On your mark, get set, WRITE!
November is National Novel Writing Month, and there are crazy people who try to write 50,000-word novels in 30 days. It began in 1999 as a silly challenge amongst a group of friends. This year, something like 90,000 insane people have registered to participate. I am one of them. Three members of my online critique group account for another three. I don’t know the rest.
Have you ever tried to write a novel? Have you ever tried to write a novel in thirty days? It’s absurd, right? Well, yeah, it is, and that’s the point. See, there’s this thing about writing: first drafts stink. There are, of course, exceptions to prove the rule, but for most of us, that’s reality. Good writing comes with rewriting.
Most people have a hard time writing a crappy first draft. After all, who really wants to write crap? It’s discouraging. Lots of people give up. It’s less painful to give up on a crappy partial manuscript than to stick with it and complete a whole crappy manuscript. I know. I’ve done both.
Since writing a whole novel in 30 days is ridiculous and impossible, our critical brains wave it off as sheer idiocy and go about nagging us for more important things, like that row of stitches that is pulled tighter than all the other rows. That’s good news. With the critical brain ignoring the whole novel thing, we are free to crank out all kinds of strange and interesting stuff. A lot of it is crap, but not all of it. And therein lies the delight of NaNoWriMo.
There’s a book by Chris Baty called No Plot? No Problem! that explains the concept and offers advice from a master of the technique. Or you can visit the Web site for more info. Although, if you’re just curious, I encourage you to wait and few days before visiting the site. It’s got growing pains and is not up to crazy internet snuff. It gets so busy that it moves slower than the glacier out front, and participants can’t record their word counts. Hm. I can’t even get the site to load so I can copy and paste the link. Another time, then.
Anywho, the only real rules for NaNoWriMo are:
1. that participants go into the month with a story outline at most. It’s fine to have less. I had a character, nothing else.
2. that participants crank out 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. I aim for 2,000 words a day.
Beyond that, whatever happens happens. Let the storyline fall where it may. And interesting things do happen. Some predictable things happen, too. Like the first week is kinda easy, but lots of folks hit a wall in week 2. Why is it the same for so many people? Am I the only one who finds that fascinating? And if you work through the difficulty and stick with the program, cranking out the words no matter how bad they seem to be, something like a miracle happens. Something you don’t see coming. Ahhhh. That experience makes the whole effort worthwhile. I am anticipating and craving that experience.
Today was day 1. I have 2,021 words written. They were awfully slow in coming, so now I’m going to bed.
Categories: Children's writing