One of the things that I've always wanted to do was write a novel. Of course, I've dabbled with writing for several years, the most significant portion of which has been free verse poetry. (I try to take an imagist tack in the poetry as much as possible, and therefore I avoid meter, rhyme, and other things traditionally considered poetry. Like I said, I am a dabbler.) But, I have not really delved much into prose, except for a couple of ridiculously angsty short stories I tried to write on my own in my early twenties and a handful of short stories I wrote in my creative writing college classes. Therefore, when I came across the NaNoWriMo website, I figured it seemed like a good thing to try. Short for National Novel Writing Month, the NaNoWriMo group encourages everyone to write a novel in a single month and to keep track of their progress on their site. I figured, what the heck, why not give it a shot? As it is completely free, I created a user profile and signed up.

Official NaNoWriMo 2004 Participant

Their basic advice about writing is pretty sound. The thing they say is that the most difficult thing about writing is pounding out the first draft. Having written countless college essays and term papers, I can concur. Many of my composition courses, or training classes to become a composition instructor, have said the same thing. Consequently, emphasizing quantity over quality, NaNoWriMo is encouraging participants to write 50,000 words during November. As I still have a lot of my own work to do (writing several essays for college), I already know that I will fall far, far short of this goal. As with all of my creative writing, I only intend to dabble, which means I will work on this "novel" during slow moments, or when I can't stand to write another academic word. These brief moments of novel writing will be a way of loosening the stiff writing muscles for the heavier work of writing term papers. (I haven't forgotten which side my bread is actually buttered on.)

And I have a past history of doing something similar to this. During my undergraduate days, I would often try to write a poem or two (usually a bad one) before launching into writing a rough draft of an assigned paper. The assigned paper would generally come more quickly and be bit better after doing so. It is roughly analogous to stretching before running a marathon. And that is how my priorities are going to be, the real marathon is not writing a novel, but getting my own work done. The stretching will be the NaNoWriMo project. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

28 October 2004
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