In Praise of Zeal

In Business of Writing, Classes, Craft on October 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm

writing woodblockThere are many kinds of writers, but a certain breed of them is gathering energy right now, building up storage for the long month of November, when they will eschew family, jobs and social mores to write 50,000 word novels just because. The fact that “Nanowrimo” is now a word more often recognized than not, is a testament to the power of creative zeal.

It is the zealous who madly whip out novels in a matter of months or days, who carve out new paths toward publication with the mighty power of “whythehellnot!” in their pen. Not only have I been lucky to interview tons of these folks during my time as a contributing editor at Writer’s Digest magazine, but the fact is, I am one of them. And you probably are, too.

The revised product of my first round with Nanowrimo garnered me an agent and changed how I looked at “free time to write.”

The second round produced a book that I wrangled with for over a year before eventually abandoning it for what it was: a mess that would take a lot of breathing room to figure out. But it taught me a lot about novel writing that I’ve taken with me into what I’m working on now.

Both results were worth the trouble.

Now, I’m 225 pages into a novel that has been written most often in 20 minute bursts since the birth of my first and only child 16 months ago.

Both Nanowrimo and motherhood have taught me the same thing:

  • You have far more time to write than you think you do.
  • Writing done hastily is still better than no writing–all writing can be revised
  • The sheer power of creative zeal is often enough to get you knee deep into a very worthy project.

So go for it.

But if you don’t do Nanowrimo this year and are looking for something else to do with your November, I’ve still got a few spots in Fiction’s Magic Ingredient!

  1. I don’t necessarily follow the pre-defined rules of NaNoWriMo, but it’s the momentum and enthusiasm that surrounds the month that gets me involved. I don’t sign up on the NaNoWriMo site, nor do I necessarily finish a full draft, but it does force me to put pen to paper. Last year was my first year, and I did manage to write 50,000 words – and that was with family visiting over Thanksgiving! I agree with what you said above: You have far more time to write than you think you do.

    • JoAnna, I think that’s what I like about Nano anymore, is that even if you’re not doing it, the momentum generated is contagious!

  2. I am so inspired by what you have achieved…especially coming up on being in another ‘newborn’ period myself. I am hoping that this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt actually results in usable material and a project that doesn’t require a massive overhaul. I tend to be a ‘lump of clay’ writer – or at least it feels like that. I have to do a lot of sculpting in order to get my words to look like something recognizable. At least this is how it feels when I am on revision 1234.56! I keep telling myself, “Just trust that you are learning and it will get easier…”

    • Alegra, I feel your “lump of clay” pain…I’m that way too when I write fast. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that kind of product, but other times, like now, I want to stretch the taffy as I go. Wait, I think I’ve got two metaphors vying for mediocrity here

  3. The challenge is ahead of me as I do this for the first time this year – in the midst of launching four books by 1 December, finishing work on a fifth due out mid-December, and moving house the weekend before Thanksgiving. Insanity? Perhaps. It is as you say, however, in your first point: You have far more time to write than you think you do.

    I must say, too, that your third point is what got me knee deep in the business as a publisher in the first place: The sheer power of creative zeal is often enough to get you knee deep into a very worthy project.

  4. Good for you for taking on the challenge and wow, launching 4 books by Dec. 1?? You are brave, and definitely number among us zealots. What’s your website? You’re welcome to post it here in the comments.

  5. @alegra – Remember your eating elephants thing? Chomp, chomp, sweetie. You’re going to do just fine!

    @jordan – Thank you. That wasn’t my purpose in posting, though. 🙂 I’ll post the website some other time. I don’t want to take away from the purpose of the blog. Re: the 4 books – they’ve been in the works most of the year. We committed to the time frames for the fall, and then I decided to do this. My partner thinks I should be shot. haha!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: