I Smell NaNo in the Air

Today is September 18, midway through the September and only 43 days until November 1. What’s so special about November 1, you ask? Well, that’s the day that kicks off NaNoWriMo. Or NaNo. Or National Novel Writing Month! Woo! An entire month dedicated to breakneck speed writing. To hell with content and editing, just get those words down on paper. Worry about cleaning up the mess later, preferably AFTER November 30, or the end of NaNo.

Let me explain a little further. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge for all authors and would-be authors designed to  kickstart our creative efforts. The goal is to write a novel–60,000 words–in 30 days. What?!? Yes, that’s right, a full novel in a month. And not even a long month either. November is one of the shorter ones with only 30 days. Thank goodness the person who came up with this crazy notion didn’t  set it for February.

If you jump over to the NaNo website, you’ll find a pretty elaborate set up. They have forums set up for those of you who find inspiration in online comraderie. They have local moderators, assuming you’re willing to identify where you live, who arrange group writing sessions. These are fashioned after all-night cram sessions made popular by college students everywhere. They even have a nifty word count widget that tracks your progress throughout the month. This little tool is pretty motivating to me. I like seeing the bar move from empty to full.

I attempted NaNo a couple of years ago, but got sidelined by the pesky burdens of real life (imagine something so trivial as family getting in the way of writing. The horors.). I made it about half way through for word count very early in the month, but then had to abandon the project for more practical pursuits, like paying my mortgage. And, in fairness, I am accustomed to writing for purpose, to being edited at some point in the process. When I attempted NaNo, I got so far off course from my original story that I couldn’t imagine how to get back on track without a massive rewrite. I already KNOW I can write a novel against a tight deadline. So what was the point of writing 60k words that would never be published when I could simply slow down, take two or three months, and write one that would.

I’m thinking about giving it a go again this year. I have the uninterupted schedule time available, and I’ve had too many ideas to count roaming around in my head for the past two years. I checked out the website, updated my profile. All that’s left is the writing. And, of course, the massive amounts of plotting and outline that needs to take place prior to NaNo in order to complete the project successfully.

What about the rest of y’all? Thinking about giving NaNo a go-go this time around?

4 comments

  1. I love doing NaNo. My newest novel, Out of the Past, was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo and I hope my next novel will be the one I started two years ago. I do plan on doing NaNo again this year, but unlike past years I have no idea what I’m going to write about. Usually by now I have a notebook full of notes and ideas and pictures but this year has been one of those years.

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  2. It’s a great time, NaNoWriMo. You meet some groovy people, read some cool stuff (most people post excerpts of their works-in-progress), and get writing tips and support from each other and from the big-name writers who are involved. I’ve written two manuscripts during two separate NaNoWriMos, and I highly recommend it, not only to those of us who have been writing manuscripts for a while, but to people looking for inspiration to just do it and crank one out. I think it helps introduce people to what this writing stuff is all about — developing a schedule to complete a manuscript in a set time period gets you thinking about deadlines and pacing, and about figuring out how to balance the other things going on in your life with a word count per day (or however you choose to approach it).

    It helps you get that draft onto paper, so that you can then continue working with it. After all, 99 percent of writing is re-writing. Once you get that draft done, then begins the next stage of development in the manuscript’s evolution. Even if you don’t do anything with the manuscript that you churn out during November, you’ve learned something about what you can do if you set your mind to it, and how to carve out some time to do just that. I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo.

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