It’s NanoWriMo again, and every year, I dread the hashtags, the word counts, people cramming sentences into a document with the purpose of feeling accomplished, sharing it with their peers, skipping showers, sleeping with their laptops, playing the role of “The Writer.”
I just don’t get it. It feels too much like The Hare in the Tortoise and The Hare fable. Rushing, speeding, tricking yourself to the finish line. To lose.
If you apply yourself fully only in the month of November, does it make up for the other eleven months that you barely blinked a word out?
Is it done for the rush of it? The adrenaline? The challenge? “How much can I shit out on a page? Ready, set, shit!”
It’s a critical viewpoint, bordering on cynical, I know. I should be praising these writers who show up to the page for NanoWriMo. Afterall, they’re making progress. They’re committing to their work. But I just can’t ignore that there’s something fundamentally wrong with this approach. It’s like treating writing as if it were taxes; something you file once a year (if you’re lucky!). Stressing to get it done, awaiting the big relief once it is. Rid it from your mind until next year.
Writing is a practice, and like any practice, if you don’t use it consistently, you get sloppy.
NanoWriMo is awesome for one reason: it emphasizes the idea that, if you really want to craft a story or a poem or a book in a “short” amount of time, or at all, it’s possible. Because it absolutely is, if you apply yourself, and show up to it more days than you don’t. But books and stories and poems are rarely even readable on the first draft. It takes TIME to develop them, to let things gestate, and become full. One lunar cycle is not enough. Ten lunar cycles is probably not enough. Challenge yourself, yes. Please! A little wisdom from the Tortoise: there’s no need to rush and push out as much as possible, if you are truly dedicated to your craft. Keep steady, keep inspired, and show up regularly. That’s all.