Friday, November 1, 2013

Ready, Set, NaNo

It's this time of the year again - National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It's started as a bit of a fringe movement, but according to the website here, there are more than 210,000 people registered to write their 50,000 words during November. And that's only the ones that are signed up, so the true number will be several times larger.

I've only "won" NaNo once, and it's a drama - as you veer from elation to panic to exhaustion to giddy hysteria. And eventhen I cheated somewhat. I picked up a manuscript I'd started, added 50k, and then it took me three months to "find" the ending. So, strictly speaking, I cheated. I did sell the book to a publisher, though. Since then, NaNo has weirdly always caught me by surprise - despite the fact that it's always in Novem,ber. Usually I was in the process of wrestling a novel across the finishing line, and it's true this year too: I'm still wrapping up Scorpion3 and on't havethe headspace to start a new book. I will try to commit to a symbolic 1,667 words/day goal, though, so I'm doing it by proxy this year. Kind of.

Other people are much more prolific and take NaNo overall way more seriously. Here's an excellent blog post from my partner in Market Garden, LA Witt: My Not Very Reliably Annual But Still Hopefully Useful Pre-NaNo Pep Talk. NaNo can be life-changer, especially when you're hovering in that weird space between "I should/want to write a book" and "I'm actually writing". Try it. Try it for the fun.

And the old hands - doing NaNo might feel like going back to school. (Let me explain that one: German authorities recently caught a dude who'd done his finals in school AGAIN - only he was already a medical doctor and had done his school finals (the exam that determines whether you can go to uni in Germany) a few decades again. He passed with a C overall and now seems to have got ambitious - he wants to better that "next time".) So, yeah, like going back to school, just with a bit of ambition this time round. Many published authors live and die by their wordcount; I think it could be fun to devote NaNo to the one crazy project that's been lurking in the back of your head - the one "nobody" is interested in but you. That's what my plan was for this month, anyway.

In case you are tempted, but don't have a plot or your "idea" isn't ready yet, I just read a book by esteemed colleague EM Lynley, who wrote a short e-book on the basics of plotting and planning for NaNo: How To Be A NaNoWriMo Winner. It should equip you with everything you need to get enough of a plot skeleton sorted in a couple of days. A little bit of planning does go a long way and saves time in the long run.

But regardless of where in the journey you are, what your goals are, and why you take part: I'm wishing you all the best on that rollercoaster. I might join you once I'm done with my current book (which means I'll start a week late). Hook up with friends who are also doing NaNo. Brag. Whine. It's all part of the journey.

Good luck!

3 comments:

Tara Spears said...

I am doing Nano if only to find that drive. My last years project still sits in a file folder unfinished but I managed to keep my pace for almost two months following Nano and finished Trey Grey. It is like school and sometimes even those of us who have written for a bit need that push, when there is no one in the house to give it to you. However, with that said, I never expect anything spectacular to come from my November romp of madness. I just hope to unlock the doors upon doors that have closed in my mind of late.

Susinok said...

I bought EM Lynley's book at GRL and I'm using it to make more of a plan. I am also cheating, picking up a Nano book I started in 2011 and got to 37,000 words before I ran out of steam and ideas.

katepavelle said...

I'll use the energy of NaNo to finish one of my three WIPs, as well as add to a sequel to a currently published book. I'm elbows-deep right now, and loving every second of it. Taking online seminars with best-selling authors got me inspired to take my effort to a true pro level. Best wishes to everyone! Write well, stretch afterward.

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