Monday, November 4, 2013

Why You Should Participate in NaNoWriMo

November seems to be the month that is designated for designating for things. It's Special Month Awareness Month, or something. It's No Shave November, Mo-vember, Fire Awareness Month, Lupus Awareness Month, Shelter Dog Adoption Month, Bully Prevention Month, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, among, no doubt, many others. It's also National Novel Writing Month, and that's what I want to talk about.

Here's the rub of it: You should write a book.

We live in a world of consumers. You and I are consumers. Americans watch 4-6 hours of television a day. Nearly every waking hour is spent with a screen of some kind in our face. Mostly, a screen means consumption--we are consuming someone else's thoughts, moods, attitudes, research, jokes, and pictures of their lunch, to boot. We can spend our lives this way very easily. And that's fine, if that's what you want. But it's also purely decadent in a way that no society throughout history has ever been decadent before.

No one before our time spent so many countless hours being passively entertained.

I was standing at a red light earlier today. The light had just turned red and there were a group of six or seven college students waiting to cross the street from a Starbucks to the college. The red light lasts, I don't know, 45 seconds? Something like that. And what do these students do as the light turns red? Every one of them, without fail, every single one of them, pulls out their cell phone and looks at something. Maybe it's Facebook. Maybe Instagram. Maybe their logging into their email. The point is, they couldn't be bothered to sit and wait for 45 seconds without the company of their screen--without being fed by something.

National Novel Writing Month offers you a distinct opportunity: stop being fed and start feeding.

Don't be a consumer all the time, be a producer, too.

You probably know as many people as I do who say, "I'm going to write a book someday." And who knows what they're waiting for? To get to be a better writer? To have more interesting experiences? Don't wait for those things. You want to be a better writer? Start writing. Just imagine how much better you will be after writing 50,000 words in a few weeks. You want to have more interesting experiences? Put down the little screen and take an interest in the experiences you already have. It's that simple.

There are other ways to produce. Draw pictures, play music, put on a play. But there is nothing simpler, cheaper, or more involving than writing a book. Do those other things, too. Or do them instead of writing a book. Whatever. But start doing something! Stop waiting!

There's an easy way to get motivated that speaks to the consumer mentality in an effective way. Start a profile on http://www.nanowrimo.org. There you can log your word count, post excerpts, connect with other writers, and find some good advice on not stopping.

Have something to point to and say, "There, I've done that." Stop waiting. And enjoy it.

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