Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

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It's NaNoWriMo, and while the name of the game is writing and getting 50,000 words down by the end of the month, I'm going to blog about something a little different: creative commitment.

What is commitment? According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:

com·mit·ment noun \k?-?mit-m?nt\

Definition of COMMITMENT

1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee
b : mittimus
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date
b : something pledged
c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

Notice that very first definition. There's a certain amount of crazy that comes with a personal avowal to a particular course of action. It's crazy to other people, anyhow, when you pledge to fly to the moon, climb Mount Everest, journey to Antarctica, run that marathon, or write that book. The reason's it's called a commitment is that most people will think you're mad to dedicate your time, energy, and resources to a venture they wouldn't undertake themselves and one that, in their minds, is doomed to failure.

But we know those insane adventures into the unknown weren't so crazy because people have done them. And there are still more challenges to claim victory over if we decide to commit ourselves.

Take this example: Kina Grannis had this stop-motion music video made entirely of jelly beans. The production was filmed over 2 years using 288,000 jelly beans.

Watch the video here, then check out the making of the video.

 

Did you go "Wow. That's insane. Why would anyone do this? It's genius!"?

That is the product of commitment. Awe. Shock. Bewilderment. Inspiration. It takes you going the extra mile, you going to greater lengths than can you'd imagined, you having the balls to say, "No, that's not good enough for me" and doing something about it.

I admit that when I first saw this video, I was like, "Huh, that's really neat." But it didn't occur to me just how much work went into it until I watched the making of.

And that's part of the irony of creative commitment. As the creators/directors/writers, etc. we must brood and gnash our teeth and sweat blood over the most minute details, but the art comes in making sure no one else notices until we pull back the curtain. Just think about your favorite big-budget movie productions and how much more you appreciated them when you watch a special making-of feature, or heard an interview with the director about filming challenges.

Once we'd seen this making-of documentary, my husband and I watched this music video over and over again. The simple, cutesy song that would have likely fled our brains the minute we turned to something else has stuck with us day and night. Kina Grannis is now a name we know, and it's all thanks to this video.

So my lesson is this: Commitment is about more than just time and word counts. It's about a personal pledge to make your work the best it can possibly be. When NaNo is done and you have your 50,000 words, will you be going to the extra mile to edit, rewrite, and then edit some more? Will you get over your 50,000 words--even if they're complete crap--and shape your work into a masterpiece?

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Every November, I debate whether I should join the NaNoWriMo challenge.

More often than not, I end up saying no. Actually, I end up saying, "Are you insane? I barely have a social life as it is!"

To the detriment of my family, my friends, my marriage, and my housekeeping, my writing discipline has always been fairly strict, so I've never had any real incentive to push myself to complete a novel in a month while I'm employed full-time. I've written 5.5 of them in just under 5 years, and only 3 of them have been worth my focus (and only one has actually sold).

Frankly, I don't like to be pressured to produce 50,000 words in 30 days (that's just over 1666 words a day for those of you who are counting.) I can see how the challenge appeals to other writers, I just don't think it's for me.

Still, when I read about the "fun" times people have during NaNo, I feel like I'm missing out on something that could be both good for my skills but terrible for my mental health. So I asked myself, how can I share in the agony and sheer madness that produces some seriously questionable content?

And then, I had my Aha moment. Agony? Madness? Spinning my wheels in achieving a lofty goal? This sounds just like all that time I spent in the gym!

So, this November, I've decided to make up my own NaNo. NaNoExMo, or National November Exercise Month. (It actually used to be a thing in December, but appears to be a defunct challenge now.)

Since the wedding, I've been getting a little lax about my exercise routine, which, until May, consisted of a regular routine of brisk treadmill walking or elliptical, Pilates, weights and yoga. Now, exercise consists of the walk from my house to the grocery store. My energy levels are dropping like the mercury in Arctic winter, and my pants are starting to feel less roomy.

So, as a tribute to my brave compatriots participating in NaNoWriMo, I will be pledging myself to exercising at the gym 3 times a week, with 20 minutes of cardio, and all that other good stuff I used to do. It's not boot camp, but it's more than I'd be doing otherwise.

So, march on, fellow writers! While you engage in the age-old art of BICHOK, I will be sweating and panting and plotting the book I would be writing if I were in NaNoWriMo.

Good luck to all you NaNoers, and may the Force be with all of us!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Have you done it before? Comment and you'll be entered to win one of 4 Harlequin vintage prize packs throughout November! Click here for details!