On the Keyboard: Writing wins out over skiing, at least for this November

Sam Wagner
The Aspen Times

I have to admit, I had kind of figured that I would be writing about skiing and opening day during my first November in a ski town. In the back of my mind, I assumed that you have to have (minimum) one obligatory skiing column per year, and there would seem to be no better time than now.

I only have one issue.

To avoid boring anyone with too many details, I’ll just say that if skiing were a religion, my habit hasn’t come in the mail yet. Don’t worry; I’ll get to it next time.

Instead, I want to focus on something else I have been doing in November. For the past few years, I’ve taken part in something called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It’s an event largely stemming from a group of dedicated volunteers on the internet where you try to write at least a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Any subject and setting. Along the way, many well-known authors, editors and publishers offer coaching and encouragement.

I’ve never fully participated in the well-structured setup of online chat room pep talks and daily word goals. I also, regrettably, haven’t been able to attempt the cliche full-writer setup of an old-fashioned typewriter and a bottle of whiskey to try to channel my inner Hemingway. Instead, I’ve usually used the month as a way to refocus on something that I think can be beneficial to almost anyone.

Working on personal writing or having a way to release your inner thoughts is a valuable way to release tension while, in the process, creating a finished product that is yours. I can remember back to high school when I would have certain days where I just needed to write something down. It might have been an annoyed diatribe at someone I interacted with that day, or maybe it was some silly poem or punk-rock lyrics repeated until the page was filled.

None of those writings have survived to this day, perhaps luckily, but they all served the purpose of putting my thoughts into the world, even momentarily. Since then, writing has, on many occasions, both provided a sense of gratification and the rare quality of self-surprise.

While not everyone may need or want to be a writer or novelist, taking time every once in a while to put your thoughts or emotions on paper can be beneficial, whether or not those writings are intended to be seen by the world.

Sam Wagner is a copy editor for The Aspen Times.