Writing Exercises: "The Kamikaze Approach"

Before we address what in the world this title means, let's take a moment and realize where we're at in the year. It's October, which means it is pre-prep time for November! For those of you who don't know, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving prep because that would mean I would be ignoring Halloween, and God forbid that ever happens.

No, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo!!! NaNoWriMo is an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month, a month were (via NaNoWriMo's official webpage) thousands of writers globally log in to achieve an important goal: writing 50,000 words of your novel in one month. The website is armed with a staff to help you in any way you need and there are prizes for your success! Aside from simply advancing in your writing projects, of course. I'll let you go on the website to see what prizes are in store for yourselves because this is definitely something you need to get pumped for.

During the summer there have been two Camp NaNoWriMo sessions this year, both of which I have been apart of. The link to that website is right here. So for those of you who have yet to join a NaNoWriMo session, this is definitely the year to do so. Get to dusting off your writing battle stations, buy all the coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages you need, and dangle that "do not disturb" sign wherever it needs to go because NaNoWriMo is back!

Now we can address the title. What in God's name is The Kamikaze Approach and is there room to be offended? I'll tell you and no, it is in no way a racial slur so put away those itchy fingers hovering over your keyboards.

The Kamikaze Approach to writing is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. It's implicated often by NaNoWriMo for a very specific reason. The challenge of 50,000 words only depends solely on quantity of words, not quality. When you complete the challenge, all that is left is to edit what 50,000 you managed to deposit into the challenge, with the added bonus of receiving the recognition and bragging rights!

The Kamikaze Approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks and write on the fly. You'll understand why this is as you work your way through the definition provided below. Before I provide for you the definition of the Kamikaze Approach however, it is important to reinstate the nature of a first draft. Author Anne Lamott comments on this topic in an excellent way in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Lamott points out how "the first draft is the child draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later."

Without further delay, let's get to it:

The Kamikaze Approach

The Kamikaze Approach is a writing discipline that has five advantages to its practice.

1) Unleashes creativity:

It gives your right brain full rein. Anne Lamott compared it to a child's creativity when coloring in a coloring book. That's your job when writing, color in your coloring book.

2) Motivates by productivity:

A furious first draft motivates you by sheer volume of writing. "I wrote a thousand words!" is so much more motivating than hearing, "I edited my chapter all day." Positive reinforcement, get cracking on your quantity, its an awesome feeling when your word count goes from six hundred words to two thousand.

3) White-water rafting on the page:

The adrenaline kicks in because you know what awaits around the bend.

Listen to the Pocahontas song if you have to, no one will judge you. You're going with the flow here, don't stop to edit.

4) Big-picture vista:

Good manuscripts depend on where the elements of the narrative connect, intersect and echo each other. Finishing that first draft will give you plenty to work with.

5) Differentiate from your workplace process:

If you spend most of your working days at a desk you're often exposing yourself to a situation where the sentences you write down have to consistently be correct. Get out of that backdrop and run to your writing battle station. or alternatively, shake things up further and grab a picnic blanket, pack a lunch with your journal in hand and head to the park.

Five reasons the Kamikaze Approach will work for you:

1) You love and are motivated by a clearly defined challenge or word count

2) You'll be undertaking a challenge to work under pressure

3) You'll get competitive with your own averages

4) You'll get yourself to become more accustomed to high stakes and racing to a finish line.

NaNoWriMo's just around the corner so use what you've learned and get prepping and prepping for your 50,000 word challenge!!!

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