How NaNoWriMo Illuminates Craft.

Two weeks into #NaNoWrimo, I’m feeling the fatigue–not just of writing, but of our recent tumult in Kim’s job loss, and dealing with it accordingly. I took Friday/Saturday off and killed it today, netting over 4200 words, and bringing my running total up to 27,582. This translates into 110 pages of my manuscript thus far with plenty of story still ahead in my notes.

To be clear, this is a fun diversion for ME. I’m not doing it because I have delusions of grandeur in publishing what I’m writing. It’s the first big project I’ve tackled for sheer enjoyment in a craft for which I have a ton of experience as a reader, but not as a writer.

As a result, I’m thinking about the impact this mental workout is having on me. Aside from needing a break late this week, knocking out a bunch of words isn’t difficult for me. There’s absolutely no pressure to hit my daily quota of 1,667 words (6.6 pages a day). But being reflective, I’m thinking about how I cultivated this and will be spending MORE time on this reflection following the event’s conclusion after Thanksgiving. Here’s what I’m thinking about that has some substance:

• I couldn’t do this task if I couldn’t type about as fast as I can think up sentences. Writing this by hand would kill me. Writing this hunt and peck would kill me. Doing this any other way than with my ten fingers flying would kill me. And I’m eternally grateful for the two typing classes I took in high school over twenty years ago. See kids? You DO use your high school education years and years later.
• I wouldn’t be ready for this had I never encountered Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY and learned about her “Morning Pages” routine. Simply put, the first thing you do to start your day is to draft three free written pages as fast as you can. Longhand in a normal notebook. Every day. I did this for the first time about 12 years ago, and have long since migrated the practice to the very admirable Buster Benson’s site 750Words.com. His data visualization is piercing. And the combined practice of typing and MORNING PAGES here on his site are blissful to an aspiring writer.
• I wouldn’t be as trusting in this process of the NaNoWriMo blitzkrieg if I didn’t know and believe in the work of Hungarian professor Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. His theory of “flow” is LEGIT and I’ve thoroughly lost myself in the balance between a high enough level of challenge along with my skills in wordsmithing/storytelling to experience this amazingly satisfying sense of Flow.

Tori McCallister beat me to it with her post (http://goo.gl/S48KLn), but I’m ecstatic to be making these connections, and better understanding my emerging craft as a writer, regardless of whether I end up making money as a novelist or not. I’m an English teacher by trade and NaNoWrimo is helping me shore up theory and practice as a man of letters.

So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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