“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month, a challenge that is popular among some writers, and a summons to those interested in writing 50,000 words in the month of November. I remember a friend and roommate of mine wrote to her heart’s content one cold November while we were in college in northern Wisconsin. It was years before I heard of others doing the same challenge. There is a website and social media groups and hashtags all celebrating the feat. The idea is that you write that many words and then come back to edit and revise later. There are critics of the idea: that some will write drivel in order to just complete the challenge, with the emphasis on quantity instead of quality. Others ask why not write year-round, why save it for one short month? I think I understand both sides of this supposed argument and I have wanted my own writing challenge, but I am both contrary and not that interested in writing a novel, yet. I am interested, though, in writing a book of essays.
A new friend of mine recently mentioned that she was planning to participate. I admire her grit and fortitude. Another friend recently told me that she had just landed an agent for a novel she had finished writing a year ago. While I celebrated her next step into the literary world, I was almost more amazed at the idea of a completed novel (written and edited). Inspired by these women, plus being sucker for a gimmick, and also ready to take on a challenge, I sat down to figure out my own writing goal. Earlier this summer, I curled up with a glass of wine and a deck of index cards. I brainstormed and wrote down titles for essays for two book projects and titles for a book of short stories. I had pinned those packs of index cards to the bulletin board near my desk in the bedroom, but hadn’t looked at them in a while. Tonight, fueled by another glass of wine, I realized I could use one of those packs to begin a new book. One pack of cards for the essays had 35 different ideas jotted down. Then I realized that I was more comfortable with a stretched out timeline compared to a month. So, I multiplied 35 times two and realized that 70 days felt like a good number.
My challenge: Write 35 essays in 70 days.
The challenge is to write 35 essays in addition to my plan to write at least weekly for my blog or to work on other writing projects.
The challenge begins today, Sunday, November 6, 2016 and ends Sunday, January 15, 2017! A focus, a challenge, a beginning. Let the fun begin!