Planned Spontaneity – NANoWriMo 2010

 Being spontaneous is not always as easy as it sounds. There can be so many ramifications from being spontaneous, so many consequences. I plan ahead for it so that other responsibilities are not neglected or at least if they are neglected, I have set expectations appropriately.I’m a firm believer in Planned Spontaneity. 

Some might argue that this is not spontaneous at all, and perhaps they are right. For me to go off and enjoy something fully, I must know that that once it is over, my world has not crumbled in my absence. I can’t enjoy the time unless I do. Thus, I plan. What am I planning for? 

November is NaNoWriMo. 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.

The concept is liberating.


NaNoWriMo_Bernstein_Flyer “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.”  

It’s a license to write ‘crap’ and ‘lower expectations’. It’s a time to just create for the sake of creating. It’s a month where I will not worry one iota about mixing tenses, grammar or paragraph breaks. After it is over, I can edit and scavenge it for useful parts to use in my other work.

It’s got to be a new novel, not one you have in progress. That’s a hard and fast rule and I like that. I’m much too vested in my current novel to be wanton about the approach. My own expectations are too high for it. But a new novel I can take risks with. I can go off in stupid dead-end directions without clear premise or even any idea of how I will make it relevant.

Why is NaNoWriMo only for one month? This forces the writer to produce. The glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you think, write and read. It changes, a little bit, your sense of self. I like that.

My family has been warned. Vacation time has been scheduled at work. My current projects have deadlines before November 1, or after January 1. I’m registered on the NaNoWriMo site, and my word count is 0. In November, I will be bonded with over 100,000 other authors with the same goal and I will be inspired by them in the same way a runner is inspired by those around him who run a marathon together. I may stumble or fall along the way, but I will get up. One foot in front of the other, I will write crap.


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