Category Archives: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo Is Awesome

It’s November 30, which means all across the planet everywhere, butchers, bakers, candle-stick makers, and regular people like you and me are crossing the finish line and becoming novelists.  If you are one of them, MAJOR kudos, for realz.  In honor of my not writing a novel this year, I dedicate this short opposite-of-a-rant about me and NaNoWriMo.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo on Nov.1, 2009 when a friend facebooked a link to http://www.nanowrimo.org.  I instantly loved everything about it.  The idea that you could write a 175 page novel in a month.  The fact that anyone could do it.  The realization that there is no mojo involved – all it would take was about 2 hours of typing a day.  My noveling Everest was just there, and I had to take it down.  I started my novel the next day, and by Nov. 30 had proudly crossed the 50,000 word mark.

Big Winner with 50251 words!

The vast majority of what I wrote was total pants, as you would expect.  I was writing without a plan, a plot, or even well-defined characters.  But every day or two, or every 4000 words or so, I’d manage to actually write an interesting plot twist, a clever insult, an insightful metaphor.  My characters would start talking to each other without my intervention and fill themselves out.  The ridiculous deadline imposed by this totally-optional-but-once-you-start-you-don’t-want-to-fail activity had forced my brain into producing nuggets of almost-art simply by denying the self-conscious/editing/rational/fearful other part of my brain any time to do its thing.

By the end of the month, I realized that if you did this every day for long enough, eventually you could generate enough good material to piece together an actual (aka publishable) novel.  Just cut out the bad stuff, elaborate on the good, edit, edit, edit.  As it turns out, even a mammoth task like novel writing is really just a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other discipline like anything else.  I did some poking around on writers’ blogs and found out that in fact, writers just sit down and write. Every. Single. Day.

Nanowrimo 2010 winner

Won again in 2010! My novel was written entirely in the last 10 days, which encompassed a visit by my family, a trip to Vancouver, and three painfully long days of wedding dress shopping. Oddly enough, my second novel was better than my first. Better premise, better characters, better plot, better epic-ness. I credit late nights, early mornings, a doubled wpm, and the discovery of the best sandwich cafe ever: The Essential Bakery in Seattle.

In summary:
Less Thinking, More Typing.  Whatever it is, Just Do It y’all.

 

Learning to say no: NoNoWriMo

I’m taking a stand, daring to say no. 1667 words and a 17 chapter outline later, I’m declaring this November to be Not Novel Writing Month.

Far and wide across the lands, hundreds of thousands of people are embarking on a noveling journey. Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month – time to throw caution aside and recklessly write a novel in a month.

Nanowrimo.org explains it much sexier than I could:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To give yourself permission to write without obsessing over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To stop being one of those people who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” and become one of those people who can say, “Oh, a novel? It’s such a funny story–I’ve written three.”

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins 12:00:01 November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at 11:59:59. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

What bookworm nerd girl could say no to all that?

Well, after writing my first novel in 2009, and a second in 2010, I’m putting my foot down. I have other goals this month, and to achieve them I’m going to have to learn to say no. It’s not really a matter of time – I could certainly carve out writing sessions throughout my day – it’s just that I (yes, even I) only have so many psychological resources. If I’m really going to start a business and/or work on my social skills and/or blog more, I need to say no to mentally draining activities like this. Maybe I could train for a triathlon or take up yoga, but NO NOVEL WRITING!

Can you tell that I’m trying to reinforce this to myself? You might think it’s too late for me since we are well into the month. But in November 2010, after 20 days of actively NOT writing a novel, I gave in to the gnawing anxiety that I was going to die with my music inside and thusly wrote the entire thing in 10 days. Not this year. This year I’m going to utterly dominate at SAYING NO!

(Coming soon, another post on why I love Nanowrimo and what it’s taught me about life.  Don’t worry though, I’m not writing a novel even if I remember how awesome it is.)