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From the Editor:

NaNo again!

By Lazette Gifford
Copyright © 2007 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved


As you read this, I should be once again in the throes of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month -- www.nanowrimo.org ), a wonderful, exciting event for writers.  NaNo isn't for every writer, but for those of us who enjoy it, it's like a month of freedom to just fly and enjoy the act of creative writing without any of the usual strings attached.  I am writing this note five days out from the event, and I'm still not entirely certain what I'm going to write this year.  Usually I'm a little better prepared, but I've been busy with work. 

I've had two negative encounters dealing with NaNo this year.  One was from someone who 'doesn't get it' and even said we did it to mock real writers.  It's plain this person doesn't understand the thrill of 'flying' that NaNo allows.  It's fun -- at least for many people.  However, you have to allow yourself to have fun writing, and some people can't do that.  It's a fear, I think, of appearing unprofessional. Or maybe it's just a fear of enjoying writing, since we all know if you enjoy something, it can't be taken seriously. 

The other person was someone at NaNo itself, who seemed scandalized that people would spend the month of November writing something that they didn't work hard on, and that they had no intention of taking seriously.  It was odd to come across this attitude on the site itself, since the whole point of NaNo has always been to stop taking it all so seriously and let go, just to see what might happen.

I don't think enough people give themselves permission to write just for the joy of writing.  We get so caught up in the worry about what we'll do with the story afterwards that we lose some of the joy of creating a tale just for us to enjoy.  We are our first, and most important, readers.  If we can't please ourselves with stories, it's going to be very hard to please others.

I also fear that too many people think pleasing others comes from the technical side of writing, and they bury themselves in 'the rules' while ignoring the imaginative part.  They get the story idea, but then they worry it to death, often before they get a single letter written.  Instead of trying to see where the story might go, they trouble themselves over the perfect work, what could go wrong, why it might be a cliché, and how they could never write it properly.  These people have forgotten that writers have a wonderful gift called first and second drafts.  The first draft needn't be perfect -- it just needs to be the story you want to tell.  You can fix anything later, as long as you don't get lazy and decide editing is too much work.

Sometimes, it's important to let yourself experiment, and not to worry so much about whether the end results will be a success.  If you don't spread your wings, you'll never know what you can really do.

I am going to fly this year during NaNo.  It's going to be fun!