When I decided I wanted to write 30 posts in 30 days, I didn’t know that there is an official site/organization dedicated to doing just that. I found it a few weeks ago perusing the internet. It’s a takeoff on NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month, founded by Chris Baty, author of No Plot? No Problem. Every November for the past ten years, tens of thousands of folks have made a commitment to write a 50,000 word novel during the month. Last year 165,000 of the officially entered writers completed their novel during the month. The idea is to simply get the words out. No editing, no rewriting, just words on paper; quantity over quality; get over the blocks, the ideas about there being enough time; stop thinking about it and start doing it. Five thousand words a day for thirty days. Trust the words, the process will take care of itself. It’s become a bit of a big deal, and I know two people who have participated, completed the words, and enjoyed the hell out of the ride.
More recently, the idea was expanded to blogging, and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) was born. In the beginning, it was also November, though because blogging is more an ongoing activity, it soon expanded, and you can now participate any month, though the “official” participation month is still November.
Though I’ve (obviously) fallen way short of my original goal, I still have a great desire to do a post a day for thirty days. For one thing, maybe even the main and only thing, writing begets more writing. I found that when I was writing my own “novel.” The more often and the more words I wrote, the more immersed I became, until something opened, it came alive, and I began to live it.
I loved it when that place opened. Not the “oh, gosh, writing is so easy” place, but the one where ideas and connections and insights are popping like firecrackers on the 4th, where the process is alive, even when not in front of the computer; when I’m walking the dog, or running an errand, and the thread is there, so lively that I wish for a piece of paper and a pen or a tape recorder so that the scene or conversation or developing character coming alive in my mind wouldn't be lost. I heard once that my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, hides little notebooks and pencils at various places in the woods near her home where she walks every morning. A knothole in a tree. Between rocks. So they’re there when the unexpected loon or goose or fawn surprises and inspires her and a poem is born.
Dial tone or no, there’s something to be said for writing every day. In fact, there’s everything to be said for it. For me, anyway. In my experience, in that year and a half that I worked on the story, I learned that the only way it had even a prayer of a chance of flowing consistently was to do it every single day. It’s like the piece, the creation itself, takes on a life of its own, becoming its own entity, one that must be fed and nurtured constantly. Otherwise, like a neglected baby, it would fail to thrive. I also found that for every day that I did not write, it took that many days to get back into the space and flow of it. One day, not so bad. Two days, gets more difficult. By the third day, not only would it take at least three days to get it moving again, but a sort of a block had begun to set in in my psyche that actually made it harder to accomplish the act of even sitting down to do it. (If I remember correctly from reading his book On Writing, when Stephen King is writing a novel, he writes every single day, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, for the months that it is being created—for exactly that reason.)
Not only does writing consistently and habitually keep the words flowing and the material alive, it also takes us somewhere. It opens doors we don't know are there. It provides a path previously only partially-if at all-glimpsed. It offers new vistas and fresh insights. It presents the opportunity for what lies buried deep inside us to ascend into the light of day. It is risky; it requires courage. It evokes feeling; it can bring about deep healing; it can change our lives.
We are all creative beings. We all have a story to tell. On Moloka'i, I sat for hours and hours talking story with the many people I met there. In the telling, and in the listening, connections were forged, lives shared, community created. In my writing groups, I watch in awe and humility as the participants stagger themselves and each other when they reach inside and find what even they didn't know was there. When a poem spontaneously erupts, a story moves them to tears, a piece of fiction surprises them. I witness their courage and the richness of their words; through those words, we get a glance of each others' spirits; and I watch as community is forged there as well.
I am going to try again. I am planning on participating in November’s NaBloPoMo. For the month, dial tone or no, I want to turn my life over to the process of writing like I did when I was telling my story in my novel. Surrender, trust the process. Unlike other arts, writing can connect us in a unique way. I would love it if others out there would join me for the thirty/thirty. It can be done officially (you join the community of writers on the site) or it can be done more casually. Setting up a blog and using it is pretty easy. (Honestly. If I can do it, pretty much anyone can, and I am happy to lend support where I can) We could form a loose community, "follow" each other, and just write. Winter's on its way, maybe we should hunker down and see what wants to arise. And here's the good news: since it's blogging and not novel writing, there are no word counts. Just publish a post a day for thirty days. What could be easier... (haha... right... ;)