Counter Programming

In May of 1999, Star Wars the Phantom Menace was released. It was highly anticipated and went on to be the highest-grossing film of the year, in the same month Notting Hill came out. It was a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The purpose of Notting Hill was not to compete with Star Wars but to serve as counter-programming. Even though the majority of the population was discussing Star Wars, there were people who did not want to see the movie and wanted to go to the movies, Notting Hill was there for them. 

   The election is Tuesday in the United States it dominates our airways, discussions, and takes up a great deal of my own mental energy. I decided that I needed to work on creating my own counter-programming. My counter-programming is my creative life. My podcast, my blog, my novel, and now National Novel Writing Month.

 On Friday I went and voted. My civic duty is done, and this is the only thing I can control. I set before me a choice, I can work on using my voice and creativity to create and put things out into the world that hopefully can contribute to healing, reconciliation, and restoration.

  National Novel Writing Month is one of those choices. This is my sixth nano and this year it is all virtual. 

 For those who don’t know the goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 in the month of November.

 There are several terms in the world of Nano that I would like to introduce you to.

  1. Planner- This is a person who spends time before Nano starts outlining the novel they intend to write in November.
  2. Pantser- This is a person who shows up on November 1 and begins to put words on a page, no plan.
  3. Planster- This is a hybrid, a person who plans, and writes as they go.
  4. Rebel- A person who isn’t there to write 50,000 words, not writing a novel, or not starting a new story.


Nano is a worldwide event. You can go on their website, and sign up for a group near where you live. Last night I kicked off my writing by going to Nanoween. It was a virtual event held by the Los Angeles Nano group. I entered into the Zoom room in costume and 11 pm, we introduced ourselves, talked about our stories, and then at Midnight, we began to write. The event ended at 1:30 am after three 20-30 minutes of writing sprints, that included breaks in between.


 I went to be rejuvenated and excited! It is fun to create and fun to create in the community. I slept for a few hours and then got up at 6 am and met with a group of writers with who I have been working within the Akimbo Workshop Writing in Community. I am going to start editing the novel I wrote during the workshop this month.


 Counter-programming keeps my mind and emotions occupied during this election season. We all should take the time to cast our votes. It is a great blessing to be able to participate in our democracy. After that, we have to surrender to whatever outcomes occur. Saying it is important over and over, won’t make it any less important or more important, and it won’t affect that outcome. Instead it will create a constant state of chronic stress and worry. Instead, do something that you can control. You can create, you can put good into the world. We can go for walks, we can look at trees, we can say high to our neighbors, we can hug someone who is close to us. Move-in that direction.  I will finish with a quote by J.K. Rowling spoken by  Newt Scamander in the novel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.-” Worrying means that you suffer twice”. 

 Below is a picture from Nanoween, and the 100th episode of The Steven Thompson Experience is out I hope you listen and subscribe.

One thought on “Counter Programming

  1. Perfect message Steven. Here in Australia our airways and discussions are all about the US election so it’s hard to imagine escaping it unless you do exactly as you suggest.
    I’m also doing NaNoWriMo again and am a hybrid Rebel-Pantser – that’s pretty cool. I’m happy with that description.
    I hope your new writing project is going well so far.

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