Changing my behavior has never been an easy task. At times it has been beyond the concept of “turning over a new leaf”. It looked more like up-rooting the entire tree. But that is where I can take it, if left to my own devices for too long without a clear direction. I am working on that aspect of my personality and that leads me to this week’s installment of Multimedia Monday.
We are going to talk about the written word this week, specifically as it relates to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). I know, I know, you may feel like: Eeeeeshh, I can’t write a novel. Well stick with me on this, I do have a point or two to share because I once felt the same way, and still do from time to time.
NaNoWriMo began in July of 1999 in the San Francisco Bay Area when 21 people went on a novel-writing binge together. Founder, Chris Baty, describes it this way: “… I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party. We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it. Which is how the whole thing really got rolling.”
It was 2012 and this blog was less than a year old. I had a desire to improve my writing skills and one day I read about NaNoWriMo. The initials intrigued me and I delved into the article to find out more information. Then, as now, the event takes place during the month of November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That is a 1,667 words/day average. Holy Strokes!
Days turned into weeks and a month went by as I thought about participating in the event. who was I to write a novel, even a short one? Why did I think that I had the story-telling skill required to hold people’s attention for a 6—10 hour period of reading? I was an electrician, for God’s sake, not a writer. If I was a writer I would certainly dress a lot differently for work (ok, maybe not).
A lot of self-doubt, anxiety and fear cropped up whenever I thought about the possibility of writing a lengthy story. One day in late September I made the decision to “act as if”. I wanted to be a Writer, so I told myself, and anyone who asked, that I was a Writer. I put out into the Universe that I was about to participate in writing a 50,00 word novel in 30 days.
Do you know the difference between being committed and being involved? When it comes to a breakfast of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved and the pig is committed.
Back in the day, Volt Daddy shared some wisdom that he garnered as a young USMC recruit in 1965, “Discipline is the state of mind that controls the body.” I would need all the discipline that I could muster if I was going to be committed and accomplish my goal. Forget the leaf, I just turned over the tree.
“It’s hard by the yard, but it’s a cinch by the inch.” —unknown
Fingerprints—a Memoir is what came out of my initial foray into the world of novel writing. It is not a work of fiction, it is a look back at how I got my start as a union electrician and ended up with the best job on the planet. Fingerprints is the result of writing everyday and producing 50,000 words at the end of a month. Not everyone produces a novel during NaNoWriMo and that is ok. The goal is to write everyday. No editing, just write for a month. Don’t look back except to find out where you stopped the day before. Some days I wrote more words than the suggested average and some days I did not. No matter what else was going on, I wrote everyday—on Day Shift and Graveyard Shift—weekends and days off. Thanksgiving Day was spent with family and my new-found discipline helped me plan ahead and get the work done so that I could participate in the festivities.
The Takeaway experience that I received in 2012 was that I opened up a part of myself that enabled me to share my thoughts and emotions with other people. I have felt myself “hardening up” over the past year. Taking/sharing photos is quick and easy for me. Sharing my thoughts and feelings is getting more difficult. I feel that it is time to return to something that has benefited me in the past, 30 days of writing.
I am fully aware that I can start writing for 30 days in a row anytime I choose. I don’t have to wait for November. The funny thing is that in the past 3 years, I haven’t done that even once. I guess that for me, the group participation aspect is a strong motivational force.
This year I have decided to participate in the NaNo challenge for the second time. I will be starting a collection of short stories based on my experiences as a tradesman. The working title is A Piece of Work.
There, I said it. Now I have to do it.
Here is a short video about the benefits of 30-day challenges
Have you participated in any 30-day challenges? What did you learn from them?