NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. No, it’s not a month set aside to appreciate the fine art of writing novels, it’s actually supposed to be a month where you sit down and write a novel. An actual novel, in one month.
Sounds ridiculous, right? And after all, a serious novelist knows she’ll have to write during every month, not just November, which is the one month set aside for NaNoWriMo. The point, though, is to concentrate fully on writing 50,000 words during the thirty days of November in order to have a rough draft of a full length novel in one month. Without going back to edit, revise or delete, you should be able to write, at a rate of 1666.66666666 etc. words per day, a novel that can be revised and edited later.
I’ve tried this, many times. I’ve failed miserably each time. I just can’t not tinker with my words the next day, and the day after that, and then some more the next week.
I’m also miserable at plotting. Plot points come to me while I’m editing scenes, when I realize that the character who just walked into the room might have something important to say about whatever is happening on the page. In fact he or she may even be a long-lost sister or wife or parent. I’m not kidding. This is a terrible way to write. I don’t recommend it.
I’ve not signed up for NaNoWriMo for several years, since I can no longer fool myself into thinking that something terrible will happen to me if I don’t write 1666.6 words every day, or 50,000 words in 30 days. This, I think, is key. You have to buy into the concept that if you fail at NaNoWriMo you’re a completely worthless human being, and will never become a novelist.
Or at least that you won’t become a novelist who writes rough drafts in 30 days.
That said, I may just sign up for it this year, because I do have motivation to finish my next novel. I’ve got about 7 or 8 chapters, but this WIP has been sitting in my hard drive so long (while I worked on revisions these last few months) that it’s grown cold. Maybe a fresh start will work. I’ll be happy if I can wrestle another 30k out of my keyboard. (Most of my books are right around the 90k word mark.)
This one actually has a sub-plot. (Why I’m including a sub-plot when I can’t even handle one plot, I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the guy who rolled his wheelchair into a room and convinced me he had a story that was vital to the plot.)
Poking around the NaNoWriMo site, I notice they’ve now got some neat tools. Maybe I’ll try it with a widget this time.
There’s even NaNoWriMo merchandise! Maybe I’ll get a t-shirt, or some pencils. I notice they don’t sell an eraser… Hmmm.
So maybe you’ll see me in November, bundled up in my NaNoWriMo hoodie and stabbing those errant characters with my NaNoWriMo pencil set.