And it’s National Novel Writing Month.
I know I blog (a little obsessively) about this twice per year, but I am still going to tell any uninitiated readers what NaNoWriMo is. NaNoWriMo is always in November (which makes October, affectionately and unofficially, NaNoPlaMo, or National Novel Planning Month). NaNo hosts a great website where authors and aspiring authors can go and register the novel that they will be working on in November. Then, each writer has from November 1-November 30 to write 50,000 words toward their goal. NaNo tracks you, sends you inspirational emails, allows other writers to connect with you, and verifies your count (which better be before midnight on the 30th, and can be slightly different from Word). They also provide widgets and a NaNo store full of tees, journals, mugs, the usual swag. Their prizes for “winning” are a little lame, but that’s not the point, at all.
After Camp NaNoWriMo last April (yes, this does happen again in the summer), my husband suggested that I never do NaNo again. I am a mom, among other things, and our house and lives got ca-razy, I admit. Then again, I had half of a brand-new novel. I decided I would meet him half-way. 1) I will work on a book that I am already working on, something that is in full-swing and for which I already have an outline and a looming deadline. 2) I will not sweat falling behind on my word count in favor of sending the kids to school with clean clothes and food in their lunch pails. That’s half-way, isn’t it?
So, in celebration of the looming NaNoWriMo, I want to share four of the things I love most about it.
NaNo encourages authors and aspiring writers to write. And to be in community. Writing can be an extremely solitary job, so imposed deadlines are handy dandy. Also, so many people are out there sitting on a book idea, but no one is saying to them, “Now is the time.” NaNo does that.
I. Love. The. Graphs. I am sure I have shared this before. It is so nice to watch as you eke up the graph each day. And it’s really helpful to know, on any given day, what you need to average to “win” your goal. I wish I had more graphs in my writing life. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure, when I started this over a year ago, that I could write 50,000 words in one month. I am not, really, a fast writer, partly because I am a careful and thoughtful writer. (We all have different styles of first-drafting it.) I thought that perhaps I was going to have to pull out the old typewriter in order to hit 50,000 in a month, so that I could not edit as I went. I was shocked, then, when I pulled out a day at 3000 words… then 4000 words… then 5000 words! It made me more aware of my capabilities (and my need for stamina, as I had to buy a mic, install voice-to-text software, and ice my hands for 48 hours).
I also love all the words that are on the page at the end of NaNo, regardless of whether or not I actually hit 50-grand. Last November, I threw my back out and had difficulty typing while flat on my back and highly medicated. I still hit something like 35,000 and went on to finish the short novel in the next two months. Before November, I had 0 words on The Night of One Hundred Thieves. Now, it is in its final edits and very close to publication. See? The words are great.
Write Ins!!! This is perhaps the best thing about NaNo, but it’s not strictly a NaNo thing, nor does every location offer them. A Write In is just a group of writers getting together to sit and write. You don’t even really talk, usually. You drink coffee (or in my case, an OJ and club soda) and stare at your laptops in some sort of snooty environment. Love it! It’s what I always thought writing would be like.
So, do you have a book waiting to burst forth from your creative mind? Want to tackle that 50,000 word goal? (If you want to start lower, consider Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July, when you can tailor your goal.) I suppose it doesn’t even have to be a novel, right? A memoir. Something non-fictiony you know a whole lot about. You still have a couple weeks to plan (and I do strongly suggest you plan).
Then, when the moon rises over your Halloween midnight, gather in that fresh stockpile of candy and tap out those first, brilliant words. They are just the first of many.