Ass on Chair: Motivation on Day One of NaNoWriMo

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo and I am so pumped and…scared. How am I going to motivate myself to write 50,000 words in a month – or 1,667 words a day? Never mind the fact that I don’t have a subject or a plan yet, beyond just starting to write and hoping that something starts to emerge from the chaos.

I think that one of the greatest barriers to writing, and staying committed to writing daily, is the loneliness of the blank page and the demons that you have to face in order to fill it. National Novel Writing Month addresses that loneliness head-on, bringing writers together while challenging them to just get the words out, no matter how awful they are – no editing allowed. Even though I don’t have a specific project on the go, I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo, in part, because of the huge network of people out there struggling away on this same crazy writing marathon, and, more specifically, because I knew there would be a network of people right here in Flin Flon working on NaNoWriMo, a network I am hoping to lean on quite a bit. I’m going to be meeting with my fellow Nano writers today at 4:00 at the Orange Toad coffee shop and I’m really looking forward to sharing insights, accomplishments, difficulties and time-management strategies (especially need that last one) with them.

But I will need some intrinsic motivation too – to that end, here are my three key motivators so far:

  1. “Ass on Chair” This mantra came from my writing class at Ryerson with Paul McLaughlin last year. I think it says it all. I’m making a bright pink sticky note and putting it on my monitor. There.
  2. A Credo for Making it Happen, by Danielle LaPorte is a powerful one-minute-and-forty-six-second kick-in-the-ass (embedded below). I’ll be watching this daily in the hopes that it will help me when my wrists start to ache and my brain starts to fry around mid-November
  3. The book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. As I try to control the editing voices in my head, and just write, I’m going to keep coming back to Lamott’s chapter on “Shitty First Drafts”:

“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?” you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grow-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go–but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages” (Bird by Bird, p.22)

A month of writing – no editing – 1,667 words a day. Here goes!

Danielle LaPorte: A Credo for Making it Happen

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