Across the globe, November has been claimed as the National Novel Writing Month. Not so much a contest as a wigged out, join the crazy party and over commit yourself kind of an event. Like a marathon for writers, if you will. Over 200,000 writers start this race, with only 30,000 or so actually finishing.
Each participant vows to write 50,000 fictional words during the month of November. You can outline and train in advance, but can’t begin writing until November the 1st. You update your word totals as you go along, and the only way to get through is to keep writing. No time for editing or rewriting. Just write, even if you don’t know where your story is heading, you literally make it up as you go along.
So, what is the point? To open up untapped wells of creativity, to finish something that typically takes about a year to do, cramming it into a much smaller window of opportunity, to meet characters you didn’t know before, introduce them to the world, and see where they lead.
It makes no sense, really. It requires too much sitting and thinking. It can be viewed as a waste of time by many. But sometimes a deadline spurs you on to greatness. The sense of “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that” might just carry over well past the November 30th finish line.
The ‘winners,’ once their word counts are verified, receive nothing more than a winner badge for their website. A participation trophy, I suppose.
But, as with any marathon, the journey itself matters as much as crossing the finish line.
The writer’s journey is an odd mix of reasons to celebrate, often outweighed by many more reasons to give up. There is no magic equation to speed up the process. Daily, I wonder if I’m getting closer to a level of success, or if I’m instead making a complete fool of myself.
I guess that’s the beauty of taking a risk. There is no way to find where you land until you leap. And keep leaping, even when it would be easier to quit. Especially if it would be easier to quit.
So, I may be in last place for the moment, but at the end, I might just have a novel in me yet.