Creative writing is an entirely different beast from journalism. Like apples and oranges and other tired clichés, it’s one thing to take a source, milk it for content and weave it into a colorful, entertaining article or blog post, but an entirely different matter to fabricate that colorful yarn out of thin air and make it a tapestry worth reading. Wait a ticket, you may say, but most novels aren’t written on a monthly deadline; there’s plenty of time for them to be carefully crafted. Surely you could never combine the frantic deadlines of journalism with the pure, unadulterated creation of fiction? Challenge accepted!
That is exactly what NaNoWriMo is all about. Nov. 1 begins the 14th annual National Novel Writing Month. This month-long celebration of the written word is a national (and international) call to sit down, over-caffeinate and spit out 50,000 words in 30 days. Of course not every one of the countless novels (many published) in this frenzy of plot devices and irony came out as polished gold, but then again, even Kerouac’s On the Roadneeded a little TLC after it was first scrawled out.
Make no mistake: Although a daunting task, this is by no means an event purely for the serious or the professional—in fact precisely the opposite. Just one look at the vast forum space at Nanowrimo.org or the more than 250,000 participants of 2011 shows that this is an event neither for the furious, obsessive writer tucked away in their Una-bomber shack stabbing at typewriter keys with a look of bloodshot conviction nor the professional in their swanky cherry oak-lined study pondering tone and brandy. NaNoWriMo is about community and a collective passion for words, words, words. Volunteer municipal liaisons from various areas (such as Niki a.k.a “Vortexae” in Boulder County) work above and beyond to organize “write-ins” at local coffee shops and libraries to bring the people together as a creative force.
Not to be overly melodramatic, but that’s in part what all writing is driving at—literature and journalism both. There is a world out yonder and through those walls there are people with stories written all over and in them. Without putting all that down it could be lost in the muddling frenzy of modern society.
Now here’s a shot to cure yourself of that gnawing voice picking away at the inside of your brain to get out and do something extreme (that is in the incredibly bookwormish sense of the word). So if you’ve got the time to spare as November’s frigid frosts and snow storms set in go on and tap your muse and brew up a pot (or two) of coffee. If you’re not going to write that great epic, who will?