Do you hear that? A mix of jungle drums and Jaws music, equal parts menace and madness? It starts every October, in your fingers as a tingle, travels up your arms, into your belly, and washes over your five senses like hot lava from Krakatoa.You try to fight it, act like there’s nothing wrong, but that only makes it worse. It’s as contagious as typhoid, as addictive as smoking, and as lethal to your well-planned life as a canyon wildfire. Your brain becomes a suggestion box rather than the finely-tuned instrument that speeds you through your day like the Tokyo bullet train. Now, everything is weighed against writing.
“I’ll go to the movies if I write a thousand more words…”
If it was a pet, it’d be a coral snake. If it was a vacation, it would be hell.
It’s called NaNoWriMo. Every November, over 300,000 people join together online with a personal goal of each writing a 50,000-word novel in one month.It has been variously called “worse than a rampant computer virus” and “better than a long walk without a shadow”. It has either the charm of a dirty needle or the excitement of a new love. Once you catch the bug, nothing can cure you. Luckily, it ends November 30th at midnight. Then, you can breathe without gasping, eat without shoveling, and talk without typing.
On November 1st, it’s an invasion and your body has been well and truly snatched. All you can think about is writing.
It doesn’t matter if you work as a retail clerk or the CEO of a billion dollar company. No one is exempt and no doctor can make it go away. In fact, the only cure is to write–scribble, type, claw, bleed–until you’ve beaten back that thirst, drowned it in words, filled your soul with a new story. Only then can you put down your pencil and move away from the notebook.
As frightening as this sounds, there are reasons you might want to participate:
- The act of writing lessens the sense of panic that you will never get your plot figured out.
- It keeps you out of therapy.
- If your characters have the depth of a stick figure (I stole that line from my friend, Marla Miller‘s Deadly Little Secrets–great book, btw), take a month to fix them.
- How hard can it be to write? Hemingway did it. Anonymous did it. A bunch of authors do it who aren’t even alive anymore (I won’t name names).
- Coffee helps. Anything that goes with coffee is worth doing.
- You can skip the house cleaning. You won’t have time.
- There’s a certain peace to knowing what you’ll be doing for a month.
- There’s a beauty to being able to turn hope to despair, idealists into Machievellians, all with the clack of computer keys and a few thousand well-chosen words
- You don’t have to write a prize-winning book. You just have to write 50,000 words. How hard can that be?
- There are hundreds of reason why your mother is right–you are the best writer on the planet–but finishing your novel isn’t one of them. NaNoWriMo will make you finish your novel.
- Remember the last time you read a really bad book, and knew like you know bow ties should all be clip-ons that you could do better than that published author? Here’s your chance.
More on NaNoWriMo:
Jacqui Murray is the author of dozens of books (on technology in education) as well as the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.