After hearing about it on Twitter a few times and mentioning that I was thinking about doing it, I officially signed up for National Novel Writing Month last night.
Basically, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, with quantity being more important than quality. That amounts to about 1,700 words a day for 30 days. I imagine I will have days when I don’t reach that count at all, and days when I far exceed it.
I don’t think writing 50,000 words is going to be a challenge for me, the challenge for me will be trying to write fiction again and trying to write a long story instead of several short ones.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written fiction that was complete. In high school I wrote several short stories and I still think about them, one in particular that I wrote in Grade 11. Before I took journalism and before I trained my brain to write in these entirely different ways, and before I joined the work-a-day world, I could easily write fiction. It was my preferred form.My favourite assignments were the ones that called for us to mimic an author’s style. Despite hating The Old Man and the Sea with every fibre of my being, I was very good at mimicking Hemingway’s style – short, choppy sentences. Maybe that’s why I did so well in journalism school.
Since I started journalism school all of my writing has been non-fiction, either for work or in my journals. When I sit down with my notebook and pen (which is still my preferred method of writing as I love the feeling of a pen gliding across paper) what flows is generally about my life and my feelings and is just downright honest. For a while I felt as though I had lost all my ideas. Now I have ideas, and I jot them down, and I try to build stories around these characters, and I get no further than a few pages or even just a couple of sentences.
Writing never used to be this hard.
It’s as though there’s too much other stuff in my brain for all the creative stuff to get to the top of my thoughts.
I hope that the result of NaNoWriMo is that my brain kick-starts. That I am reminded how much I love writing, how much I love creating, and how good I am at it. While my confidence is generally low, I do believe I am a good writer, and I’ve had enough people agree with that assessment that I am comfortable saying it out loud. I hope that I get over this hump.
I don’t really care whether what I get out of NaNoWriMo is any good – I just want it to be an exercise in the craft, in reminding my brain everyday that it needs to be thinking in the fictional, that I want to learn these characters that I’ve started building up over and over again, and that eventually – maybe during next year’s NaNoWriMo, or another one further down the road – I will write a novel and it will be good.