NaNoWriMo is in full swing. It started on November 1 and will continue until November 30. If you are not a writer, you may be saying along about now, “What is a NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month. This brainchild of Chris Baty proposes that a person sit down in front of his computer or typewriter, or grab his yellow legal pad on November 1 and write a novel before November 30. While this may cause seasoned novelists to shudder, my experience several years ago with this month-long commitment was liberating and enlightening for several reasons.

First of all, the writing doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written. That mantra did a couple of things for me. It kept me sitting down at my keyboard every morning come hell or high water and writing. I didn’t stop to reread the fabulous words I wrote the day before. I just blindly wrote more fabulous words.

And I wrote. Before the month was over I had over 30,000 words. They weren’t wonderful words, but they were written down and captured words. The goal for the real NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in a month. I didn’t quite make that number.

The story became the main focus, not wonderful me sitting at my keyboard Writing a Novel and Being a Writer. I was writing, not Writing.

The pressure of the month long deadline kept me writing when I might have opted for television or coffee with a friend.

Writing is a solitary effort, so it was  comforting to visualize out across America other dreamers like me sitting at their keyboards or typewriters with the obligatory cup of coffee also trying to find their creative voices.

When the month was over I didn’t have a finished novel in the sense of having a manuscript ready for Prime Time. Getting a novel to that point takes more than one month of frantic activity. But I had a very rough, rough draft that waited like the armature of a large sculpture for me to fill in the spaces and connect the dots.

So good luck and God Bless to all of you out there in NaNoWriMo land, watching your words increase while your month dwindles down to fewer than ten days. Keep up the good work. Maybe you will be the one to say in response to Charlie Rose’s question when you appear on the CBS Morning Show, “I owe it all to Chris Baty and NaNoWriMo.”

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