“Art matters the same way language matters—or the way breathing matters! It is a fundamental component of what makes us uniquely human.” —MaryAnn F. Kohl
MaryAnn F. Kohl, an art educator, wrote an article about the importance of art in a child’s development. She said, “It is important…to separate the notion of ‘talent’ from ‘creativity’—a child does not have to create a masterpiece to have a meaningful artistic experience. Art is a process, not a product…. Where art is concerned, it is the process of creating—exploring, discovering, and experimenting—that has the greatest value. Through self-expression and creativity, children’s skills will develop naturally, and their ability to create will soar.”
And that goes for adults, too. In that spirit, I want to plug NaNoWriMo, which starts Nov. 1. November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, and comes with the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s 1,667 words per day—every day—until it strikes midnight Nov. 30. A manageable task with the aid of a few extra double-shot espressos and a few less snooze button hits.
Since its start in 1999 with 21 people, NaNoWriMo has grown every year, with last year’s participant count at 200,500, “winner” count (those who did hit the 50,000-word mark) at 37,500, and more than 2.8 billion total words written.
It’s not for everybody, but it has been for a lot of somebodies. And I suspect there will be even more signing up this year.
Somebody once said, or more likely wrote, that everyone has a story inside of them. Who hasn’t read a book and thought, “I could write something better than that.” Maybe you can. Maybe not. It’s all good because adults need to be reminded that they should take advantage of the same artistic freedoms that kids do…it’s about the process, not the product.
In that spirit, you need just two things: a deadline, provided for you, and an idea, which is wide open. You will lose sleep. You will be challenged. Your right brain will get a workout.
Still not convinced? That’s OK—this is perfect for the non-committal type. On the average, only 17 percent make it to 50,000 words. That isn’t meant to be discouraging, just to illustrate that along with no fees or penalties, there’s also no pressure. It’s just an opportunity to try something new and to manhandle a deadline.
Read the particulars and sign up at nanowrimo.com. When you do, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then soak in Nanowrimo founder Chris Baty’s distinctive brand of encouragement: “You should lower the bar from ‘best-seller’ to ‘would not make someone vomit.’”