Write or Die

By Januschka Veldstra

Few things in life are cooler than being able to say you are a writer. Even fewer things are cooler than being able to back up that claim with at least one novel. Enter NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is an annual, month-long writing adventure. Wrimos – NaNoWriMo participants – start at twelve sharp on the 1st, to finish no later than just before the clock strikes midnight on the 30th of November. By that time, they should have written at least fifty thousand words of anything ranging from prose to perfectly unintelligible crap. If you did manage to make it to 50.000, you win; your prize is eternal glory, and a novel roughly the size of ‘The Great Gatsby’.

One of the most important things to do for winning is switching off your inner editor: The voice in the back of your head telling you maybe you should use a different word, or switch around those sentences, or put in more adjectives, or fewer. The inner editor is every wrimo’s worst nightmare; it’s what kept you from starting in the first place, and it’s determined to keep you from succeeding now. So, naturally, you visualise a little box with a big lock in your mind and stuff that editor in there for the time being.

However, sometimes your inner editor has a point. Maybe when you are writing at top speed the quality of what you create suffers. Throwing everything that crosses your mind onto a screen you feel forever holds too few words. To win does not guarantee the next ‘War and Peace’. Fortunately, that is entirely beside the point! The point is to finally do what so many dream of, and so few actually accomplish: Writing a book.

The best thing is not that you will be able to send off your manuscript to a publisher on 1 December; the best thing is that you will surprise yourself with your inventiveness, persistence and general awesomeness. You may find yourself crying bitter tears of frustration along the way, but if you manage to keep going until you win, you are on top of the world. And then there is always time to edit your work and maybe become the next Rowling, Dostoyevsky or Fitzgerald.

Planning on becoming a more-or-less established writer? Check out www.nanowrimo.org for more information and a great wealth of fun procrastination material, and add me (Jnusch) as a writing buddy!

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