Writing street cred

Sunday, October 14, 2012 Permalink

I’m thinking of doing NaNoWriMo.

I’ve done it before. Not successfully of course. But I did attempt it. And… it occurs to me that now is the perfect time to embark upon it again.

For those not-in-the-know or thinking I’m speaking about martial arts or black magic, rest assured… I’m really not that edgy. 

NaNoWriMo, is the National Novel Writing Month initiative which started back in 1999 (in the US) and has apparently become the world’s largest writing event and nonprofit literary ‘crusade’.

Basically it involves participants committing to write 50,000 words during the month of November. But not just any words in case you’re picturing Bart Simpson at the blackboard writing, ‘I will not swear’ 12,500 times. Like the name says, it’s about writing a novel. From scratch. (Not to mention raising funds for creative writing programs in 100+ countries!)

Although… one hardly signs over a firstborn child to participate and your computer isn’t hacked to confirm the word count (well…. at least I don’t think it is…..). It relies on participants’ honesty and – quite frankly – is one of those challenges that is more about the participant getting something out of it than ‘the prize’. Cos, well… there is no prize.

I mean, you can put a nifty little badge on your blog or website or wear a t-shirt that says you achieved it. But, well… meh.

It’s more about that smug feeling of knowing you achieved something others didn’t setting a goal and working towards it with the support of a worldwide community. It’s about winning that hard-fought-battle. Or something. Or if you are the lucky one-in-fifty-gazillion wannabe authors with a skerrick of talent; it may be about the first draft of something that is one day published and read by people other than your mother or partner.

I’ve talked before about ‘why I blog‘. I like to write, I say. And it’s true. I am (ahem) quite verbose. (In case you hadn’t noticed!) I most definitely like to hear myself speak, but I like writing even more than I like talking. I love putting words together. I love thinking about how words fit together, about how you need to add and subtract syllables to balance a sentence or make a point.

I’m auditory thinker. I’m not visual. I don’t appreciate pretty things in the way I could and should. When I go to the ballet I’m frustrated by the lack of active storytelling. I like to listen, not just watch.

I tried NaNoWriMo a few years ago and think I got about 10,000 words down on paper (or screen, as the case may be). And that effort involved starting several different novels in an attempt to find something which ‘hooked’ me.

So, quite frankly, I really don’t think I have a novel in me.

I enrolled in a Year of the Novel course through my local Writers’ Centre two or three years ago and got 30,000 words into my young adult novel before losing interest.

“Do it,” some friends have said when I’ve mentioned that I’m thinking about NaNoWriMo-ing.

And you know what – I’m keen. The time is right. I’m about to move to the beach to start my new life which – for a few months anyway – will involve not-working. The planets and stars are aligning perfectly for me to churn out 50,000 words over the month of November. It will give me some sense of purpose as I try to settle into my (albeit brief) not-working life.

But… I have NO IDEA. And while it’s true that I am clueless in general, in this case I mean I have no friggin’ plot idea in my head.

Vampires, wizards, rich businessmen into S&M. Meh. Been there, done that.

I enjoy reading crime novels, but can’t imagine writing one. I like Jane Austen and Anita Brookner but am far from a stylistic writer.

There’s just nothing there: no spark of an idea. Something – surely – pivotal when planning to write a novel.

So, why am I not content with churning out 50,000 words between my two blogs over the month (despite the fear of boring my readers to death with the inanity of my life).

I think that – although I talk about wanting to be a blogger when I grow up – I cannot help but think that bloggers are multiplying – and I am merely a grain of sand wallowing at the bottom of a vast sea of those with something to say and a platform via which to say it.

Do I think that attempting a novel, rather than a ‘how-t0’ eBook or continuing with the monotonous musings of my day will set me apart from others? Perhaps. Until, of course, I realise there are also a gazillion people with manuscripts in their desk drawer… waiting for their big break.

The term blogger (as opposed to writer) has never bothered me. But… here I am, thinking about labels and how I’m perceived (by myself and others). I can hardly call myself a writer. I haven’t been published. In fact, I’m yet to be brave enough to submit my writing to ANYONE or share it other than via my blogs.

It brings me back to the ‘why I blog’ question. I say I do it because I love writing. But I also say I do it because I have ‘thoughts’ in my head which I need to rid myself of – and I do that via my blogs, sharing my insightful musings with the world at large (well, my paltry team of readers!).

This post was written before ProBlogger’s Training Event in Melbourne. It has – of course – given me more to ponder on and I’m fairly sure I’ll be writing more about that in coming days and weeks.


Are you a blogger; or are you a writer? Do you think it matters?
Would you still be writing if blogs didn’t exist? What would you be writing?

  • Jo Tracey
    October 14, 2012

    I’ve done NANOWRIMO twice before & managed the 50,000 words. That first one was a load of semi autobiographical horseshite that will never see the light of day but that I had to allow to spew out of me. And spew it did. Once it was out of me, other ideas slammed in. Year no 2 followed which, 12 months later is a credible 2nd draft & grown to chick lit length of 85000 words. I’ll be doing it again this year. I like the self imposed discipline.

    We really MUST skype when you’re back. drop me a mail at jotracey@bigpond.net.au….

    • Debbish
      October 14, 2012

      Will email re skyping!

      And yes, I like the discipline idea as well!


  • Jo Tracey
    October 14, 2012

    Oh, and in answer to your question? I’m a blogger because I write. My aim is to use my blog/s as a social platform for my writing & the astro one (in particular) as a vehicle for ebooks.

  • Trish
    October 14, 2012

    I’ve always been a writer, but the medium has changed. As a child I wrote letters and stories, as a teenager I wrote in a journal (I still have it and yes, it’s angst-ridden and cringe-worthy), as a new mother I wrote a diary to record every minute detail, even the awful moments. And then in 2004 I discovered blogging, and have been a blogger ever since. My NaNo attempts in 2010 and 2011 have produced a single 105K word manuscript that is currently being edited, and this year I will start working on the first half of the sequel. Who knows if it will be published? Time will tell. But I very much think of myself as a writer, I always have, though to be honest I won’t put that in the “occupation” box on a survey until I’ve been published as an author or earned an income from it. In the meantime, I call myself a photographer, which is the other hat I wear, and as someone who gets paid to take photographs I think I’ve definitely earned the right to call myself that.

    • Debbish
      October 14, 2012

      You’re certainly an amazing photographer Trish. And as for the writing… I suspect there’s a sense of accomplishment in achieving a draft manuscript, let alone editing it and possibly sending queries etc. I’d love to get to that point!


  • Fran
    October 14, 2012

    Deb, I am a blogger and found your blog via the #PBEVENT tweets. I am no writer. I just like new challenges, improving, sharing my learnings while growing my skills, etc with my http://www.Travelgenee.com blog. There definitely is not a book in me. Fran

    • Debbish
      October 15, 2012

      I think that’s something I realised on the weekend Fran. There are those who have a blog for business reasons or because they have a specific expertise or because they like sharing (as you suggest). Not everyone wants something more. (And, not every writer has an interest in blogging I suspect!)

      Thanks for visiting!


  • Panama
    October 24, 2012

    You’re writing a memoir, a script, a nonfiction book about turtles or something else that’s not a novel. You’re a NaNoRebel, baby! Converse with your fellow outlaws here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts