A place for writers to drop in, unwind, and relax between drafts. This blog is updated fortnightly.
Monday, 1 November 2010
NaNoWriMo what's it all about?
Each year in November thousands of writers worldwide sign up to National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. My understanding of it is that you sign up to commit to writing 50,000 words of fiction during the month. That works out roughly at 1667 words a day.
Now, I’m sure for some of you reading this, like me you have just taken a sharp intake of breath, thinking to yourself, how the hell can I keep that up! On top of everything else we have to fit in and around our everyday lives. Well, it’s an excellent way to force yourself to write. So let’s brainstorm it together.
It helps if you have a plot rolling around inside your head already, I do, sort of, at least I have a beginning, possibly a few scenes in the middle and a rough sketch of an ending. So maybe this is my chance to sit down and write it? But I already have a novel in progress, and some would say, “Hey...you really should be getting on with that before you start something new.” The thing is though; NaNoWriMo doesn’t really allow that, it’s against the rules. You see, you are allowed to brainstorm prior to the start, jot down an outline even sketch out a rough synopsis but they really consider it cheating if you pick up an existing manuscript. Fair enough.
So, is it worth it? I’m bad when it comes to getting on with things, and usually write, right up to the deadline on anything. I procrastinate, and then go mad to get the thing sorted out last minute. So how would I cope with NaNoWriMo?
Added to that is the little rule about not editing a word. Nope, you are not allowed to go back and edit a single word of the manuscript in progress. You are actively encouraged to plough ahead regardless if you feel you are writing complete and utter drivel. The thinking behind this is that once the month is up you can go back and re-write - as we all know that good writing, is re-writing ,and getting it down on paper in the first instance, is the main thing as far as NaNoWriMo is concerned.
I have to admit, I’ve given it some serious thinking. Even to the point of how I might attempt it, possibly breaking the word count into chunks each day, to say around 500 at a sitting.
That would mean at least four sittings a day, and it would take me, if I was on a roll, about 40 minutes at each sitting. I’m writing this at exactly that speed. I could do one session before I left the house for the day job, one at lunchtime, and two in the evening. Somehow I think I’m being a little ambitious there, but it’s one idea.
I need to dangle myself a reward too, something I really want, maybe a whole day at the spa as a reward in December. I’m confident, that would motivate me.
It’s no good rattling on about turning the TV off, as I don’t watch anything these days.And ignoring chores like cooking and cleaning is not really an option. I’ll just have to make them brief, or pass on anything I can get away with altogether.
Dealing with emails, and other forms of communication will be tricky and difficult at times, as will going to work, and doing family stuff which will be necessary. But I won’t be alone. From what I understand NaNoWrimo has a good support system in place, and I have some very good writing buddies who I know will spur me on and motivate me to try my best to get on with it. I know real life will hinder the process, but then a little voice inside my head keeps saying “Go on, try...better to try and fail, than not to try at all.”
It seems to me NaNoWriMo is about quantity of writing and not quality, but that’s okay, because I think it’s a lesson I need to learn. I need to turn off my internal editor. Stop agonising about each scene. I need to be forced to get the words out.
And then when it’s done, I know I am more than capable of going back and re writing scene after scene if necessary. I’m laughing - of course it will be necessary. But then I think, this could be a really exciting project. Imagine what I could put down in thirty days?
If I adopt a completely open approach to my writing. I may well start with one idea and then run off in a different direction altogether as often happens to many a writer.
I believe I’ll learn a lot about writing in the thirty days of NaNoWriMo, about the nuts and bolts of writing, and the whole process of putting a novel together against the clock. The question is - do I have the courage to write badly, to let ideas flow, and can I shut my inner critic up for a month? I’ll never know unless I try, will I? And remember this - no one can edit a blank page, can they?