October 20, 2014

During November, I plan to write every day until I churn out 50,000 words. I will do it along with writers around the world who have set the same goal for themselves.

The official name for this month-long creativity marathon is National Novel Writing Month. Better known as NaNoWriMo, it was founded in 1999 by some would-be novelists from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Last year, organizers counted more than 300,000 global participants. While most were working on novels, the crowd included plenty of sceenwriters, non-fiction writers, all sorts of writers.

In 2011, I nervously took my first shot at NaNoWriMo. To get through the month, I drank a lot of rum while my ancient dog Rosebud slept by my feet. I blogged about it (see the photos! feel the excitement!) but didn’t produce a novel. Then the following year, Rosebud died of complications related to old age.

This November will be different.

I will miss the companionship of my beloved muttsky. Most likely, I’ll miss the rum too. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve stopped drinking in a bid to get fit, as in buns of steel.)

But instead of blabbing about how I want to write this or that like I did in the past, this time, I’m keeping my mouth shut.

For an excellent explanation of the silent strategy, check out Robert’s Rules Of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know.

Here’s how author Robert Masello explains Rule #4, which he calls “Zip the Lip:”

Professional  writers know that the more you talk about something you’re planning to write, the less likely it is that you’ll ever write it. A book is like a hydraulic engine, and the more you talk about it, the more you let out the power that’s needed to make the thing run. All the energy that should be going back into the book is squandered in talk and dissipated in the air.

That’s exactly what happened to me! After NaNoWriMo 2011, I didn’t have a novel, not even close. In 2012, I half-heartedly joined up again, to prove I wasn’t a loser. Then when superstorm Sandy threw the Northeast into chaos, I had a face-saving excuse to bail. By 2013, the idea of writing every day wasn’t on my radar.

As for this November? No guilt. No pressure. Instead, I’m making a commitment to nurturing myself. Who knows where it will go. Best to not talk about it.  :)

Of course, it’s totally possible to do the exact opposite of the silent approach. NaNoWriMo’s website offers writing forums, writing groups and helpful pep talks with experts. You can even post excerpts of your work, if you want.

This time though, I want intimacy. Small moments. Stillness.

Which leads to a question for you…

If you’re also game to do NaNoWriMo and want some company, let’s talk! Not about the actual content of our projects but about our process. What’s it feel like to write every day? That’s the discussion I want to have. It’s the conversation that would inspire me to celebrate.

During November, I’d be honored to upload a weekly NaNoWriMo blog post. It would be a place to check in for a chat and support. Any takers? If so, let me know. If not, wish me luck as I get quiet on my own. :)