The last month or so I've been doing something I've often thought of doing but could never follow through on. I'm writing a story. I used to write a bit when I was younger (before hubby and kids took all my time), but I was never able to write more than a few pages. Even though I've always got stories going through my mind, it's been years since I thought about putting any of them down on paper.
But then a friend signed up for NaNoWriMo and mentioned it to me. Here's what they say about their program:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.I guess the idea is to just get the story down and out of you. It was an intriguing idea, and so (too late for nanowrimo) I actually disciplined myself to sit down and start writing this story I'd had going in my mind, triggered by a dream I had.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
My son Paul persists in calling it a book, and I have to keep reminding him that a book implies intent to attempt publication--which I do not have.
But I have been having more fun! The telling of this story has required me to do research, and I've learned tons. I find myself looking at writing much more appreciatively than I have in the past. I'm a voracious reader, so it's fun to analyze not just plot but the writing styles and descriptive abilities. (I'm terrible at description, by the way.) Suddenly the detail that an author like Robert Jordan puts into describing his character's clothing takes on a completely new dimension. It's hard for me. I've always thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, but it's been showing serious holes.
So now I've purchased three books that talk about writing--characters, viewpoint, plot, and structure. And I'm even thinking about taking a creative writing class.
What really led to all this? Some years ago I started writing my personal history, as my church encourages us to do. I realized I could seriously bore my ancestors to death if I wasn't careful, so I decided I should try to become a better writer.
Hopefully it will pay off. Since I won't be around to worry that my great grandchildren use my personal history as a cure for insomnia, that aspect isn't keeping me up nights.
But right now I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time. And I'm learning something while I'm at it. Hey, I figure anything that helps to ward off dementia is a good thing.
Oh, and I've managed to write nearly 70,000 words in a month. Not too shabby for someone who has never been able to write more than a few pages before! Maybe I'll sign up for NaNoWriMo in November.