On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier over Rogers Dry Lake, California, in the X-1 rocket plane.
On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier by skydiving over the desert in Roswell, New Mexico.
In honor of speed lovers like Yeager and Baumgartner, I throw down the challenge to my writing friends to write a novel in a month, a challenge taken up world-wide in November. It sounds insane. It sounds impossible. And that’s what makes it fun!
Known to participants as NANOWRIMO, it is a month-long marathon of writing which frees us to write so fast, and with such wild abandon, that the lazy, mean-spirited, inner critic cannot possibly catch up.
For non-writers, let me illustrate the destructive complaints of the inner critic. “You call that prose?” “Egad, that’s the lamest metaphor since man first put pen to paper.” “Don’t write another sentence until you look up the spelling of that word!” “Should the past-tense form be lie or lay?” The voice of the nag might sound like a grade-school English teacher, or a loved one with whom the writer carelessly shared a draft version of a story. “Well, that’s not as good as Grisham.” Ouch.
Nanowrimo is the ideal way for aspiring authors to fearlessly hammer out that ugly first draft. Oh, and it will be ugly in epic proportions. The inner critic will writhe in the dust behind pages and pages of flowing prose. After a while of pounding out two-thousand words each day, writers break the sound barrier and can no longer hear the hypercritical whines of the inner critic. The peace that follows arrives like a runner’s high. Endorphins flood the bloodstream. Caffeine feels like jet fuel. There will be typos and misspellings and grammar blunders galore, but NOBODY cares because the point is to get 50,000 words on the screen in 30 days.
As someone who has participated for years, I have learned that October is the month to plot scenes, to design my hero or heroine, to craft a worthy villain, and to choose a setting in which to unleash the story. Stocked up on caffeine. Cleared the schedule. Won’t answer the phone, but will check messages during potty breaks. I’m all in.
Shrug off your inner critic. I dare you. The NANOWRIMO challenge is on. Are you in? See http://www.nanowrimo.org for the details on how to participate.