Sunday, October 18, 2009

NaNoWriMo: I Dare You

I Dare You
By Nancy Lichtenstein

Go ahead, I dare you. Sign up for NaNoWriMo and write a novel in a month.

Put aside the fact that it seems like an impossible task…it IS impossible and yet I’ve done it twice, and I have two kids, a full time job, a side career as a freelance writer, and a chronic illness. In fact, it’s precisely because it’s impossible that it’s life changing.

You will see thousands of people sign up for Nanowrimo in the days leading up to November (on the slight chance that you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s National Novel Writing Month, where you pledge to complete the first draft of a 50,000 word fiction manuscript in 30 days; for more information go to Click here). Scores of your friends will sign up for it and get started with the best of intentions, fueled on enthusiasm and big dreams. More than one third of them will drop off in the first couple of days, making excuses and saying they’ll try again next year. By the second week, that number will double. If you make it to the end, it truly is a remarkable achievement.

I’m not patting myself on the back for having done it; every one of you could do it too. All it requires is sitting in front of your keyboard and writing 1,666.67 extra words a day…whether you feel like it or not. There are days when this is easy and other days where you’ll sit there typing stuff like, “I hate this story. I hate these characters. I hate myself. I should have become a dentist—I hate dentists.” (Interludes like this are allowed in the rules as long as the majority of the writing is actually on topic.)

The benefits you get from finishing are countless. It’s a trip of discovery that I want you to experience firsthand, but trust that you’ll come out of it believing in yourself like never before. Before Nanowrimo, I was one of those people who put her dreams on the shelf to be “realistic.” Afterwards, my real life changed.

Completing National Novel Writing Month gave me, a suburban mom, the courage to walk into New York Fashion Week (not the friendliest of climates) like I owned the place, hang out with TV stars and interview top designers; this was a big dream of mine and one I believed would NEVER come true, but after Nanowrimo, it was cake.

There’s still one major dream that hasn’t come true yet—publishing a novel. Last year, I was one of the ones who wimped out. It was the worst year of my life personally and I told myself I just didn’t have it in me to do this on top of everything else I was dealing with.

Now I realize that it wouldn’t have been an added burden, it would have been freeing. What could I have done in the past 12 months if I’d done Nanowrimo first? I don’t know, but this year I’m going to find out. Meet me in the winner’s circle on November 30. Go ahead, do the impossible. I dare you.

Guest blogger Nancy Lichtenstein is a freelance lifestyle writer, music journalist and fashionista. She's a frequent contributor to LA Story, a go-to girl for fashion, music and decorating questions at Associated Content, and a two-time NaNoWriMo winner.

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1 comment:

Frank Ruggiero said...

Sounds like she has it together