Writers, start revving those keyboards now. November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, just a few weeks away. The month to write by the seat of your pants starting November 1 and not stop until the end of the day on November 30 (yes, it’s a Sunday, that’s beside the point). To participate, just set your brain to stream-of-consciousness mode, place your fingers on your keyboard (I sometimes like a paper first draft, but not this month) and write. Silence the inner critic and save the editing for later. The objective of this month is to get as much down in your first draft as possible, like a monthlong timed writing session. As the NaNoWriMo site cautions: “Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing.”
Why is it a good thing? Because writing without over-planning can unlock some new story lines you might not have anticipated. Because in truth, all first drafts suck – the real story comes out in revision. So plan on using December to revise. After a short break, of course, to lend perspective. And to allow you time to recover from the post-NaNoWriMo party.
According to the NaNoWriMo site, 101,510 writers participated in 2007, with 15,333 “winners,” or writers who uploaded at least 50K to the site for verification.
But the goal is not to “win” (although they do send a certificate and Web badge). The writer’s goal is much more personal. At the end of the month, you’ll have enough words toward a good start of a novel, if not a full 50,000-word draft. (What publishers are looking for 50k novel, I wonder?) And even if you only end up with half that, it’s still a good start. It’s 25,000 words you didn’t have down before. When you break it down by day, it seems much less daunting. To reach 50,000, you need only write 1667 words a day for 30 days. Less than 2k a day! Hey, that’s not so scary.
In past years, I had many excuses not to participate – my kids were too needy, my job sucked between 40-60 hours a week from my life, I had no story ideas. This year, my kids are old enough to fend for themselves (in theory, at least), I count myself among the nation’s jobless, and my only remaining problem is: which story idea do I choose? So 2008 will be my first year.
Or, if you’d rather perfect the fine art of procrastination, check out Leigh Michaels’ article, The Top 11 Ways Not to Write Your Book.