NaNo NaNo

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This, the writers among you know, is NaNoWriMo. Folks who don’t have a pathological need to conjure words all the time may have heard of National Novel Writing Month, the annual November challenge to write a novel in 30 days.

I tried it three years ago, dove in, and after three days and 6,000 words I declared victory. Then the train crashed.

Here’s part of what I posted a couple of months later:

– – – 

I wrote glowingly of launching into the requirement to write 1,667 words a day in order to finish a 50,000-word novel in one month. It was surprisingly working like a charm.

As soon as I told the world about this, the Muse danced away, laughing.

Once I declared, “I’m doing this,” the creative spark just shut down. It was like reverse accountability: When I announced I’m going to be accountable, something inside said, “Oh yeah? Forget it, I ain’t playing by those rules. You aren’t pushing me that way – I’m taking my story and going home.”

This process has to be between me and me, it seems. If I let the world know what I’m up to, it’s like letting a little steam out, breaking the seal that keeps the pressure cooker cooking. I need to finish the stories, but when I become conscious that it’s pouring out (or let the world in on the secret) then the spell is broken and the spinning plates all clatter to the floor.

(Yep, I just mixed metaphors and made a more flavorful cookie batter than I expected.)

It seems I’m wired in a way where the call to push through the project directly at light speed works beautifully until I notice that I’m pushing through the project directly at light speed, or mention it to other people. It’s like a cartoon character racing off a cliff and walking on air until he looks down, notices that he’s been walking on air, and plunges into the chasm.

– – –

I have learned to be a little easier on myself when my novel(s) go into long droughts. For one thing, I have a half-dozen books full of shorter writings and these daily musings to confirm that yes, I am a writer, writers write, and I am writing. 

What I need to remember — and the train crashes when I forget — is to have fun. Back in November 2019 I was writing about a private detective who discovers he’s somehow lost his memory of the fact that his partner is a 6 1/2 foot high pookha who manifests as a skunk. It was a hoot! And I still want to go back in and finish that story. All I have to do is retrieve the fun I was having.

As my hero liked to say, I have to race off that cliff and, instead of plunging into the chasm, build my wings on the way down so that my heroes and I swoop back into the air just in the nick of time.

If you are on Day 4 of the challenge, good luck! hang in there! and above all, have fun!!!

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of It's Going to Be All Right, Echoes of Freedom Past, Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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