For many creative writers who have writing lives on the internet, November is a month in which one walks softly and carries a big coffee cup. Why? Because November is when all the challenges come out of hiding, and it’s so hard for a writer to resist. To name just a few:
- NanoWrimo for novelists
- The November chapbook challenge for poets, courtesy of Robert Brewer and his blog, Poetic Asides
- Picture Book Idea Month
- NaBloPoMo for bloggers
And these are just a few of these events.
Each of these events has detractors. And they are often right to point out problems. Some argue that really good writing needs to happen in its own time and under its own steam. Others believe that the process of creation is more important than the goal (whether that goal is a number of poems written or the number words on a page), but that some of these events focus on goals and discourage mindfulness. Some people need to move on – to pass up the “game” feeling and do the serious, ugly work of revising. Still others have tried one of these events and found the month to be frustrating if one has more than one outside responsibility.
So why do any of these things? Last year, I did two of these events simultaneously.One of them was the November chapbook challenge. But the other? That was Nano.
I’ve always said I could never write a novel – I’m a short form gal – and I decided to put my money where my mouth isn’t. I decided to prove myself right by trying to write a novel while taking care of my kid (who has some special needs involving lots of doctors and therapists) and holding down a full time job. And I felt GREAT. I was sleep deprived, and overworked; I got carpal tunnel, and the resulting novel was and is truly lousy. And I still would not trade that month for anything.
What I learned was that, really, when all is said and done, I may not be a novelist, but I love writing. I love the words, I love the turn of phrase, I love the transfer of images from my head onto the page. That recognition – the recognition of one’s self as a writer? That’s priceless.
So will you share with us? You know you’re an artist (a writer, a painter, a sculptor, a director…) or you wouldn’t be here at this blog. Are you participating in any or all of these writing events? What does participating, or not participating, tell you about your own creative heart?