bit of fun. 

I know myself well enough to know that NaNo would increase my anxiety to a point where I would feel like a failure.  Even if I did manage to write 50K in 30 days, I don't think I could make order out of that chaos.  My brain just doesn't do that.  (My most productive first draft was about 65K in 12 weeks, and although the result was a solid draft of "Future Tense," that pace was brutal on my body and resulted in some serious neck and arm problems that took another 6 months to resolve.)

However, I am no NaNo naysayer.  (Hey--look at that alliteration!) Many of my writing peeps do NaNo and I cheer them on from the sidelines.  I think it's super that they even have teens doing NaNo.  I love, love, love to see kids get passionate about writing.

If you want to see a lovely rebuttal to some of the snobbery around NaNo (and, boy, is there a lot of it), Dave Fenton (whose twitter feed is quite remarkable) links to this from the LA Times. 

So, even though I don't participate in NaNo, I do like challenges, so I'm playing with a different kind of writing madness in November.  Robert Lee Brewers November Poem a Day chapbook challenge.

It's been interesting in that I'm not writing any complete poems.  Rather in the spirit of NaNo, I'm letting my morning pages lead to 'crappy first drafts' of poems.  I've committed to just getting the words down and waiting until December to attempt to forge them into fully realized poems. 

There is something quite freeing in not worrying about craft at this stage.  Some interesting images and motifs are showing up, even without my intent.  So tricky, our subconscious minds.

I'll share some of the process of morning pages to first draft through revisions on the blog next month.

For now, happy writing, all.

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