November brings one of my favorite times of year. No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving: I’m talking about NaNoWriMo. For those who haven’t encountered this squirrely acronym before, it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal? To write 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th.
Yes, it’s a form of insanity. But for me, NaNoWriMo is more than an important part of my work. It’s a month filled with magic.
Writing has always been deeply tied to my spiritual practice, and over the years, I’ve come to realize that the act of crafting a story or an article is, for me at least, a direct expression of magic. If we acknowledge that “magic is the art of changing consciousness at will”, something I hold very dear, then it stands to reason that the act of shaping a world out of symbols on a page is a magical act.
As my writing has grown and shifted and my expectations have changed, NaNoWriMo has become more than a month of wild story play (although that’s a hugely important part of this time of year for me, too): it’s become a lesson each year. As in any magical act, the craft of storytelling takes discipline, and so far this year, my NaNoWriMo project is helping me restructure my time and recommit to my writing each and every day. It feels so good to be writing again on a daily basis, and my spirit lifts in much the same way as it does during my nightly gratitude meditation at my altar. It’s also an amazing time for tapping into the shared subconscious; so many other writers are pounding out words this month, and the energy wave is tangible, something that I can feel pushing me along, even when I’m tired, even when I want to make excuses. Although my writing is a mostly solitary endeavor, in November I get a similar buzz from the global community that I feel after a particularly powerful session of group energy raising.
I’ve also learned to approach the physical work of the writing in much the same way that I approach my solitary ritual practice; my writing space is a shrine to inspiration, with titles and trinkets surrounding me that are charged with positive energy. Even when I don’t write at the same time each day, I have my preparatory rituals in place; open the blinds, clean the kitchen, and make a cup of coffee or tea before I sit down and fall into my story. The act of writing is trance-like, too, and often I’ll look up to find that hours have passed while the words spin out of me from some unknown place. It’s not the same trance I felt the first time I danced a spiral dance, but it’s incredibly similar.The sense of play, of rules falling away, that NaNoWriMo brings is a yearly reminder of how much I need to listen to my “younger self”, an idea Starhawk puts forward in the context of working magic. It’s so easy to get bogged down by intellect, but the magic I tap into when I conjure words requires me to be open to my child self, and part of that is the permission to play. NaNoWriMo gives me that permission; I’ve been writing long enough to know that anything I produce this month will need a lot of work before I’m ready to show it to anyone else, but that doesn’t matter. November is about throwing words on the page and reveling in the act of creation. The clean up can come later; right now, I’m playing.
Art is magic, and magic is art, and this month, I’m recommitting myself to both.
photo courtesy of shutterstock: shutterstock.com