Ermahgerd, thernly verrled NerNerWriMer perst!
Ahem, blech, hrrrruugggg. Cough.
Oh my god! Thinly veiled NaNoWriMo Post!
It’s October and we all know what that means. Pumpkin ale, and raking leaves, and Cinammon Apple Yankee Candles for everyone! Oh, and NaNoWriMo 2012 starts in roughly one month. 27 days to be more accurate, or 26, really, since today halfway over.
Last time, I talked loosely about preparation. What and how and why we’re going to punish our brains throughout November. I even made some new masochistic writing friends! I’ve been spending my off-time (what little there is of it) working on the outlines for my stories and building the structure that I plan to fit them all into. It’s a steaming mess of Word docs right now, but the idea is gestating and hopefully my little bundle of literary joy will be nearly fully formed come December 1.
But today, I’m more concerned about the future. The time beyond NaNo 2012, the cosmic unknown of days and events that have only happened in our dreams. Things like NaNoWriMo are great catalysts for getting shit done, but they beg the much larger questions: why are you writing a novel and what do you plan to do once you’ve written it?
Phil (via Writer’s Codex) got me thinking about why I write, and what that means about the person I am and the person I want to be. I write partly out of catharsis, partly for fun, and partly as a manual “Save As…” function for my brain. I’ve got a lot of potent abstracts bouncing around in there, and writing makes me feel like I’ve got a way to catalog them. A Dewey decimal system for my ideas, emotions, musings, and memories, if you will.
And more importantly, I write because it makes my brain all bubbly with joy, which makes life that little bit sweeter.
The why of writing is a philosophical abstract; it’s the same as asking why some people merely like cookies and some people would commit felonies for a tray of freshly baked chocolate chip wonder. We may never know the answer. You can muse on it all day, but may never find an answer that truly satisfies your self indulgent inquiry.
It’s brain-stretching to think about why I write, but it doesn’t get me very far in terms of my craft. I prefer specifics; concrete ideas with real, undeniable answers. Something with some weight behind it, like a good machete or a loaf of stale french bread.
To that end, I’ve established goals that I constantly remind myself of to keep me on track. They are, as of today:
-Finish my masters by the end of 2013 (slated to write my thesis next fall)
-Publish my first “large work” (this could be a number of things) before I’m 30 (I’m 27 on Oct. 21)
-Update my blog (to keep my writing muscles toned) at least twice a week
-Make writing a priority over other non-mandatory things (as fun as Borderlands 2 is, it isn’t going to satiate that creative thirst)
-Enjoy the act of writing, not just the final product (because, duh)
These have kept me focused and committed, even on the days I just don’t feel like doing the Fingers-Keyboard dance. I’ve found that they work sort of like affirmations; the more I remind myself of these goals, the more I see myself moving towards completing them, and the happier I feel about being a few words closer to achieving a dream.
Our brains are crazy powerful if we let them off the leash.
So to all my fellow NaNo’ers: Beyond why you write, what are your goals for your writing? Do you do it just to keep the legions of brain-demons at a sword’s length, or are you striving for a taste of validation via large-scale publishing? Are you writing to get that mega-huge, sprawling idea into something more tangible, or just for the personal challenge of the whole thing?
Whatever your reasons, setting goals will help. Without a goal, you can never score.