NaNoWriMo?

For the past two years I've pondered participating in [NaNoWriMo][1], but have so far failed to take the plunge. This year, however, that all changes.When I first heard of NaNoWriMo, I loved the idea and immediately signed up for a user account on the site. However, as Day 1 would get closer, I'd find myself second-guessing the decision to participate and for the past two years I've let November pass by without writing my first novel. FOR SHAME!My problem was just that I thought about it too much. I started to do the math and tried to figure out how many words I'd need to write a day and how well that'd fit into my work schedule and the conclusions I came to scared me. I figured if I really put my mind to it I could pull it off, but not without some very late nights, busy weekends and I let the Fear get the best of me. And, of course, as you can expect the middle of November would come and I'd be regretting my decision. That all changes this year. This year, I'm going to start. That's right, I'm going to start! I won't make any promises to finish, but on November 1, 2007, I'll sit down and try to write the first few thousand words of my first novel. (Like, how I added 'first' in there? I, like a lot of people, think I've got a few unwritten novels in my head.) And the plan is after Day 1, I'll start again on Day 2 and just see what happens.Now, just vowing to start is admittedly not a very impressive statement. However, I think by vowing to at least start NaNoWriMo, no matter what happens, I'll be saving myself from another year of finding myself in late-November wishing I had given it a shot. I've noticed a few comments on other L.com blogs referencing NaNoWriMo, so if there is anyone reading that plans to participate or have done so in the past, feel free to share your thoughts on the project and any advice you can provide to help get me psyched for Day 1. I've already got a good idea of what I'd like to write about, though don't have my story arch completely mapped out. What else do I need to give myself the best chance of finishing? [1]: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Comments

Chris Tackett 14 years, 10 months ago

well, crap. now i just feel foolish. a few of the links above are already filled with advice and discussion about nanowrimo. i'm not only late to the party, but i brought stale beer.

oh well, gotta start sometime. if you want to rehash some of the good ol days of nanowrimos past, here's the place.

scary_manilow 14 years, 10 months ago

"What else do I need to give myself the best chance of finishing?"

Amphetimines help. I'm not joking.

I've got my shit outlined and have my whole first paragraph (the hardest one, always) mapped out in my head. I'm gonna finish this year, dammit!

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 14 years, 10 months ago

Yup, gonna be doing it.

Unlike Rob, I don't advise amphetamines (unless you've got some, and in that case, QUIT HOLDING OUT, YOU SELFISH TWIT!!!). Myself, I just go through a half-gallon of bourbon a week while I'm doing this project.

Seriously, though, just start writing. For me, the beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it makes us tie our internal editors up and stash them in a closet for a month. When you're so focused on that word count, and it's in a form that no-one else will read unless you want them to, then it's a lot easier to just let go and let the words flow. Or force them to, whatever the case may be. Sure, you're not going to turn out a whole 50,000 words of tightly-crafted prose, but you'll have gotten that kick in the ass that made you get started on the freakin' story----the craft shit comes later, when you edit and revise.

UKept 14 years, 10 months ago

Some interesting things come out of writing faster than you think you should--your characters do things that you might have stopped them from doing if you thought about it too much, events that may have been insignifigant in your pre-planning become integral to the story, and for every sentence that makes you rue the day you decided to write, you come up with a phrase, or an idea, or a story turn that really work in a way you haven't planned.

You also write a boatload of crap. But that's just an added bonus.

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 14 years, 10 months ago

Chris, I hear you. I suggest that you save each day/night's work and then only look at the very end of it if you need to to get back into the groove. Leave every single word you've written alone until the end of the month. Just pound the fuckers out. I think you'll find that when you go back through it in December, you'll find little glimmering bits of goodness that just make you piss yourself, they're so brilliant. And that makes cutting out the 800 surrounding words much less painful ;)

Chris Tackett 14 years, 10 months ago

...you say "end of the month" w/ such nonchalantness it frightens me. :)

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 14 years, 10 months ago

Hey, I'm female, my internal rythym works on a monthly schedule. When I wake up one morning and suddenly feel completely different from what I felt a day and a half ago, I just go, "huh. That was cool, I guess I'll keep an eye out for it again next month."

Oh, you meant being intimidated by a whole month's worth of obsessive writing. It's so much more fun than you'd think. Plus, it gives you a great excuse for ANYTHING.

"Hey, can you take my shift on Friday night?" "Sorry, dude, it's November, if I don't get in my 1500 words tonight, I'll never catch up." "What does that have to do with it?" "Well, I signed up for this thing, and I have a month to write a novel or they're going to come and cut my balls off for being a pussy who can't put his keyboard where his big fat mouth is." "'kay, dude, whatever. So November's out, then?" "Pretty much."

Well, besides that admittedly melodramatic scenario, there's just something . . . I don't know, the fourteen-year-old in you who used to believe that when you were this age you'd either be knee-deep in cocaine and hookers because you'd sold so many books (heh), or starving in a garret with an old manual typewriter and a pack of Lucky Strikes for the sake of your art, that kid gets to feel justified for a while, when you politely snarl at all of your other obligations with the nearly-mystical "I'm writing a novel this month, I need some time" line. No matter if the words never see the light of day, NaNoWriMo gives all of us dilletantes the fleeting sensation that we're really, truly, seriously dedicated artists laboring over our masterpieces. And that's fucking priceless. I know that my experience with it two years ago has fueled my writing process ever since. I cheated, though--I was writing a memoir, not a novel. I've since gotten some sort-of-serious responses from agents and publishers about it, but it's shelved until my parents are worm-food. Just one of those things.

This time around, I'm making up a story from scratch, something I haven't done for nearly fifteen years. I'm a little scared about this NaNoWriMo, too, because I'm not sure I have 50,000 words of original story in me.

But I've never backed down from a fucking challenge. And that's the beauty of this project, it's a competition against yourself, and nobody else--the perfect competitor, the most merciless and viscious you'll find.

Do it. Even if you "fail" by missing the word-count mark, you'll have still set yourself out there in the borderlands to see what you can see, and record. There is no "fail" where this is concerned. It will change the way you write, and the way you believe you can write, in only the most positive of ways.

Oh, and for those of you who care---check the NaNoWriMo boards for the thread I set up for Lawrence.com participants. This should be a party, dammit.

Chris Tackett 14 years, 10 months ago

Misty, losing the internal editor is what i'm most excited about.

UKept, thanks for the tip. Are you participating, as well?

Chris Tackett 14 years, 9 months ago

misty, would love to read your memoirs if you ever want to share them. i'd thought a little bit of doing that, but also thought it was kinda cheating and knew i wouldn't want to share them for years. but i'm interested to know how you arranged the book, was it sequential? and was each chapter a complete story or memory?

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