January 27th, 2007

nanowrimo: in soviet russia

The bathroom can lead to the most interesting thoughts.

When I was in the bathroom an hour or so ago, I realized that the typical four-year college life is a bit like NaNoWriMo. Yes, really. Four years in college, four weeks (roughly) in NaNoWriMo.

The first week, like the first year, is full of excitement. Everyone comes charging in, excited about the task ahead and the goal at the end. Everything is new, shiny, and ready to be explored. You take some classes, you start your storyline, and if you have no idea what's going on, it's perfectly okay because everyone's in the same boat. Some people will try to get ahead of others; some people get more into college life or NaNo life than others, but all of them are living their lives. This is what matters.

Second year, like in the second week, the wall comes: the wall of apathy, the wall of writer's block. It's the time where you have no idea where you want to go, where you feel directionless and you wonder what on earth you got yourself into because you need to make some really big decisions and soon. There's a legendary Sophomore Slump in NaNoWriMo too, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the Week Two wall and the Sophomore Slump in college. This is where I am now. I'm stuck, just like I've gotten stuck in my stories so many times before. In NaNoWriMo, it's as easy as pulling out a plot twist or letting Mr. Ian Woon cameo or incorporating a dare into your work. This usually comes toward the end of the week, but more than likely it comes during...

Third Year. Or Week Three, for those following the NaNo analogy. This is the time where stuff actually happens. Those decisions you tried to make in Week Two? If you didn't make them then, they start to fall into place now. Things start to pick up. You have a reason to keep going; after all, you're past the halfway point now! You have a goal for the end of this session, though: a goal to make the finish line reachable. With this in hand, we enter...

The Last Year, Or The Last Week. The end is in sight now. It's time to start celebrating; whether you're celebrating your accomplishment or the fact that you attempted something that you otherwise wouldn't have done, you deserve to celebrate. So many people don't even make it this far. Now it's time to make that last plot twist, or take the last few courses, or do those last few things that you always wanted to do but never got around to doing. Now that so much of the challenge is behind you, you might want to think of what to do after it's all over. Some people do this during the Third Session. Some people are lucky enough to enter the First Session with an idea. The rest of us have some work to do, though.

And at the end there is much rejoicing, for we overcame everything stopping us from our common goal.

I hear the protests now, though. What about those who take another year to graduate? Or those who graduate early?

Well, we can incorporate them easily. I don't discriminate. Lots of people keep working on their novels after NaNo, but they usually don't work on them at the rate that they did in November. The same is true of many people who take another year to graduate. As for the other case, lots of people also finish their novels early, accelerating this timetable by quite a bit. So it still works. I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting, though, as I'm apt to do.