Category Archives: Writing Skills

NaNoWriMo 2011

Writing with a broken pencil is…

pointless!

Somewhere along the way I learned that no writing is pointless. I would give a good deal of credit for that to College Professor William Bailey who required every student to keep a daily journal. One sentence per day was the minimum and we were told not to worry about grammar and spelling. He wasn’t going to collect and grade it anyway. I suppose  this would seem pointless, but his objective was to get us used to writing and make writing a somewhat natural activity.

Perhaps the creators of NaNoWriMo were in Professor Bailey’s class. They are sponsoring “thirty days of literary abandon.” In short, participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (November).  That’s an average of 1667 words per day.  Last year 200,000 tried–30,000 succeeded.

And, no, I don’t think any of the 30,000 made the New York Times Best Seller’s List. That’s actually not the point. As the creators of this effort say,

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.

How can you not love that? You write a lot of “crap,” but when it’s over you get to call yourself a novelist.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that last year 1800 K-12 schools participated and not surprised to discover that some participants actually have had their work published.

No, I probably will not be participating this year. But I do love the concept–and note that this doesn’t just apply to writing. Sometimes you just get started “valuing perseverance and enthusiasm over the craft.”

The word for the day is “intensity” and the question is “What could you accomplish in thirty days if you had it?”