Sunday, October 31, 2010

My First NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short, a rather ugly acronym in my opinion, and it is now international). Participants challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel during the month. The purpose is to gain experience and know what it feels like to finish a novel. Of course, not everything people write will be publishable, and that isn't the main point of the exercise. I have decided to treat my first novel as a practice novel and not to expect it to be published.

I have always wanted to write, and have written intermittently for as long as I can remember. Since reading has always been such a central part of my life, I decided as a child that one day I would write books of my own. This blog is part of my practice writing. I have been writing here for over two years now, sometimes every week, sometimes less. I like receiving feedback on my writing, and so far those readers of this blog who have commented on my writing (rather than just on the content of my posts) have been very supportive and encouraging. I have been building up the confidence, self-discipline, and working habits in preparation for November, and have finished off a large work project. I will probably undertake some work during the month, but I hope it won't take up too much of my time and energy.

One problem with my profession is that being a translator uses up similar sorts of energy as writing. I am always thinking in language, trying to find the right words and structures, and evaluating the consistency of what I have written. In some ways, it might be better for aspiring writers to have a non-verbal day job. Still, I have to start somewhere, and I feel ready for this challenge.

I have read two opposing theories regarding sharing your goals in public. The first recommends it, saying that when you commit to something in public, you are more likely to follow through rather than face the shame of failure. It talks about accountability. This seems to be the theory behind communities like NaNoWriMo and various support groups. On the other hand, the second theory says that once you have told people about your plans, your brain already feels like you have achieved them, so you are less likely to feel driven to actualize them. Since writing is a form of story-telling, if I tell someone the story I want to write, I have already engaged in the act of story-telling, albeit in a non-written form. So my intention is to tell people that I'm writing a story, but not discuss the actual details of what I'm writing with anyone.

I'm starting this challenge with full confidence that my experiences this November will change my self-identity forever. I will go from "aspiring writer" to "author of an unpublished novel", which is an achievement by any standards.

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