Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Write What You NaNo guest blogger: Margo Berendsen

OMG, everyone--Happy NaNo Day! If you're taking a break from furiously typing, welcome! If you're procrastinating on actually starting, welcome! If you have no idea what NaNo is, welcome! You get the idea. Today's special guest blogger is Margo Berendsen, a new blog friend I met through Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign. Welcome, Margo!

I love all the buzz about NaNoWriMo that I've been seeing on different blogs this year. Lots of people considering trying it, or talking about their plans, or sharing advice on how to come out of it with a workable manuscript.

But I'm just here to gush about it. Like GUSH. (Hold on to your keyboards, the gush will hit full volume in the next paragraph). I realize NaNo isn't for everyone. It has its issues. Starting with its name. Really, NaNoWriMo is a weird name, even if you shorten it to NaNo or lengthen it to its full National Novel Writing Month. People look at you like you are a alien with purple acne when you try to explain it. And yes, it's a lot of work. And yes, it has a shady reputation among “serious” writers because it's a free-for-all, no rules and no editing kind of thing, disable your back-button and delete-button kind of thing, let your characters-take-over kind of thing.

<begin crazy gushing>
And that is why I love it. Because there are no rules! You can write a crappy sentence, or a crappy paragraph, or page, or  even a chapter and it's okay. Really, it is! Don't let the naysayers tell you otherwise. Because sometimes your imagination just needs to go completely off the leash and run wild.

Even with pre-planning and outlining and all that, it is still absolutely amazing and thrilling what kinds of ideas pop off the page when you are racing to meet your word count and discarding all the urges to edit in order to make it. OMG did I just write that? That's so cool! Where did that come from? It's 1:00 am and I'm exhausted and thinking like a slug and I think my fingers must have just evolved their own brain to have come with that!

...and totally worth all the other less excited exclamations such as that was so lame! what a sorry cliche that was! I am SUCH a lazy writer! and I'm totally skipping the transition here and the description there and going straight to the next fun part!

NaNo is an idea rush for me. My characters come alive and drag me off to strange places and fascinating circumstances that I probably would be afraid to get into myself.  Settings come alive and add new layers to my plot. There’s something about the intensity of the month, the looming deadline, the progressing status bars of your NaNo-buddies and your own bar creeping and straining to keep up – it’s a pressure cooker that produces a surprising idea-stew.

<realistic moment within gush>
So.....it's not all neon gravy. There are days where duty calls and there's no time to write until 11pm and then the words come slower than a cat when you call it and then they fit together about as well as herd of cats (really, I like cats, don't get me wrong) and you keep waiting for that idea rush to come and it doesn't. You just feel like giving up.

But. But!!!! You're addicted to that idea rush. So you go to WriteOrDie.com (seriously, check it out if you haven’t already) and you stagger through another 500 words with an extra dose of chocolate and maybe even an intravenous drip of chocolate or caffeine or both.
</end realistic moment>

<continue gush>
And then it happens again. The rush. The flood of words that make you smile and glance around to make sure no one is close enough to hear you giggle. As much as I love chocolate, I don't think it’s the trigger. I think it's just the perseverance. The not giving up.
<gush not ending until December 1st>

Margo Berendsen blogs at Writing At High Altitude, where she muses on all things writing-related, including her delusion that writing at 7200 ft in Laramie, Wyoming gives her an edge. She loves history, faith, maps, and mythical creatures, which all end up in her writing somehow. For NaNoWriMo 2011 she's taking on her first science fiction project. You can find her and friend her (please!) as "berendsen70" on NaNoWriMo.org.


  1. LOL I can feel the enthusiasm!! You go!!

  2. That is some seriously infectious enthusiasm, Margo!

  3. I now need to find a way to incorporate the phrase "neon gravy" in my daily vernacular... :)

  4. This is so why I love NaNoWriMo! The enthusiasm and excitement is so catching. I could listen to someone gush about NaNo for hours. It gets me ready to write like few other things can.

  5. @terri - thanks for stopping by!

    @sophia - infectious: so you mean you're doing NaNoWriMo too? (smile)

    @TL - I started with just gravy. Boring! Not sure where the neon came from!

    @Sommer - I love the gushing too, esp. at the beginning. Toward the middle and end of November, no more gushing, please! Give me sympathy instead!!!! (and lots of TLC so I can keep on writing)

  6. It is a rush! Once I got going, the story flowed. And even though I am the slowest typist in the world, I still finished a couple days early.

  7. I guess i handle NaNo the same way i handle writing any other time. It's just that NaNo has a crap load of other people doing it at the same time, so it's AWESOME!

  8. GUSH!! I got chills just reading that. :)

  9. This post has made me excited to write (although I'm not doing NaNo). I love the energy and passion.

  10. I love the rush! And join us for #writersroad for a 30min burst writing tonight (chat at 9pm EST, burst at 9:30pm EST). And ever since Water for Elephants (a NaNo novel) hit the big time, I don't think people who look down on NaNo have much to stand on anymore. It's not how you start, it's how you finish that counts!

  11. Susan, I absolutely agree. Knowing Water for Elephants was a NaNo novel was HUGE for me. It made me feel like those of us who participate and create a novel might actually be able to sculpt the ball of clay into something good after all!


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