Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Every Writer’s Cure

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): Every Writer’s Cure
By Sera Rivers

Walking Sleep; throbbing eyes; anxious fingers – these are the symptoms of NaNoWriMo.

Don’t worry. There is a cure: November 30th.

Every autumn, exhilaration builds as I anticipate November 1st. I don’t know why, but the thought of writing 50k words in a mere 30 days is the greatest thrill I have ever encountered. I have successfully completed two NaNoWriMos, and cannot wait for this year’s to begin.

It is a love/hate relationship for me, but well worth the lack of sleep and pressure I force upon myself. The first year I joined just for fun. The book I wrote still sits on my hard drive. I was just testing my ability.

Last year, I wrote the first 54k of my memoir in November and completed the manuscript just three months later.

I have been revising my memoir all year. I often question the point of NaNoWriMo. Sure, I threw a plethora of words onto my computer screen; but I wonder: is the amount of work to perfect my haste worthwhile? Absolutely. There is certain honesty to throwing a story down on paper in a panicked surge. With a clock ticking away (how short of a month November is), there is no time for writer’s block, that perfect word, or layered characters.

The story must be written, skeletal, but written nonetheless.

The book I will write this year will detail my journey through the special education world to find a proper diagnosis for my son. I have written a rough draft of the back-story five years ago. I now want to incorporate what I’ve written with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to create a finished manuscript. My work in child advocacy and my shared story on my website, Diagnosing Parents Rights.com, has put the book in demand. While, I will not be able to “count” the words already written, NaNoWriMo will force me to complete the manuscript.

With two years under my belt, I believe myself to be a NaNoWriMo expert. I know what to avoid and what to embrace. The past two years were tricky for me because I worked fulltime. With much discipline – waking up earlier and staying up later to write (I calculated a minimum of 1668 words a day to win), I was able to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge. This year, I have time in my favor.

Thanks to the wonderful world of “unemployment,” I can methodically plot my daily writing assignments. I have outlined the book so I will stay on track. My next step will be to gather research material to have on hand for reference.


I better hurry. Time is drawing near.

NaNoWriMo is the trickiest game to play. It loves to throw life at me, despite my plans to do nothing but snuggle by the fire and write. NaNoWriMo has discovered the art of maneuvering time. Where does it go? Who gets to play with it? I remind myself that I must dodge rush hour traffic, avoid lengthy appointments and climb out of domestic duties. In order to defeat NaNoWriMo, I must contort, contract and crawl through small windows of time.

Ahh, NaNoWriMo. I live for the ecstasy. I live for the agony. Just 30 days of the year dedicated to nothing but words. It is a writer’s spiritual retreat. Some people fast; some people meditate; others journey to the highest or deepest parts of the earth; my spiritual journey begins each year with NaNoWriMo. It forces a new project for the forthcoming year.

Writers, I urge you, spend 30 days of your lives feeling nothing but nausea, insomnia, and utter desapir. Join me for NaNoWriMo. Write. Write. Write!

I hope to see you at the finish line.

Sera Rivers is a writer, creative writing instructor, and child advocate. Writing credits include the Chicopee Special Needs Kids Examiner and Southwoods Literary Magazine. Sera is in the midst of editing her memoir, Don’t You Want Me? - a powerful story about her experiences growing up in a fanatically religious household, which led to her unhealthy patterns with men and a search for her true beliefs in God.

Learn more about Ms. Rivers via her websites:

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Or contact her at: writeloudly@me.com

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1 comment:

sapheyerblu said...

I'm also doing NaNo again this year. This will be my 4th year, and I've got my story pretty much outlined. I've got my main characters figured out, and even have my plot somewhat in mind. I don't want to get too carried away though, as I always let my characters drive the story from one scene to the next. I'm very excited about this year's NaNo.