I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again this year. I had thought I was going to pass on it this time around. I’m busy this time of year. I have a pretty solid writing routine. I’m motivated to write. There are all sorts of reasons not to commit to it, but in the end I couldn’t resist all the fun.
I love the enthusiasm and energy that surrounds the endeavor. It’s cool to be part of a community. There’s lots of support to be found and when your energy runs low there are plenty of opportunities for a boost and some encouragement.
There’s also something to be said for the power of a clear goal and a deadline.
The NaNo challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. They encourage you to squash your inner editor (that judgmental voice that can freeze up a writer). The idea is to get words down on the page. Don’t worry if it is good or bad—just write.
It can be very liberating.
I will confess that while I admire the sentiment, I’ve never been able to fully embrace the far edges of the approach. I’m a more considered, deliberate writer. I will go for word count, but I can’t quite get myself to write too much nonsense. I also adhere to the notion that 50,000 words is a bit short for a novel. It is, however, a damned fine start and a great accomplishment.
I guess I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. The best thing is---the NaNo community is pretty cool with all that. At the end of the day, it’s all about the creativity and the writing. I love that.
I first attempted NaNo in 2010. I had been toying with idea of writing a novel, but hadn’t mustered up the courage. I gave it a shot and only got a couple thousand words. FAIL.
I tried again the following year with a new project. That went better, but I ran out of steam at 38,000 or so words.
In 2012 I gave it “one last shot.” And I made it. I wrote 50,000 words. I was a rebel, because I continued the novel I had begun the previous NaNo. I still counted it as a win because the 50,000 words were new. I credit a lot of my success to the people I met at a NaNo meeting held at an awesome independent bookstore in my town, Robots & Rogues.
A core section of those people formed a writing group. It was an unexpected and most welcome bonus.
After November I continued to work on the novel. I got great feedback from my writing group. I worked hard on editing. My manuscript is now complete at 98,000 words.
I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy on short stories lately. That is rewarding and very valuable. I think my writing has improved because of it. I have a good number of stories I’ve been sending out. I can keep doing that. I can keep revising them.
But…I’ve been putting off dealing with the bigger stories that have been rattling around in my head. I think it’s time to take one on.
NaNo may be the push I need.
I’ve put myself in a tough spot by deciding to do this one day ago. I don’t have a solid outline or a clear plan. But I’ve been dreaming about these characters and their story for quite some time now. I think I need to plunge in and just put some words down.
A little exploratory writing might not be a terrible thing for me. We’ll see. I tend to like to work in a space in-between a detailed outline and exploration anyway. I'm hoping that starting to write will enable me to see a clear path to new areas to outline. It will be an adventure, whatever happens.
If all of this madness is enticing—welcome! Join! Do it.
They make it pretty easy to start. You can sign up for free on their website. There, you can find a community of participants. There are discussion forums, helpful pep-talks, advice, and a handy tracker for your progress. At the end of the month you paste your novel into a word counter and it records your victory. (The novel itself isn’t stored).
Midnight is just hours away. I’ve got lots of work ahead of me.
Good luck to all!
Thanks for reading.