Up for a Challenge?

By Lindsey Arasmith, SacMidtown.com

Somewhere along the line I have completely lost my sense of imagination.

November is National Novel Writing Month. I learned, thanks to a Twitter trending topic, that one can (and should) celebrate this by signing up at NaNoWriMo.org and spending the rest of your month writing a novel.

If you write 50,000 words by the end of the month, you will have ‘won’ the challenge, and you will have written a novel. (Editing can be done in December.)

The point of this exercise is to write. Write like there is no tomorrow… and then write some more. Apparently there is even a company that will bind your finished novel, paperback style, for free if you finish by November 30th. What’s more, if you get sponsored or make a donation you will be helping to fund creative writing programs in classrooms and libraries all over the country. Up for the challenge, I registered myself as a participant, opened a Word document, and stared at the blank white screen.

I stared at the screen for about 20 minutes. At which point I turned on the TV. I watched reruns of Will & Grace. I watched OnDemand episodes of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I watched CBS’s entire Monday night line-up. I laughed, I cringed, I felt feelings about fake circumstances.

Feeling I’d had enough inspiration, I went back to my blank document. I thought of girl-meets-boy stories, awkward situations, funny one-liners. I wrote one sentence of each… and then hit delete repeatedly. Back to the blank screen.

I stared for about 10 minutes before I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Not willing to let a challenge win over my will to succeed, I decided to sleep on it. Dreams are the imagination run wild, right? Notsomuch. I woke up with no story in mind, and no will to try. I gave up on day 2, with no one to answer to but myself. And then I went strait to the TV to watch Lifetime’s syndicated episodes of Frasier.

It is safe to say that my lack of imagination is largely due to an addiction to television. (Before you judge me on my bad habits, think for 20 minutes about what your novel would be about. Try to write a couple pages. Are you hitting this brick wall, too?) Any story I think up has already been done before.

Somewhere between Friends and How I Met Your Mother, all the romantic comedies have been told.

I am at a loss to try to spice up reruns that are already so thoroughly stuck into my head. I could probably recite any given episode of 30 Rock, but make up a quick story about a normal person’s life? Just not in the cards.

TV has over stimulated my mind to the point of no return. Even a walk around my beloved neighborhood, which could easily bring inspiration to artists of many kinds, didn’t give me anything to write about.

So, since I’ve had to give up on the challenge of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month, I hope someone out there -yes, you! why not?- will take it up in my place. If you didn’t hit the brick wall after trying for a couple pages, you have no excuse not to take up the challenge. You still have 25 days to go, and if you just don’t turn on the TV, I’m sure you’ll be a huge success. All I ask is 10% when you’re rich and famous.

For information on NaNoWriMo- visit here.

About Jimmy Spencer

Jimmy Spencer has extensive experience in journalism and new media. As the founding editor of SacMidtown.com, Spencer combines his writing, reporting and editing skills to produce a "pretty good site about midtown." During the day, Spencer covers government and also covers the NBA. At night, he watches T.V. and plays on the Internet. Every now and then, he walks around his midtown neighborhood. Spencer began his professional journalism career with The Sacramento Bee, finishing his tenure with the McClatchy-owned newspaper in the new media department. Spencer moved to Connecticut where he continued his growth in new media as a writer/content producer for NBC Sports. Spencer also worked in media relations with the Sacramento River Cats, Minor League Baseball Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Sacramento where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The State Hornet campus newspaper. Spencer was raised in Marin County and currently lives in Sacramento, Calif. Spencer works in the community as a high school basketball coach in the Sacramento area.


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Posted by on Nov 4 2010. Filed under Books and Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Comments for “Up for a Challenge?”

  1. This is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. I’ve already written 5,423 words. Last year I did not win, but there’s something different about this year.

    This year my words are coming easier. I hope to successfully make it to the end of the month.

    This years novel is entitled “Mama Warned Me”

    It’s about a african-american family growing up in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The protagonist, “Nettie” falls in love with a local white businesses son. The son’s mother despises Nettie and plots to ruin her life.

    That’s about all I have so far..

    I’m sure though if you really thought long and hard you’d be able to come up with a subject.

    I got my inspiration from music.

  2. NaNoWriMo is quite daunting. But seeing that you can do it in the end is quite an amazing feeling for a writer. I most likely won’t be hitting 50k this year but I’m still going to go for it.

  3. Lindsey

    I’m so jealous of your successes! I’ll keep at it. Maybe by the end of the month I’ll find my way, and next year I can get to the finish line! Good luck on finishing and thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  4. Lindsey

    my thoughts exactly.

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