Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Embracing the NaNo

For several years I've been kind of anti the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because in some ways I believe it establishes a false relationship between word count and quality work. Several years ago, in my own teaching, I got rid of word count and/or page limits on papers that I've assigned to my classes. Instead I would say things like:
"This needs to be as long as it needs to be to provide quality information and answers to the assignment. You cannot do that in only a couple of pages. I am more concerned with quality than quantity. If you can say what you need to say in fewer pages, that's fine. But if you ramble on and on just to reach a certain page count, that serves no purpose."
In a way, that has been my attitude toward the arbitrary goal of achieving 50,000 words. Just because you write 50,000 words and can call something a novel doesn't mean they are 50,000 quality words or something worth reading.

I've read a few self-published NaNo novels that showed me that sometimes work needs a little more time, and a lot fewer words.

That said, however, I am also beginning to recognize the need for a few things to help me achieve my creative and artistic goals:
  • Deadlines: Without a deadline, I tend to be able to procrastinate more. For example, my new business doesn't yet have a specific starting date and so it has become too easy to say to myself "well I'll work on that later." I work better under looming deadlines.
  • Companionship: While writing is very much an activity to do alone, it helps so much to have a support group of sorts, or a cheer leading squad. Since I have no desire to be followed around by overly cheery people carrying pompoms, I have to seek out that supportive group in other ways. I have some wonderful blogging buddies. I have a couple of nearby writing friends, one whose manuscript I just finished and love. And I have one comic book artist friend who I met very briefly just as he was moving into and I was moving out-of-town. We have since become virtual friends, and he is one of the most encouraging, inspiring, and supportive writers I know. Mike is the one who mentioned NaNoWriMo to me and said things like:
"You could do NaNoWriMo just for the fellowship. I find it useful having a group of people sharing word counts whether or not they give a crap about the 50K goal."




"The nice thing about participating in NaNoWriMo even when you don't intend to win, though, is that it keeps you active and engaged and oriented toward EVENTUALLY reaching that goal. It's keeps you in the novelist's headspace."

  • An Artist's Head Space: I struggle the most when I am full of doubts. You've read it here before, how can I call myself a writer if I don't write? How can I call myself a director if I don't direct? How can I call myself an artist if I don't create. Well I am all three of these things. I am a writer. I am a director. I am an artist. In order to embrace that, though, I need to allow myself the freedom to be those things.
So here I am, a member of NaNoWriMo for approximately 13 hours. I have written 2898 words (granted 900 or so of them were in a notebook from earlier, I just typed them in) and started a new project. I woke up early so I could write without feeling guilty, since I'm on single Mom duty for the day.

Whether or not I reach the NaNoWriMo goal is not important. What is important is that I am setting my own goals and following them.

And that's all good.

Lisa Writes