Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Will You Take the NWWTHYWM Challenge?

by Donna George Storey

NWWTHYWM? What the hell am I talking about? Allow me a few paragraphs to set the stage.

I’m sure most readers of this blog have heard of National Novel Writing Month, known fondly as NaNoWriMo. Begun in 1999, NaNoWriMo is an annual event that challenges everyone who feels they have a novel in them to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30 each year.

I know many writers who’ve tried this, and I did myself a decade ago. I’d been wanting to develop a recently published literary short story into a novel. NaNoWriMo got me cranking out the prose, but by December 1, I’d realized the short story didn’t have as much potential as I’d thought. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, it only took me a month to figure that out, so I’d say it was a good investment.

I haven’t done NaNoWriMo since because I also figured out that I do my best writing when I edit myself as I go. A slower, thoughtful pace is more satisfying to me. However, I do appreciate other aspects of the program, namely, that NaNoWriMo gives you permission just to write, intensively, day after day, for the sake of the writing itself. That permission to write without rules and self-imposed restrictions (content-wise anyway) is an appealing concept to me at this stage in my writing life.

Equal thanks for the conception of NWWTHYW must go to Lisabet Sarai and her January column here at ERWA, “Writing Commando.” Lisabet eloquently describes the published writer’s “education on the tyranny of genres, what sells and what doesn’t, what you can and cannot include in a book aimed at a particular market niche.” And yet, as she writes:

“I yearn for the freedom – the innocence – of my first years writing erotica. I've started to realize I'll never be a best seller (and I'm not even sure I want to be). So why should I care about pleasing a mass of readers? I know there are some people who'll appreciate my particular approach, my personal blend of romanticism and filth. I should strip off my official author's uniform and just write to please myself, and them.”

“Hear, hear,” I actually said aloud as I read this passage. Writing just to please myself and the audience who “gets” me? But... what would that even mean? Then I got to thinking--what if erotica writers, or all writers as a matter of fact, banded together to join in a Write Whatever the Hell You Want Month? (Feel free to change the “H” to an “F.”)

Yes, Fellow Writers, that’s one whole month when you can write whatever the hell you want without feeling you have to meet some external standard of worth or profitability. Your ending doesn’t have to be happy or edgy or ambivalent--it can be as many of these things as you can manage. The protagonist doesn’t have to be attractive or likeable or complex or sexy. There can be as much or as little sex as you like and the length can be “too” long or short. The taboos—and isn’t it interesting that supposedly transgressive erotic expression has more publishers’ rules than any other genre?--need not apply because publication and pleasing someone else is not the goal here.

The goal is simply to please yourself. For one whole month.

Yet, even after happily fantasizing about the idea of NWWTHYWM (or should it be “NaWriWhaTHeYouWaMo”?) for about a month, I’m still not even sure what I would write if I truly could write whatever I wanted. Which is, perhaps, the very reason I should try it.

Won't you join me?

Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

24 comments:

  1. I'm in Donna but . . . what month starts with W? Am I missing something?

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  2. Love the idea, Donna! Shall we start March 1st? Should we publicize it? I'll bet we'd have a lot of takers.

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  3. What a terrifying yet interesting idea. I'm intrigued.

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  4. Woo hoo, very glad you're all interested! Maybe March 1 is good because... why wait?! To the extent I imagined doing this, there wouldn't be word counts or daily requirements or anything, just try to write something with the goals each person sets for him/herself (a short story, a poem, so many words of a novel draft). NaNoWriMo is of necessity more regulated, but this would be, well, whatever the hell you want :).

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  5. I already do write what I want to, which is why I'll never be on the best-seller lists. I write the books I want to read. But I fear that my other job and family responsibilities make it impossible for me to meet any daily/monthly word count. I write when I can't ignore the voices in my head anymore.

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  6. Indeed, why wait? It's usually my policy when I'm between contracts for books to do exactly this, write whatever the hell I want, whether that's fanfiction or experimental stories or what. If I only wrote "to market" I'd go insane.

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    1. Fiona and Cecilia, I'm really inspired by your words. I must say I've never written a story I didn't believe in, but I have felt my options have gotten narrower because I'm playing it safe. This is my way of giving myself a little push beyond my self-established boundaries.

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  7. It's one of the most fun things you can do the month of Nano. I think we are rarely that unconscious when we are writing for this genre. It's so unplanned, with that crazy deadline daily. The deadline was incredible structure. Like a corset in a way. LOL! But I can only do that kind of output during November. It would be too much!

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    1. What I had in mind would be to write what you want, no specific deadlines or external goals--and to that degree it wouldn't need any structure. I do know what you mean about Nanowrimo. There was a crazy rhythm to it that was a kind of liberation, like a corset!

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  8. Really? No Rules? We'd get thrown off the net with some of the funky-assed stuff I got running through my head.

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    1. Go for it! That's what this is all about :).

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  9. Please count me in. I look forward to starting on March 1st. Will there be any support structure like in Nanowrimo? I rather liked the buddy system and having a place where everyone congregated and cheered each other on. Would ERWA be able to have a page for this by any chance?

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    1. I'll check with Lisabet. I don't think we have the resources to do what Nano does, which after all was developed over many years, but we might be able to get a group going to discuss the process.

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    2. Any support and community would be appreciated. Thank you!

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  10. I'm intrigued. Would we post privately, just to other members of the group? I hope you and/or Lisabet keep us updated.

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  11. I always WWTHIW anyway, so count me in, too. :-)

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  12. Okay, so what kind of "support" are you thinking of? A place to share progress? (But if you're writing whatever you want, how do you define progress?) A place to share snippets or excerpts? Word counts? List of rules broken?

    Does no rules mean no goals? Probably not, right? Does no rules mean not writing for a particular call? I have two lesbian calls on my hot list right now, and I've been really wanting to write more lesbian fiction since its a no-no in erotic romance land - does that count?

    Or do we just define this for ourselves?

    Please share your thoughts!

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    1. I would find it helpful to have a place to check in every day. In addition to that, I believe it's beneficial to have a place where we can contact others involved in the group. Thanks!

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    2. Robin! Go here...

      http://erotica-readers.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

      You can also reach this page from the link at the top of the right sidebar. I will be making an official announcement tomorrow (March 1)

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  13. I'm in but I follow Leicht's Laws the first law is: Writing is for you. Am I still eligible?

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  14. I'm excited that this resonates with other writers, even if you're already a lucky WingWTHYW person.

    Again, although Nanowrimo is a distant model, I propose that the goal, word-count, rules you're "breaking," all be self-selected. I'd also favor casual support, like a group where we can have threads on goals, what's new or not about writing what you want, share excerpts if you want. But nothing really fancy. Oh, and anyone is eligible as long as they are respectful of others' choices (sort of goes without saying, but I said it).

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  15. I'm in. I'm up for however you all want to do it.

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  16. Okay, it all starts March 1st right here!

    Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section--and thanks Lisabet for your support.

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