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IWSG: The Siren Call of NaNoWriMo

November 5, 2014

Participant-2014-Web-BannerWait. IWSG? And NaNoWriMo?

I know you’re staring at your screen thinking, “What’s with all the acronyms? She’s really lost it now. Things haven’t been the same at A Scenic Route since the A to Z challenge.

Let me explain.InsecureWritersSupportGroup

I’ll start with the IWSG, short for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We’re a bunch of writers, three hundred and counting, who meet on the first Wednesday of every month to discuss our fears and doubts without worries about appearing foolish or weak. Want to join us? Click the linky to be whisked to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh’s site, where you can add your name to some of the nicest writers you’ll ever meet on the worldwide web.

Now about this NaNoWriMo thing. You might have heard of it: Fifty thousand words, one month, lots of coffee? So why would an insecure writer like me undertake such a monumental challenge, not just once but every single year?

I’ll tell you why.

Image courtesy of 'Winner' at StockFresh.comFirst off, there’s literary abandon. At last I can set aside the burden of wondering if what I’m writing has any merit whatsoever. I don’t have to edit; I don’t have to debate whether my structure works or not; I don’t have to vacillate about whether my characters have any business being in my story. I’m free to experiment and I’m free to turn back around and try something different. All that matters is that I keep adding to the almighty word count.

Second let’s talk about camaraderie. National Novel Writing Month seems to have become an annual rite for all writers who have ever considered trying their hand at writing a novel, from beginners to multi-published authors. Here we have a chance to work side by side, at least in a virtual sense, on a crazy project that is equally intimidating to all but the most seasoned storytellers. Together we share the challenge of getting words on the screen. What a boost it is for me to be just another nervous writer, instead of working away on my own as self-doubt perches on my shoulder, pecking at my self-esteem with every opportunity.Image courtesy of 'Winner' at StockFresh.com

And, this might sound odd in a challenge where the daily word quota is 1667 words, but stopping and calling it a day is really encouraging for an insecure writer like me. I suffer from the uncontrollable urge to compare myself with other writers, so looking at my word count and seeing that it measures up is a huge boost for my confidence. Image courtesy of 'magicmarie' @ stock.xchng

Or it could also boil down to the simple fact that writing at this pace leaves no time to be insecure! Falling into bed exhausted, and doing it all over again the next day is a great way to stop worrying about whether my story is any good and just letting it flow onto the page the way it wants to.

I know there are doubters out there— writers who claim that careful outlining and meticulous wordsmithing are the only way to write a novel worthy of publication. Perhaps that is true, but my contention is that there are many ways to write a story, and drafting at this speed is an incredible rush for me. Just look at my word count and you’ll see: I’m soaring.

How about you? Does NaNoWriMo make you more secure about your writing? Or are you a fan of more leisurely story crafting?

Test tube and book images courtesy of ‘Winner’ at StockFresh.com, clock image courtesy of ‘magicmarie’ @ stock.xchng

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29 Comments
  1. November 5, 2014 6:23 am

    I love NaNo. I did my first one in 2013. I then did Camp NaNo April & July 2014. I won the last two, but the 50000 still eludes. I am not a fast writer. I signed Nov 2014, but have not put any words on page yet, but I will keep at to try to get something. I probably won’t win this year either, but it does inspire me. It also encourages me to “try” to push myself. It’s fun and I am accountable to no one, but myself really. The goal is to word and if you make that word count Wahoo!.

    I enjoy your post.
    Juneta at Writer’s Gambit

    • November 5, 2014 6:56 pm

      Thanks, Juneta!
      I think I might be a fast writer … but a slow reviser. I’m glad you’ve joined the fun at NaNo, and challenging yourself is what it’s all about. 🙂

  2. November 5, 2014 6:59 am

    When you’re writing that much, you are too busy to be worried!

    • November 5, 2014 6:57 pm

      Exactly, Alex! I’ve made a lot of progress– both in word count and confidence at NaNo. 🙂

  3. November 5, 2014 7:11 am

    I’ve never done NaNo, Kirsten, and I have nothing bad to say about it. In my current lifestyle- day-job dilettante- I’m the complete opposite of the way NaNo works. I’m not even comfortable committing to a publication schedule with my new micro-publisher (Kat), though I know full well that self-setting those deadlines was the only reason I published before our agreement. I’m just so ridiculously deliberate AND I write so infrequently- weeks off at a time, and then when the wheels start again it has to be THIS chapter, only from THAT PoV, no exceptions.
    I feel sure that if I won the lotto and could take full time to chronicle, I would try NaNo in a heartbeat just to see how it changed me. Probably improve me, no question in terms of output I’d do better. But I’m on a not-broke jag (given my professional goals are so modest), so not until then I’m guessing. But you go, girl.

    • November 5, 2014 7:00 pm

      I like that: Day-job dilettante! (Although having published as much as you have probably makes you more than a mere dilettante. 🙂 )
      NaNo is certainly not for everyone, but for me it has prodded me to write faster and more freely. I absolutely adore taking part in this mad dash to a finished draft. 🙂

  4. November 5, 2014 7:44 am

    I’ve never done NaNoWriMo — too many other obligations, but I’m hoping to try Camp NaNo next year. Good luck with your goals! Write on!

    • November 5, 2014 7:02 pm

      Thanks, Lori! I’m glad there are so many more noveling events available throughout the year now since November seems to be a non starter for some folks.

  5. woolda1 permalink
    November 5, 2014 8:23 am

    Every now and then I nearly nano but still haven’t taken the plunge, this year I decided I had too much else going on. Good luck with your goals 🙂

    • November 5, 2014 7:03 pm

      Thanks, Angela! It’s a scary commitment to make, but it’s fun because we’re not alone in giving it a shot. 🙂

  6. Loni Townsend permalink
    November 5, 2014 8:49 am

    I’m a NaNo participant! I added you as a buddy. 🙂

    I debated whether or not to do it this year because I struggled so much last year. I’m happy I joined. The words have started rolling and it’s so freeing! Like you, NaNo gives me a much needed confidence boost. My family even toasted to a successful month hours before it began.

    Best of luck with your writing. Keep on rocking it!

    • November 5, 2014 7:07 pm

      Yay! I found you over there and, wow, you are kicking some NaNoWriMo butt this year! I love just writing for word count, and every year I think I should skip it but end up doing it anyway. 🙂

  7. November 5, 2014 8:52 am

    I’ve never really considered NANO due to time (and other constraints) but, the more I think about it, NANO could be a really good chance to blow out the cobwebs, just write, and throw caution to the winds! May the winds find your words, Kirsten!

    • November 5, 2014 7:10 pm

      Absolutely, Nancy! It is so liberating to let the screen fill with words and not be allowed to look back at them. And it’s amazing how much really usable stuff comes out despite all that literary abandon.
      Speaking of words, I should really write some today … (aaack!!)

  8. November 5, 2014 10:37 am

    Rock it, Kirsten! You obviously have figured out tangible, positive benefits of this worthwhile venture, and I hope each day brings you that satisfaction. I imagine it must feel like a giant team, each pulling your weight and knowing that your accomplishment is part of the success for others. Someone is reading your words and thinking, “If Kirsten can take this on, so can I.” You might never known if you’ve launched a budding bestseller’s career in addition to your own!

    You are an amazing wordsmith!

    • November 5, 2014 7:12 pm

      Aww, thanks Sammy. 🙂 I would love to think that I’ve inspired someone to take up writing stories, even if it’s just for the fun of it. More books to read can only be a good thing!

  9. dksalerni permalink
    November 5, 2014 11:01 am

    You make a good point. I struggle so much through every first draft that maybe it would be different if I just blew through one at superspeed without caring. It won’t be this year, since I’m expecting an edit letter any day now (any day for months and months, but that’s a different insecurity). Maybe one of these Novembers I’ll try it!

    • November 5, 2014 7:17 pm

      What always surprises me is that some good stuff lands on the page/screen when I’m tearing through a draft at superspeed. Seeing that happen has a way of reinforcing my faith in myself as a ‘writer’. 🙂

  10. November 5, 2014 7:47 pm

    Nano is awesome for the literary abandon. Last year I even outlined, but I haven’t so much as read my last year’s novel once in a year. This year, I’m finishing a draft in my P&P world and it is so fun. Also, I love the stats you get and seeing my buddies progress. You are so right!

    • November 5, 2014 7:53 pm

      I admit that I’ve only glanced at last year’s NaNo too. I liked what I saw, but I’ve got a plateful of revisions already! So this one’s just for fun. Again … 🙂

  11. November 5, 2014 8:24 pm

    I haven’t done NaNo. Mainly because I always seem to be in the middle of a project by the time November hits, but I think it’s great motivation. Good luck!

    • November 8, 2014 3:54 pm

      Hi Cherie,
      Thanks and welcome to A Scenic Route!
      Lots of writers work on whatever project they’ve got going. They call themselves NaNo Rebels! I’ve done that too actually, and it worked out great. 🙂

  12. November 6, 2014 10:04 am

    I don’t NaNo, but I’ve been trying to go easier on myself and push through my initial draft without being so picky. I have made progress. 🙂

    • November 8, 2014 3:55 pm

      Doing NaNo taught me exactly that, and I can push through drafts (even blog posts) just to get things down much faster now.
      It’s the editing that kills me.
      I’m glad you’re making progress! 🙂

  13. November 6, 2014 9:21 pm

    I love the literary abandon of NaNo. It’s my favorite part. If there weren’t for the wild way I write at NaNo, I’d never get anything done. Though, I admit, I have a hard time applying that sort of wonderful crazy to my writing for the rest of the year.

    • November 8, 2014 3:58 pm

      Lots of writers, including me, swear by NaNoWriMo. Although I’m one of those writers who loved it so much that I kept right on going! (maybe cutting back on the word count a bit but I’m all about the literary abandon. 😉 )

  14. November 11, 2014 8:03 pm

    I’ve never done Nano, and unfortunately I don’t think I will for some time because of scheduling conflicts.

    • November 15, 2014 4:00 pm

      Hi Gina,
      Fortunately, the folks at NaNoWriMo now offer alternative months to explore literary madness! That said though, it’s not for everyone. 🙂

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