I participate because it’s fun.
Well, maybe not fun to anyone who isn’t a writer. But last year when I began the challenge I discovered that there is something innately satisfying in putting words on paper for the sheer sake of creating quantity over quality. Writers are a neurotic bunch, fretting over every word on a page. Even full-length books and novels have word limits, and in short stories, well, one must be short. Meaning must be condensed in a predefined space, yet not so condensed that there is no pleasure in the process of writing, or reading. NaNoWriMo defies this rule – the challenge tells writers that it is okay to write with reckless abandon, to fill pages with meaningless prose or mangled metaphors. Write until your wrists ache and fingers go numb – go to bed – get up – and repeat. Grammar is thrown out the window, and caution blown away by the wind.
Somehow, tonight I found the time to start the challenge. I’m working on two projects (I want to write 100,000 words): a novel about La Llorona and a collection of contemporary short stories. I had a very extensive set of notes, a well-fleshed outline, and as I wrote from that outline the beginning of a second story emerged. A few hours later I have about 3,000 words on paper spread between two stories, not one.
Without the NaNoFrenzy, the second story would not be born.
Therein lies the magic of this challenge. While a writer must think and, yes, sometimes plan, writers don’t write in their heads. They write on paper, or on keyboards, and until those words emerge on paper there is no writing with which to work. NaNoWriMo forgives us a year spent languishing in our heads and encourages us to write on paper. Somewhere between the head and the fingers, in the heart, art is born.
Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2010. Now get writing!