The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge is a many-faceted thing. To describe the experience, I found myself needing to mash up some fresh word concotions.
Technically every month is NaNoWriMo for me. I do between 15,000 and 20,000 words per week of fiction writing. Sure, that’s all pure, gunky draft but it’s out there! I owe this word count to dictating my writing rather than handwriting or typing it.
I still really enjoy WriMo communities (stuff like this happens at other times throughout the year as well). Here are five reasons why:
1. Surgency. The phenomenon of channeling collective energy and purpose.
I am a writer who maintains a sense of urgency about my projects. This isn’t because I find it more fun. I would rather be super chill and inspiration-driven, but I never get anywhere that way! A decade went by that way, with tons of random snippets and no finished products. What I get from NaNoWriMo is a nice surge to that urgency I already work under. It’s a power boost to be connected to half a million other people who are doing this at the same time.
2. Schmeditor. As in, editor, schmeditor.
When you engage in NaNoWriMo, you have not just permission to turn the volume of your internal editor to zero, you’re pretty much required to in order to meet word count (about 1700+ words per day depending on whether you write every day or not). It’s beautiful. You just draft, draft, draft. I actually like having some kind of plan: my outline, worldbuilding, character arcs, and other guides. But within those guidelines, anything goes!
3. Ditherslayer. What one becomes once empowered to bridge brain chasms and writer’s block through sheer will.
Writing a draft under a time constraint is different than hobby-horsing one’s words in La-La Land. Achieving huge daily word counts is largely a game of non-deliberation, of pushing through brain pauses when you don’t want to. A hundred if not a thousand times a day! The idea behind NaNoWriMo is that deliberation is reserved for a later editing phase.
Here’s one way I force myself to not word-dither. I reference some external thing around me and babble about it, then try to apply it as an analogy or even a literal aspect of my story. This external thing might be a vista or a tree or a person approaching me with judgment that I can’t be in the wild without my cell phone (pssst, it’s not my cell phone, it’s my digital recorder, because I dictate while I’m out on walks). Half the time I throw these paragraphs out (but hey, it got me flowing again, so no waste!), and the other half of the time I’m surprised how well a random image expands what I was trying to convey at that point in the story. It’s a back-door approach to one’s own subconscious intentions!
4. Adrenalien. The alternate intelligent life-form one becomes during NaNoWriMo.
While most NaNoWriMo time is spent gutting my way through at a laborious chug, I also reach these pockets of adrenaline available only to those who cram tons of word production in too little time and space. My thoughts spill out from a place other than me, or again, my subconscious. My words might as well be channeled from alien intelligence, they surprise me that much. Becoming an adrenalien. It’s a thing.
5. Snick- or-Snack. A representation of how NaNoWriMo is enough of a mental stretch that things not all that funny will begin to seem wildly funny.
‘Snick-or-snack’ is not a funny phrase, but this is the whimsical interpretation my dictation software produces when I slip while recording my verbal storytelling on unpaved trails. I skid fairly often because I need to get shoes with better tread. I am not sure if the dictation software I play my recordings into later is interpreting both the skid sound and my loud “nuhuhuh-accck!” cry of surprise–and this happens often enough that I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore. I hear the noise and run over to my computer to see it type out ‘Snick-or-Snack’ once again. It shouldn’t be that rewarding. But I smile like a completely validated geek, that it did it again. Because I’m losing it. Even with the power boost of dictation, drafting high word counts like this is a bit cray cray. But again, I choose this craziness as a constant condition of my life because you have to know yourself. I thrive on the ridiculousness of it.
Like ‘Adrenalien’, ‘Snick-or-Snack’ also signifies a kind of congratulations, that I once again achieved getting so lost in my imaginary world that I couldn’t walk right.
I hope everyone else is having a great NaNoWriMo weekend! I’m up to 47,000 words as of today, so I’m in the home stretch!