By now you might have heard the buzz about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where thousands of everyday people take the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. Sounds a little insane, writing nearly 2,000 words a day, every day, for 30 days straight. But many do and even live to tell the tale, or better yet, their tale lives beyond those thirty days in the form of a published novel. One such fearless writer is Michelle Gregory. She offered to share her NaNoWriMo story with us. Here's Michelle:
For thirty years, I was a fiction writer who avoided writing. I read about writing, wrote in a journal, shared family stories in scrapbooks, and blogged. Deep inside, though, I knew I was a writer, and I almost didn’t give that part of myself a chance to be heard.
That changed in 2005 when I read a little book called No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty.
Mr. Baty is a man who came up with the crazy notion that all it takes to write a novel is to write it. The catch is that you write it in 30 days. His reasoning is that if you write it that fast, you have to turn off your internal critic and just write. Of course, writing it that fast means that you have to lower your expectations from “this will be the next bestseller” to “this will not make someone throw up.” On the other hand, if you don’t write anything, you’ll end up being the “one day novelist” – as in “I’ll write a novel one day.”
In October 2005, I visited Mr. Baty’s website and read about his contest, known as National Novel Writing Month. The thought of writing 50,000 words in 30 days was staggering, but I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo anyway, just to see if I could do it. I could have done it any month, but November is the official month of NaNoWriMo, and there was something exhilarating knowing that I would be furiously typing 1700 words a day with thousands of other people around the world.
As I subjected myself to neck cramps, bleary eyes, and possible carpal tunnel, I learned that the story in my head was frantic to get out (I guess it had been in my head for too long). By day three, I had 9,000 words. By day 17 I had 53,000 words, and the story was only half-finished. I stopped and realized that I had not written the story that I really wanted to tell. But I had written something, and I had proved to myself that I had a story in me.
To pursue my dream, I had to give up time with my children, time with my husband, and time with friends. I put aside nagging household projects, and did only the minimum to keep my house running.
Would I do it again? Yes, because it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed up to go through the 50,000 word frenzy again this year. In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is a great way to discover the writer who may be hiding inside. You could join me and find out if there’s a writer inside of you.
Michelle Gregory and her husband of twenty-one years reside in Mesa, Arizona. Amidst the craziness of homeschooling three children and taking care of four dogs and fluctuating numbers of fish, she finished her NaNo novel – Eldala. It is now available at Amazon.com. When she isn’t writing, she also enjoys blogging, playing with her kids, watching chick movies, working on her scrapbooks, and reading a good book. You can visit her blog at Life in the Midst of Writing.