As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month. My dear friend, M. has participated in NaNoWriMo madness for the last few years and she’s had nothing but great things to say about it. Personally, I find the space of a month much less daunting than that 3-day bloodfest of a novel writing challenge I mentioned earlier this year!
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down. – from the NaNoWriMo website.
Sounds good to me.
So, this year I figured, “what the heck, I’ll give it a whirl.”
I’ve been off and on the road since last February and I thought NaNoWriMo would give me the excuse I needed to kick-start some hot and heavy work on my next novel.
I know it’s late in the month, but if you’ve ever had dreams of penning a novel you might want to check out the site. There’s an amazing community there – writers are dicussing everything from plot twists to which snack foods can help get you through a writing marathon – and you can even sign up to have little notes of encouragement sent to your email box along the way. Pretty nifty, I’d say.
While I won’t have the novel finished by November 30 (and I may not even meet the 50,000 word goal), at least I’ve been scribbling away at it! (Gotta get cracking. I don’t want my publisher to send some Queen Latifah-like hard ass to smack me into meeting the deadline for my next novel. Pssst. If you haven’t seen the movie, Stranger Than Fiction, you should!)
Although I won’t have a polished draft by the end of November, here’s what I will have (thanks to NaNoWriMo, a lot of discipline, and many cups of tea.)
1. I’ll have a better understanding of my characters – who they are, the choices they may or may not make, where they come from, their pet peeves, their ambitions, etc.
2. I’ll have fleshed out many of the scenes that have been haunting my imagination. So many times I ‘see’ something in my head, but then I become afraid to write them down for fear they won’t work on paper. I’ve been taking the plunge and loving it!
3. I’ll have a much better feel for how the different characters interact with one another. I’ve taken this time to do something that Joan Clark calls “circling”…putting characters into different situations and then asking “what if?”
All good things. All things I need to be doing to feed the writer’s lust in me. After all, I’m mapping the road that leads to a new, intense and risky affair…my next book.
There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time. –
Kate Monster in Avenue Q