Monday, November 1, 2010


It doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? NaNoWriMo definitely sounds more snazzy— that is, National Novel Writing Month, which started today. All over the country, people are sitting down to try and churn out the first 1666 words of their story, and committing to keep up that pace each day this month—for a total of 50,000 words, the length of a short novel. I participated in NaNo last year, and making it to that final word was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had as a writer.

Of course, last November I had no job. This year I have three. Keeping up with my own small writing projects is a challenge in itself. Which is why I’m not going to attempt a second novel this month. It deserves more focus than I’ve got to give.

But the ambition and sheer cheek of the “Wrimos” still inspires me. And so I’m going to attempt my own twist on November this year, in a way that makes more sense with my current practice: rather than trying for 1666 words of a novel per day, I’m going to write a new blog post each day in November.

A different project, to be sure, but blogging and “noveling,” as the Wrimos call it, actually have a bit in common. Tonight I want to talk about one of the most important reasons why: Blogging is public.

NaNo is all about providing motivation and discipline for writers—and nothing inspires motivation like knowing the world is watching. Showing up to the write-ins or telling friends your wordcount invites more people into what is usually a somewhat lonely process. The more people I told about my goal, the more I tried not to disappoint them—and the bigger cheering section I had as I approached the finish line.

This year’s blog takes that “public” nature one step further. Blogs by their very nature are public—most of them are open for anyone on the Internet to see. And compared to working on a private project like a novel, this is a bit more of a risk. Tonight I’m not giving you just a number. I’m giving you words, and inviting you to read them. In comparison, my cheesy fantasy novel (last year’s NaNo) is still sitting under the bed. I haven’t even read it all the way through since I finished. (Cheesy fantasy melodramas are more fun to write than to read, I’ve found.) That isn’t an option this year. Pushing through November isn’t about polished writing, it’s about writing, period. Some of my posts will be rougher than others, and if I commit to this blog, I won’t be able to hide that from you, my audience and my community.

Which freaks me out a bit, not going to lie. But the public design of a blog also has its advantages. Blogs leave room for interaction, for conversation, in a way no other form can. You’ve got a comment box right there in front of you, after all. That takes the isolation out of the writing process, and provides a reason for me to step forward when I would really rather pull a pillow over my head and go to sleep without writing another word.

So, friends, if you care to be my audience/community/hecklers/supporters/peanut gallery this month, I invite you to jump in, and see where this project takes me. Happy November!

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