Well today is the day -- November 1st. What does that mean? For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo 2011, you know exactly what that means. It is time to get cracking on your attempt at writing a whole novel in just one month! I love NaNoWriMo (She Writer GRETCHEN RUBIN was the first to tell me about it, years ago, and I'm pretty sure her experience made it into The Happiness Project) mostly because of the energy, optimism and support it generates for writers. I do feel, however, that NaNo is not for everyone, and that what's best about it is not the notion that you will write a whole novel in a month (a draft, perhaps?), but the structure and goal-setting it encourages.
TAYARI JONES, in fact, expressed my feelings about NaNo beautifully last year in one of her Countdown To Publication posts for Silver Sparrow:
I like the idea of the month of November being devoted to novel writing. I love thinking of thousands of people sitting at their computers and notebooks thinking hard. What worries me is the idea that a novel should be finished at the end of that month. Let us devote November to novel writing, but let us focus more on trying to structure the month in such a way to be nurturing to our artist-selves. Maybe you will spend the month just daydreaming. Or someone else will hire a babysitter one afternoon a week to get some quiet time. Someone else will spend the month reading novels in translation. Yet another person may volunteer her month to reading friends' drafts. You get the idea. There is more to writing than just word count. Spend November being a more dedicated artist, whatever that looks like.
But while I love Tayari's idea of nurturing my artist-self in a variety of ways, I have to admit that for me, devoting November to writing every day seems like the best possible way to do it. So this month, I plan to push myself hard to make progress on the novel I'm working on. I certainly won't feel like I've failed if the whole book isn't done on November 30th, but I will feel like I've let myself down if I don't meet my personal goal of writing at least 1000 words (or more!) every day of the week.
With this in mind, I'd like to invite ALL She Writers, whether you are doing NaNoWriMo or writing fiction, nonfiction, blogposts, plays, screenplays, or poetry -- or even if you are working hard on your dissertation, like one academic I met yesterday -- to join me in what I'm calling SheWriMo, or the She Writes November Writing Challenge.
Every day, I will log on and share my writing goals for the day. At the end of the day, I will log back on and report on how I did. It's that simple. But when it comes to something as hard as writing, simple is good.
I hope you will join me today!